Ronnie05's Blog

Profiling Windows Mobile (Part II): How WinMo lost it….

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Mobile Computing, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on February 22, 2010

How Microsoft blew it with Windows Mobile….

In an earlier post on AUgust 25th, 2009, i had blogged about the feasibility/need of two WinMo platforms: WinMo 6.5 and WinMo 7.0. Winmo 6.5 was released a month later and now that Microsoft has announced the WinMo 7.0, i am revisiting Microsoft’s Smartphone strategy.

Microsoft laid the foundations of a real smartphone OS with Windows CE in 1996 which is at least a decade before Apple launched its iPhone and which predates Google’s existence. The Android and the iPhone are the newest kids in the block but it was always Microsoft’s game to loose. What then was the reason for Microsoft’s failure?

1. Microsoft’s lack of full-bore for a consumer perspective. So then, if there were smartphones and smartphones, it was Apple which created The Smartphone with design and interface innovation. Apple and Google also had the consumer eye for applications like social networking, maps and games.
2. Microsoft’s inability to go open. Microsoft is notorious for its “closed door” approach. That’s very different from Google which thrives on being “Open”. However, it is Apple which provides the contrast here. While it is still “closed”, Apple has opened the doors to developers for innovation.
3. The sad part for Microsoft is that in terms of operating systems, they have a great one, and they had it long before anyone else did. Their first problem is the built-in apps are uninspiring, so that sets a very low bar for developers who are coming to the platform.
4. Also plaguing Microsoft, is segmentation in the hardware ecosystem. Windows Mobile ships with several different manufacturers’ hardware, including HTC, LG and Samsung. The problem? From a developer perspective, that requires coding an app for several phones with different UI styles, buttons and screen sizes. Seeing the first signs of the platform segmentation set in, Google went Nexus One, a device that would be theirs and that would maintain the platform in all its pristine form.
5. The inability to recognize the new smartphone audience is another one of Microsoft’s flaws. Microsoft’s mobile OS history is rooted in personal digital assistants, which were marketed toward enterprise audiences. Today, the smartphone has shifted into the mainstream as a consumer device, and yet Windows Mobile is still largely focused on enterprise features. Microsoft needs to err more on the side of going too far into the consumer segment versus trying to achieve a good balance between enterprise and consumer features at this point

They had everything they needed to execute, to do the right kinds of carrier deals to create an app store, create visual voice mail, touchscreens and so on. They’ve been in this space since the beginning. It was theirs to lose and they lost it.

Going forward, in-spite of all setbacks, Mobility is one of Microsoft’s top investment areas and the mobile strategy is not going to change radically. The fortunes of WinMo will now rest on Windows 7 that it unveiled at the MWC 2010. From the looks, it is going to be a three-some fight to finish between Google, Apple and Microsoft and Microsoft’s cards do-not seem to be particularly strong at this time. We will see If and How would Winmo 7 change the status for Microsoft.

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