Microsoft is not sittin’ pretty these days. Its Windows Mobile platform continues to lose market share, and on top of that, it doesn’t appear that it’ll have a worthy competitor in the Mobile OS space until 2010.
At Microsoft’s CIO summit this week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer fielded a question about what steps Microsoft is taking to ensure that customers will get new and updated versions of Windows Mobile. His response is as follows:
“We have a significant release coming this year. Not the full release we wanted to have this year but we have a significant release coming this year with Windows Mobile 6.5… We still don’t get some of the things that people want on the highest-end phones. Those will come on Windows Mobile 7 next year. Certainly I’m not, um—there’s opportunities for us to accelerate our execution in this area, and we’ve done a lot of work to really make sure we have a team that’s going to be able to accelerate. With that said, we did sell more Windows Mobile devices last year than Apple did iPhones — just an important factoid to have. Blackberry was a little bit ahead, and Google was nowhere to be seen, except in Silicon Valley, I’m sure.”
First of all, Windows Mobile 6.5 is only significant when compared to previous versions of Windows Mobile. Viewed in the context of the smartphone market as a whole, Windows Mobile is feature deficient even by 2007 standards. And not only that, but Windows Mobile 6.5 enabled phones won’t even ship until the latter half of 2009. Moreover, Windows Mobile 7, already touted as Microsoft’s ace in the hand, isn’t scheduled to ship until 2010. The problem, though, is that Windows Mobile 7 is presumably being fashioned to stack up against what smartphones are offering today. By the time Windows Mobile 7 ships, it might already be outdated, as seems to be the case with Windows Mobile 6.5.
There’s no denying that WIndows Mobile is in a boat load of trouble, and while Ballmer might try and convince others that everything’s okay because Microsoft is winning on sheer volume, that tune is going to get old really quick as competing products like the iPhone and BlackBerry phones continue to attract users in impressive numbers.
If Microsoft’s not already in panic mode, they should be.