Profiling Windows Mobile (Part I): Does Dual platform make sense?
Windows Mobile is old. The basic UI and underlying technology is the same today as it has been for years. Windows Mobile is not exactly the best mobile solution around. Neither is it “exactly profitable” according to Steve Ballmer! All too often Microsoft has been accused of not having a coherent Mobile strategy. Android which is about a year old now is far more “happening” and “exciting” according to smart-phone users and smart-phone makers. The case in point here is HTC conversion from WinMo to Android. Now, there has been a lot of noise around Windows Mobile 7.0, the purported OS that will resurrect Microsoft’s flailing fortunes with its Apple iPhone like interface, browsing and experience. This one will be Microsoft’s answer to Apple.Microsoft will take Winmo 7.0 to market by Q3/4 2010. That’s a bloody hell of a wait.
Windows Mobile may not be irrelevant, however, it needs a technology facelift — and it needs it now, not a year from now. That is where, Winmo 6.5 intends to step up as a placeholder. Microsoft is expected to officially launch Windows Mobile 6.5 on October 1, 2009 and add an upgrade version with a touch interface in February 2010, the sources indicated citing Microsoft roadmap.Microsoft will not phase out Windows Mobile 6.5 from the market but will lower the OS price, when it launches Windows Mobile 7 scheduled in the fourth quarter of 2010.
This also means that for sometime after the launch of Winmo 7 both the platforms will be around together. Microsoft will be using a “dual-platform” strategy to compete with Android and the iPhone. Winmo 6.5, due to be rolled out October 1, will compete with Android, while WinMo 7 will compete with the iPhone. One cannot also deny the fact that Winmo 6.5 will not compete against Winmo 7.0 and it will take some degree of product planning with the Microsoft product teams to minimize collateral damage between 6.5 and 7.0. For the Microsoft team, 6.5 followed by 7.0 also gives them the following advantages:
- Windows Mobile is entrenched in its current form and that inertia is going to be difficult to overcome.
- At the same time, there’s pressure to compete at a lower level with a lighter and savvier OS — something 6.5 really isn’t able to pull off
However from the consumer perspective, 2 legacy systems is a bad idea-as Microsoft has proven over and over in various arenas. The other option may be to take 6.5 off the table, focus on 7, provide updates on the current 6.1 version but make sure enough soft back-compatibility to let businesses make the changeover once Winmo 7 iss unveiled.
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