Never shy of over-exposure, Apple is due to announce the fourth generation of iPhone software on Monday but will have Microsoft hot on its tail.

Codenamed Project Pink, Microsoft will be announcing its first line of mobile phones. Until now, Microsoft has stopped at software but – arguably after letting Apple take the strategic risk in experimenting with producing both hardware and software – the technology giant is changing tack.

The Wall Street Journal reported that social networking will be central to these new devices which are being manufactured by Sharp. Details were leaked some time back, including these photos.

The rumored Project Pink phone may launch on Verizon as soon as Summer 2010
Photograph: Gizmodo

Microsoft has headlined its launch event on Monday ‘time to share’ and badly needs this initiative to succeed after seeing its share of the smartphone marketdrop from 19.1% in November last year to 15.1% in February, according to comScore. Apple’s iPhone also saw a slight drop in that period from 25.5% to 25.4%, while Google Android was the real winner, seeing growth climb from 3.8% to 9%.

Expect two handsets from Microsoft on Monday, dubbed Turtle and Pure for now, which will encourage users to connect to existing Microsoft services such as Zune. In the words of our sister site, mocoNews:

“If the phones do not run a version Windows Phone 7, which is coming out later this year, Microsoft will have to explain how it intends on supporting a two-pronged strategy that could result in consumer and developer confusion. The market is already extremely fragmented with several different operating systems, so there has to be good reason why it makes sense for two software platforms to come from one player.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds