Microsoft is about to formally unveil Windows Phone 7 during events in New York and other major cities, as it takes on Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone. But the Blagosphere has been buzzing about the implications of WP7.
Jennifer LeClaire reports in TopTechNews: “Microsoft is hoping to rebound in an increasingly competitive smartphone operating-system market where Apple and Android devices have been gaining ground on established players.”
Analyst Rob Enderle in Conceivably Tech said iPhone and Android phones impart status/pride of ownership. He said Microsoft will have to play the status game to succeed.
“I’m a Windows Phone user myself and I’m certainly looking forward to getting something that works better. However, if it weren’t for the fact the iPhone is on AT&T and AT&T sucks where I live, I’d likely be using an iPhone today and not care as much about the new Microsoft offering,” he said. “Over the next few weeks, to be successful, Microsoft and its partners have to increase the status associated with their platform exponentially and while they have done this before, the degree of difficulty for this stunt is through the roof, given Apple’s dominance in the segment.”
LeClaire quoted Enderle: “Developers have actually been pretty positive about the platform. People who have seen the phone are pleasantly surprised about how good it is and are hoping for an alternative to the other devices that are out there, specifically Apple. The success is going to depend an awful lot on the hardware end.”
Thom Holwerda in OS News said stakes are very high for Microsoft and CEO Steve Balmer: “Windows Phone 7 has to succeed. Come hell or high water.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Ballmer’s position at Microsoft depends on Windows Phone 7’s success. While Windows and Office continue to do well, Microsoft’s other endeavors haven’t been as successful; Windows Phone 7 should be the sign that Microsoft can still innovate and come up with something new that will enter a market, and grab a significant share.”
Nick Wingfield noted in the The Wall Street Journal that Ballmer’s pay was docked last year for screwing up with another mobile play, the Kin.
From Android alternative makes it extra tough
But he warns that Microsoft faces a tough sell against Android, having to persuade OEMs to pay for WP7 when they can get an OS for free from Google.
He said Microsoft “can always resort to what I call the rogue tactics. You can spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the competing platform – in this case, Android – by holding secret negotiations, speaking of patents nobody has ever seen, forbidding companies from ever revealing those supposed patents, and suing any company that flips you the bird (Motorola, you go girl).” (Microsoft filed a suit against Motorola last month, claiming its Android phones infringed on Microsoft patents. Still, business is business. Motorola’s co-Chief Executive Sanjay Jha and Ballmer both said they are open to collaboration.)
LeClaire said some analysts are skeptical that Phone 7 will breathe new life into Microsoft’s mobile Relevant Products/Services strategy. Gartner reports Microsoft’s share of the smartphone operating-system market has dipped to five percent, about a half from a year ago.
But Enderle said it’s never too late in the smartphone game.
“Apple entered the smartphone market way late. And we had smartphones in the market for several years before Apple brought out the iPhone. We clearly had some players that were thought to be unstoppable — Nokia and Research In Motion — and Apple swept in without any trouble at all and carved out a segment,” he said.
Early reviews of WP7 are good
Garrett Rogers at ZDNet said last month: “If you haven’t had the opportunity to try a Windows Phone 7 device in person, I have to say that you are missing out. Today I had the chance to play with a prototype device from Samsung, and frankly, I was blown away. The phone is really fast, and everything feels consistent from app to app.”
He added: “There may be stuff missing from the initial version of WP7 when compared to other platforms like Android and iPhone, but what it does have is done very well. Compared to my Nexus One (which has similar hardware), the operating system is very responsive, and animations are very smooth. I’m not saying that Android is unbearably slow, but compared to Froyo, WP7 takes the cake.”
Meanwhile, the battle between MSFT and APPL is entering the iPAD tablet zone.
Carl Bagh reports in International Business Times : “Microsoft’s jump into the tablet market is an expected outcome of iPad’s dominance as it has started eating into the PC market. With Microsoft’s business model dependent on its sale of licenses, it is imperative that Microsoft has a gamut of devices running its OS.
He noted that “Santa Balmer,” AKA Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, speaking at the London School of Economics last week, announced that MSFT will be delivering its new version of tablets in time for Xmas: “You’ll see new slates with Windows on them. You’ll see them this Christmas.”
PCWorld also reports that Spotify, the popular music app, has announced it will offer a Windows Phone 7 application in the coming months, “giving Microsoft another hugely popular application to add to its app catalog.”