It seems like we've waited forever for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform to launch, and now that it has, the big question is whether or not it can cut into the smartphone market and compete with the likes of Android and iOS. The answer? Probably not, according to some skeptical smartphone makers in Taiwan.
Those whose business it is to make and sell smartphones aren't expecting Windows Phone 7 to be a bust. After all, Microsoft has lined up an impressive collection of companies willing to support the platform, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange, O2, Telefonica, Dell, HTC, Samsung, and LG, to name a handful. But they just don't expect Windows Mobile to be a dominant force. Instead, Taiwan-based smartphone makers predict Windows Mobile will increase its market share from 5 percent in 2010 to 10 percent in 2011, and then level off.
One of the roadblocks, they say, is the high hardware requirements for WP7 devices, which will limit the platform to enthusiast smartphone models.
Do you agree with their assessment, or do you think Windows Phone 7 will finally get Microsoft's mobile business back on track?
Microsoft has the unfortunate reputation of being more vulnerable than most when it comes to security exploits, so I'm sure the boys in Redmond were cringing just a bit more than usual when they discovered that malware was infecting Windows Mobile phones as well. According to Cnet, the applications "3D Anti-Terrorist game, PDA Poker Art, and Codec pack for Windows Mobile 1.0" all contain an auto dialer program that makes calls to random numbers in countries such as Somalia and the South Pole.
Microsoft representatives were understandably concerned about the news, but even we are forced to admit that it's not really their fault since users are voluntarily downloading and installing the infected applications. "Users need to be aware of what they are downloading and make sure it is a reputable source and from a reputable developer." While we don't know the exact number of users who were infected, even Microsoft was forced to admit that it could be the beginning of a trend. "What took 15 years for malware to evolve on the desktop is accelerated on the mobile platform." "We're seeing it move from early proof-of-concept (malware) to things that are driving profit."
Of course this also points out the ideological differences between platforms such as Windows Mobile and Android that allow you to download any application you want, and the iPhone approach where each app is tested an analyzed prior to approval. Do you think mobile platforms should be locked down the way Steve Jobs envisions, or do people who download apps from shady sources deserve what they get?
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen has been on the interview circuit to promote his company's recently released Creative Suite 5 (CS5) software package, and in doing so, Narayen announced that Flash 10.1, which will be made available to Android, WebOS, Symbian, and BlackBerry, will be delayed until the second half of this year.
Some mobile platforms already use a simplified version of Flash 8 known as Flash Lite. Flash Player 10, however, will introduce better graphical and audio performance across multiple mobile OSes, although Apple was noticeably absent from Narayen's announcement. Apple and Adobe continue to be at odds over Flash support, which Narayen says "hurts consumers."
We were expecting Flash 10.1 to make its way to mobile platforms a little sooner than the second half of 2010. Narayen didn't say what the reason for the delay was, but in a related blog post, Adobe confirmed tht the private betas for Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe Air 2.0 have only just started.
Public betas are on the way, and developers can sign up to be notified about either one using the links below:
Case in point is HTC’s highly regarded HD2 touchscreen smartphone. A nice little device with a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, a high resolution capacitive touch display, and a five megapixel camera. But, the HD2 has five buttons--Windows Phone 7 says three and no more. No Windows Phone 7 for the HD2!
It is suspected, perhaps, that the HD2 fails in some other ways as well. It’s hard to say, exactly, because the Microsoft hasn’t made public the hardware requirements for Windows Phone 7. That’s expected to happen this month at the MIX developer conference in Las Vegas. Whatever the case, any legacy hardware that doesn’t meet these requirements is going to be left behind.
What little solace Windows Mobile 6.5 users have is that Microsoft says it won’t abandon them. An upgrade, to version 6.5.3, is expected before rebranding to Windows Phone Classic. And Windows Phone Classic will stick around for the “budget-minded smartphone buyer”.
The recent proliferation of Windows versions attests to Microsoft’s love of multiple product SKUs. Until now the company’s mobile products have escaped this sort of segmentation, but no more. Microsoft has confirmed that there will be at least two versions of mobile operating systems sold and supported in the Windows Phone family.
Windows Phone Starter Edition will basically be Windows Mobile 6.5, but slightly more limited. Speculation is that this will mostly be a play for emerging markets like Vista Starter and Win7 Home Basic. According to Microsoft all version of their mobile OS will get access to the new mobile version of Office when it is complete. All OEMs will have access to the new Starter SKU as well.
