Microsoft’s not afraid of the iPhone, and that’s exactly their problem

Sat, Oct 25, 2008


As the iPhone continues to take away market share from other smartphones, some at Microsoft don’t see any reason to panic.  According to Microsoft’s John Curran, who leads the Windows business division in the UK, Windows Mobile is well positioned and has nothing to fear from either the iPhone or any other smartphone for that matter.

In an interview with TechRadar, Curran noted, “Traditionally, we’ve played more in the business space – we have great Windows and Office applications, the ability to get Outlook on your phone, but we’re taking that and extending it with the ability to have a lot of our web services, things like Hotmail and Messenger right on your phone.”

Is that it?  I’m inclined to paraphrase a line from Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men – “Microsoft, please tell me that that your entire strategy to save Windows Mobile from emerging (and superior) competition doesn’t rest on things like Hotmail and Messenger.. please tell me that you have something more substantial!”

The problem that Curran and other Microsoft executives have is that they seem far to willing to focus on things like the number of hardware partners they have, while not expending enough energy into actually enhancing the Windows Mobile user experience.  It also doesn’t help that Microsoft seems to scoff at every competitor in the smartphone market, while it remains content with reminiscing about its past successes.  It’s apparent inability to face reality, and to openly admit that its Windows Mobile platform is in a vulnerable position only makes Microsoft’s position that much harder.  After all, If Windows Mobile is as great as advertised, and if there are no worthy competitors, then why would Microsoft be motivated to actually invest the necessary time and resources required to make Windows Mobile a modern day smartphone OS?

Smarthphones were once the province of businessmen, but a seismic shift is underway, and smartphones are fast becoming a standard consumer product for users of all ages.  Microsoft can harp on the successes of Windows Mobile in the business world all it wants, but unless it wakes up and acknowledges that other smartphones are quickly eating up its market share, it’ll soon realize that its large number of hardware partners won’t be able to compensate for a second rate, last-gen, smartphone OS.

While its quite common for executives to publicly focus on company positives, and to minimize threats from competitors, Microsoft seems to actually believe its own spin, and that’s exactly what their problem is.

Read the full interview over here.


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