Microsoft announced to day that its next-gen version of Windows Mobile (6.5) will be hitting phones and stores on October 6th. Will Windows Mobile 6.5 have any discernable effect on the smartphone market? We doubt it.
Stephanie Ferguson writes for the Windows Team Blog:
Of the people we talked to, 74% listed productivity as the top feature they value in their smartphone. We took this feedback to heart, making the user interface more touch friendly and improving notifications and updates from e-mail, text and calendar items. We also included the latest Internet Explorer Mobile browser and added free services like My Phone to help protect data in the event of a lost phone and Windows Marketplace for Mobile for access to a wide variety of applications for direct download.
Wow, that’s some serious market research right there! I mean who would have thought that users value productivity and a friendly user interface?! After nearly a decade of Windows Mobile, Microsoft is just now realizing the importance of a solid user interface that enhances productivity? Seriously? Microsoft has been driving in cruise control for so long now that it’s now actually trying to get its butt in gear and actually deliver products that, oh I don’t know, people get excited about. We can’t fault Microsoft for trying, but that doesn’t mean it has a chance to succeed.
One thing that was very clear after all these conversations about phones is that there is no “one size fits all” in this market. On Oct. 6th, you’ll see new Windows phones designed for a variety of tastes, needs and price points – with or without keyboards, with or without touch screens, as well as your choice of GPS, accelerometer and high resolution camera. There are a lot of great options and we can’t wait to show them to you.
That’s all well and good, and we can’t knock Microsoft for injecting some variety into the market, but how exactly are developers supposed to write apps for phones with a seemingly endless number of hardware and software configurations. Some Windows Phones will have keyboards, some will have touch screens, some will have accelerometers while others won’t. That scenario is basically a non-starter for any developer actually looking to make some money with their apps.
Microsoft has hinted that not all Windows Mobile 6.5 phones will be able to access the Windows Marketplace to the extent that it will only be available on devices which meet certain specifications. Sounds like a great plan, unless you’re one of those poor saps who buys a Win Mo 6.5 phones assuming that you’ll have access to the new Windows Marketplace. And oh yeah, throw in the upcoming Windows Mobile 7 and the rumored Zune Marketplace, and we’re left with a consortium of similar, and competing?, app stores all from the same company.