Android didn’t really come out of nowhere, but with all the recent buzz and press releases that seem to center on Google’s mobile OS it sure feels like it. And one company that is certainly feeling the heat is Microsoft, whose Windows Mobile platform continues to decline in the face of mounting competition from the likes of RIM, Apple, and now an assortment of handset makers who are turning their attention to Android at the expense of Windows Mobile.
The New York Times reports:
Cellphone makers that have used Windows Mobile to run their top-of-the-line smartphones — including Samsung, LG, Kyocera, Sony Ericsson — are now also making Android devices. Twelve Android handsets have been announced this year, with dozens more expected next year. Motorola has dropped Windows Mobile from its line entirely in a switch to Android. HTC, a major cellphone maker, expects half its phones sold this year to run Android. Dell is using Android for its entry into the cellphone market.
All four of the largest carriers in the United States have now agreed to offer Android phones. When the first Android handset, the G1 from HTC, was introduced last fall, only T-Mobile offered it. Now, Verizon, the largest carrier, is putting a huge promotional push behind the Droid from Motorola, set to be introduced this week. Even AT&T, the home of the iPhone, recently said it would join the Android party next year.
And adding to Microsoft’s precarious position, Palm also announced a few weeks ago that it would stop supporting Windows Mobile on its Palm devices as it plans to focus exclusively on its WebOS platform.
For the time being, though, Windows Mobile still enjoys a sizeable lead in terms of market share over Android. As it stands now, Android comprises 1.8% of the worldwide smartphone market while Windows Mobile comprises 9.3%. But with Windows Mobile losing market share and partners as quickly as Android seems to be snatching them up, it seems that Microsoft is fast finding itself on the losing end of a battle that may never have a chance again of winning.
Adding to Microsoft’s woes is the plain fact that its Windows Mobile OS flat out sucks. It’s app store is basically non-existent, and the latest version of WinMo, Windows Mobile 6.5, was panned by critics, and compared to a slew of smartphones already on the market, it’s astonishingly antiquated. Microsoft even admitted that the UI was rushed out prematurely when back in May, Microsoft’s Senior Product Manager for Windows Mobile, Loke Uei Tan, had this to say at the TechEd 2009 conference:
The reason why we couldn’t complete the interface on Windows Mobile 6.5 is because of time. We only spend what, eight months, nine months, to build 6.5 from ground up and it’s actually an amazing engineering feat. But, in order to do that, we had to do some prioritization and we had to cut certain features.
Moreover, Windows Mobile was ranked last in customer satisfaction amongst all smartphone owners in a recent survey by J.D. Power.
Microsoft, though, is hoping to position Windows Mobile 7 as its modern comeback OS to more successfully battle Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, but by the time the OS actually appears on devices sometime in 2010, it may very well prove to be too little too late. And late, in this scenario, falls somewhere in the ballpark of being 3 years too late. It kinda makes you wonder what Microsoft has been doing in the roughly 2.5 years since Steve Jobs first demoed the iPhone.