The odd thing here is that in explaining features, Microsoft claims that Starter will support only 2G GSM networks, but will have support for EV-DO Rev A for CDMA. This seems at least in part to be a ploy to force nations with 3G GSM networks to move to Phone 7. CDMA is less common in other nations, so perhaps Microsoft feels its inclusion won’t hurt. Do you think the multi-SKU strategy can work for Microsoft in the mobile space?
Rumors regarding Windows Mobile 7 have been rampant as Mobile World Congress approaches. Now some reputable sources have let it slip that Winows Mobile 7 is a lock to be announced at the conference. According to the Wall Street Journal, the user interface will be a dead ringer for the Zune HD portable media player. We certainly wouldn’t argue with that.
From Bloomberg we’re hearing that the new software will have heavy integration with Microsoft’s Xbox Live service and console. This certainly makes sense considering the massive success the platform has enjoyed. Expect more integration with the Zune ecosystem as well, maybe even an iPhone/iTunes style system. Noted journalist Mary-Jo Foley is also saying that she expects Microsoft to drop the Windows Mobile name altogether and go with “Windows Phone 7”.
As for all that Project Pink speculation, the WSJ says don’t bet on it. While they are claiming that it won’t be part of the announcement, the Sharp manufactured “Pink” phone could be out sometime this spring. What does Windows Mobile (or Phone) 7 need to be to get your attention? Is it just too late for Microsoft in the mobile space?
Let's clear the air for a moment - Microsoft hasn't said a word about Windows Mobile 7, so any news on the upcoming mobile OS is purely speculation. And as it turns out, there's plenty of it, all coming from "anonymous sources," says WMExperts.com. Keep this in mind as we go over the details.
WinMo 7, or "Seven," as it's going to be called, will come in two versions: Business Edition and Media Edition. The names may change, but the Business Edition, which is nearly finished, is essentially a light version of Seven with less bells and whistles. It will be able to sync to the cloud with multiple devices, and you'll even be able to snap a photo and embed it into an online document, which multiple users can have access to.
The Media Edition probably won't ship until 2011. It will support Silverlight, Mediaroom, Xbox Live, Facebook, Twitter, and Zune Music integration, among other features that are still being added.
Switching gears to the hardware side, the first Seven device to ship will likely be the LG Apollo. Apollo will sport a 1.3Ghz Qualcomm processor, 1GB of memory, a 3.8-inch capacitive AMOLED multi-touch screen, 10MP camera, and a few other goodies.
The launch of Windows Mobile 7 may get delayed even further, according to Taiwanese website Digitimes. Its sources have revealed that Microsoft may push the launch to 2011. Another delay will leave the Windows Mobile platform with very little chance of drawing level with other platforms, leaving its rivals ample time to stretch their technological lead even further.
The report claims that Microsoft will further prolong its longer-than-expected countdown to Windows Mobile 7 by unveiling another minor update in the form of Windows Mobile 6.6 (codenamed Maldives) at the Mobile World Congress in February. The minor update will support capacitive touchscreens and help Microsoft bide its time. If the report is correct, then MWC 2010 may not even feature a fleeting glimpse of Windows Mobile 7.
With even Google leaping onto the smartphone bandwagon, those clamoring for a Zunephone now have a strong case. Perhaps Microsoft does need something more than just a software overhaul to arrest its slide in the smartphone market. OEMs remain under considerable pressure to abandon the relatively primeval Windows Mobile platform after the advent of the more voguish Android.
"Now, your other question was about I'm getting old. Zune, so Zune has been critically successful. And the way Zune is going to be successful for us in the future is you should think of that as our media service across multiple screens. We'll continue to have the Zune device screen. But, we now have Zune on Xbox. We have Zune on the PC. There are other places where Zune logically could go that we don't get to talk about yet. And I think lots of different screens with that capability can go,” said Bach. Zunephone still dwells the realms of wild speculation. Bach could very well be pointing toward something less radical.
Google’s Nexus One announcement earlier this week included confirmation that future phones sold on the Google website would all be available unlocked. So, Google intends to work with various hardware partners, and sell some of the resulting phones as Google branded. Some have said this could be a dangerous road for Google to travel, as they may risk alienating their partners. Among those critics is Microsoft.
Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach took Google to task for the move in a speech at CES. "Doing both in the way they are trying to do both is actually very, very difficult… Over time you have to decide whether your approach is with the partners or more like an Apple approach that is more about Apple. Google's is an interesting step. We'll see how people react," said Bach.
Microsoft has been struggling with Windows Mobile as of late, so you have to wonder if they should be giving Google advice in this space. It is possible that some hardware partners could be put off by Google’s move, but Android has one big advantage over Windows Mobile. Google does not charge their hardware partners a license fee to use Android. We’ll have to see if hardware companies are scared enough that Google could upstage them to pass up that deal.