Oh Microsoft …

Many years ago I interned at the Mobile Devices division at Microsoft.  I wasn’t the hugest fan of the company at the time as I embraced Linux and the open source movement.  I thought innovation was being stifled and the high-tech behemoth had turned into reactionary instead of innovative.  After getting an inside look at the company and the new devices coming, things weren’t as bad as I thought.  I actually was turned into a Windows Mobile convert, and purchased my first Windows Mobile phone after my internship.

I mean … it was a solid device.  Wasn’t too buggy.  The browser was great at the time.  Telling people “I have Windows on my phone” inspired shock and awe. I could play both music and videos on my phone.  The interface wasn’t perfect, but was good and usable.

Oh Microsoft …

After the introduction of the iPhone and later the Android operating system, Windows Mobile has fallen off.  Developer support has fallen behind the competition, the amount of apps are low, the browser hasn’t kept up to what is currently available, and a touch based Windows mobile experience has been not forthcoming.

But of course this happened, right?  How could anyone keep up with the iPhone?  It was just too new and too cool.  There was no way to compete, right?

Wrong.  Blackberry continued to grow and improve.  People still flocked to their platform.  They released new devices, strengthened on their core competencies and continued to grow.  People were afraid to let go of their blackberries and RIM was actually able to still grab new customers.  Palm didn’t die off either.  Their “success” is questionable, but they rolled up their sleeves and completely revamped their product.

So why did it take Microsoft so long to admit defeat and admit that they needed a complete rebuild?  Why is it that after over a year of Android fighting hard in the mobile landscape, we are just seeing a new Windows Mobile Phone?  Palm already did this, right?

I only have one major complaint about Microsoft as a company (along with a bunch of smaller ones) and it is that Microsoft has become purely reactionary at this point.  There is a great article talking about what Microsoft needs to do to be successful in the mobile space and some of the previous innovations they brought about. I would love to see this happen … but color me skeptical.

Do people not obsessed with the mobile industry (like me) even know these phones are coming out?

The mobile landscape is important for Microsoft, so the decision whether or not to compete in this space was a no brainer.  It’s a growing industry where they have a vested interest in taking market share and being profitable, but if they don’t approach this launch as a way to revamp and relaunch instead of just an update … they aren’t going to make it.

Godspeed Microsoft.

Does Windows Phone 7 have a chance?  Is it too little too late?  Will your next smartphone purchase run Windows Phone  7?

– Damien Peters