Feb 21, 2010

The Spoon explains: Microsoft's Windows Phone strategy

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Microsoft's exciting announcement about the Windows Phone 7 Series is the ending ceremony of one of the biggest revolutions in the mobile world.

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Up until few years ago, companies like Palm and Microsoft truly believed that a smartphone is exactly like a PDA except it has a phone. It should have office capabilities, PIM, it may have some entertainment features, simple games, pictures and music, but it's mostly a working tool.

The iPhone started many revolutions, but the biggest one was the understanding that people want their phone to be something else, exciting, innovative, stylus free, fun.

For a few years Microsoft and Palm were trying to keep their old mobile operating systems relevant and competitive against the new generation of smartphones led by RIM, Apple and recently Google Android.

They failed.

Palm officially gave up last year with the release of the webOS.

Microsoft finally made a similar move few days ago with the release of Windows Phone 7 Series.

What does it mean?

It means that if you are a consumer, you want your phone to be cool, entertaining, innovative, but you probably don't need it to integrate with barcode scanners, produce invoices, run multiple enterprise grade applications in parallel etc. You want an iPhone, a Pre, and if you are a serious man you might want a BlackBerry.

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On the other hand, if you are running an enterprise organization, you are probably looking for a slightly different device, with physical keyboard, a D-Pad, capabilities to run advanced tools, sometimes in parallel, with multiple options, buttons, menus, views, you need a platform that will bring a strong development model, and sometimes a rugged device.

For such requirements, by the way, Windows Mobile was (and still is) the best choice.

Microsoft (like others) understands it now.

Instead of wasting time trying to make Windows Mobile look like an iPhone by skinning the shell and hiding the usability problems but also strengths of the platform, Microsoft has decided to split forces, in favor of having 2 co-existence solutions, targeted to different audiences. Windows Phone 7 Series will fit perfectly to consumers.

Windows Mobile (now called Windows Phone Classic) returns to being a mobile OS for PDA's (or better than that: EDAs - Enterprise Digital Assistants used by field users, drivers, technicians, etc.), exactly where it belongs, close to where it started from, more than 10 years ago.



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