iPhone tops Windows Mobile in worldwide market share, and how Microsoft blew it

Thu, Dec 4, 2008

Analysis, News

New data from Gartner indicates that the successful launch of the iPhone 3G was enough to push iPhone market share over that of the entire range of Windows Mobile devices. Nokia, meanwhile, maintained its number 1 spot with 42.4% in market share. iPhone market share jumped up to 12.9% during the third quarter of 2008, which represents an incredible 327.5% increase in worldwide market share for the same quarter a year ago.

As smartphones are becoming increasingly popular, companies like Apple, RIM, and Google are getting all the attention while Windows Mobile is fast becoming an after-thought. This, however, shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

Windows Mobile’s user interface has been lambasted for years, but theoretically this is something they could fix and improve. User interface problems aside, Microsoft’s bigger problem is that no one really wants to write cool software for Windows Mobile.

Microsoft, in its zeal to get Windows Mobile onto as many phones as possible, is left with a phone OS that no one wants to use, and more importantly, one that developers don’t want to code for. Developers, who have long been getting chump change for their apps, are starting to see that they can make quite a bit of money developing programs for rival platforms such as the iPhone. Compounding the problem is the sheer number of devices that run Windows Mobile. If I’m a coder who wants to develop for Windows Mobile, which phone specs will I be using when I sit down and try to hash out some code? Will the phone have an acceleromator? Will it have a touchscreen? How big will the screen even be?! The questions are endless, and the headaches for developers numerous.

The iPhone is still the top phone in terms of user interface, and features/price ratio. But it’s becoming abundantly clear that , going forward, the distinguishing factor between phones won’t be their feature set, but rather the software that it’ll be able to run. In that regard, Apple is already off to a commanding lead, and Windows Mobile almost has an insurmountable hill to climb.

By focusing its efforts on getting Windows Mobile on as many devices as possible, Microsoft sold itself short and didn’t devote enough time and energy to make sure that it even had a worthy mobile OS. It coded Windows Mobile to the lowest common denominator so that it could run on as many phone models as possible. It was focusing on the numbers instead of the product. That said, the iPhone surpassing Windows Mobile in market share isn’t surprising at all.

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12 Comments For This Post

  1. Sean Says:

    This is the typical archaic thought process at Microsoft. Stifle imaginative thinking for the sake of market share and profit, while Apple encourages it’s employees to think outside the box. As such, Apple is hot on the heals of Microsoft and driving record sales through innovation and buzz. What is there to be excited about from Microsoft?…… Nothing, nada, zilch. It’s the same tired old crap coming out of Redmond that nobody wants.

    Balmer continually states he doesn’t understand Apple’s business model by remaining a closed platform. Well Steve, ignorance is no excuse. The last time I checked Apple had 25 billion in the bank and Microsoft had only 20 billion. And now Apple is selling more phones than them. Wasn’t it just last year that Balmer was making fun of the iphone and stating it wouldn’t sell? Who’s laughing now Steve? Jesus, will somebody please fire that overpaid under-inspiring salesman? No, wait, I take that back. Leave the loser in there. He is just the man Apple needs running Microsoft.

    Oh, and don’t even get me started on Michael Dell. As of today Apple could buy Dell and give it’s shareholders their money back. Damn, where have I heard that before?

  2. JS Says:

    Good article.
    The previous post was hit the nail on the head. Just missing a quote from Ed Colligan about the “We have been doing this for years and PC guys are not just gonna walk in”.
    Today Palm is roadkill like many other in the path of Apple.

    As a past user from WinCE 1.0 (remember anyone, Casioppaeia?) to several WinMob devices, I just could not fathom the thought of having the WinXX desktop metaphor on a phone. It was MS’s brilliant idea that users are familiar with WinXX interface and let us stick with it.
    Great! here we have a OS which looks and much worse behaves like a desktop – 20 clicks to do anything useful.

    It is a shame that Apple had to come with one gamechanger in a market infiltrated with decades of incompetence – where the rest of the industry was busy cramming 5 megapixel cam in a phone. The big boys missed what the consumer wanted.
    One multi-touch device and the rest of the industry is left scrambling in it wake to unashamedly ape the iPhone.

    RIM is a one trick pony and are next in sight for Apple…

  3. appluvr Says:

    Most of the apps for the Iphone are still lame diversions, hardly worth a buck or two. In terms of “grown-up” software then WM (and even Symbian) have Apple beaten hands down. Given the current economics of developing for Apple’s platform, and the limitations on functionality and data siloing therein, I can’t see that changing anytime soon.

  4. Glenn Sweeney Says:

    Catch up to applications on windows mobile?

    and features/price ratio. ..??

    are starting to see that they can make quite a bit of money developing programs for rival platforms such as the iPhone??

    You just have to be kidding right?

  5. John Dunlap Says:

    The early success of Windows Mobile is directly attributable to Microsoft Exchange. The phone OS by itself stinks and it always has. The problem with using Exchange to sell the phone OS is that, by definition, Exchange users are a niche market.

  6. Jeff Tomlin Says:

    Moreover, Apple created a remarkable product that excited people. Windows mobile devices never were that ‘cool’. It’s impacted both the developer and consumer side of the story.

  7. Abhijit Says:

    I’ve developed for WinMo. Yes WinMo interface sucks. We get that. But the actual development process for developing on WinMo…in terms of availability..cost to develop and freedom to develop….it definitely trumps the iPhone SDK.

  8. Alex Says:

    Cool Apple apps? What are you talking about??? I need a simple turn-by-turn navigation, like Tom-Tom, IGo and dozen of others. Works fine for WinMo! There are they for IPhone???

    Also, I need raster map navigation, like OziExplorerCE. This is what you want for bushwalks and boating. Until Apple has anything in this area, GPS functionality in IPhone is useless.

  9. svansickle Says:

    Apple would do much better with developers if they made an iPhone SDK that ran on Windows. They would end up with many more “real” apps being produced if this happened. I would love to write apps for the iPhone, but I’m not likely to buy a Mac just to be able to do that (though I’m still seriously thinking about it).

  10. John Says:

    I guess Stev Jobs hasn’t leanred from past experiences. Deja Vu? Feels like the Computer war all over again. This time with Smartphones. We all know who won that computer war…Microsoft! And if Apple doesn’t wake up and “Open Up” they will fail just like they did in the late 80′s/90′s. It will not matter if they have better/cooler apps. I have an Iphone and figure I can enjoy it for another few years.. then go back to MS when they finally catch on.

  11. uaichai Says:

    That’s sound good.Thk for your info.

  12. mike.mora Says:

    Who wants to develop applications for brain-washed teenagers? Who wants to develop for phone which can’t send MMS and can’t record video? Who wants to develop for phone with only 8 GB memory and no expansion cards? Who wants to develop for phone which you even can’t replace battery for? Who wants to develop for phone with shitty 2 MPix camera? Who wants to develop for phone which can’t stream stereo music into you Bluetooth headset? Who wants to develop for phone in which you can’t customize a ringtone? Who wants to develop for phone which has never heard of copy/paste? AKA: Who wants to develop applications for iPhone? F…k the whole iPhone.

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