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Microsoft reworks mobile strategy after tough year

updated 07:00 pm EDT, Thu July 30, 2009

Microsoft mobile strategy

The president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division, Robbie Bach, told several Wall Street analysts that the company is in the process of reworking its Windows Mobile strategy following a "challenging year," according to Betanews. Despite increasing unit shipments, the platform has continued to lose market share against competitors such as BlackBerrys and the iPhone.

"We have to do a better job executing...and operating our business," Bach said, while claiming that the browser experience in Windows Mobile 6.5 will be better than the iPhone. The executive acknowledged strength in the business sector, but the consumer experiences are "not as rich as they should be."

Despite the promise to play catch up, the ill fate of Windows Mobile has been noted for quite some time. Gartner data last year indicated the iPhone 3G launch placed Apple's smartphone market share clearly ahead of Microsoft in the domestic market and internationally. Apple recently launched the 3GS, along with the v3.0 firmware, while Bach suggests the Windows Mobile transformation will "play out over the next 3 to 5 years."

Bach also claims that Apple lacks strength regarding services, particularly across "three screens in a cloud" which he describes as the integration of the PC, mobile phone and TV. Apple has, however, bridged a variety of capabilities across the iPhone, iPods, iTunes and Apple TV devices.

One glaring factor that Bach omitted from his strategy involves Microsoft's answer to the App Store. Apple's mobile software portal already hosts over 65,000 unique titles. While Microsoft has been developing the Windows Mobile platform for six years, the App Store recently surpassed 1.5 billion downloads in approximately one year since the initial launch. Although the number includes content downloaded to the iPod touch, the App Store still dominates the smartphone market.

Analyst Turley Muller suggests the exploding sales of iPhones and improving profit margins provide the company with additional revenue used to subsidize the recent price cuts for Mac systems. Despite the lower prices, the company was able to beat most analyst expectations for both revenue and gross margin for its best non-hoiday quarter yet.

Microsoft is set to launch an update to its mobile platform, Windows Mobile 6.5, sometime in October. The company is also working to "invest and build on the brand," which is likely a reference to the Windows Phone change. When the Marketplace launches, it is expected to contain approximately 600 certified applications.

by MacNN Staff



  1. SlimGem

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Hey Robbie, ya got anymore gems like "three screens in a cloud"? Maybe Apple can learn from your vast knowledge and become a successful company.

  1. chotty

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Balmer & Bach...

    One's a Genius and the other one swears to it.

  1. phillymjs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Win Mobile is AWFUL

    My work-provided phone runs WinMo 6.1, and it is a miserable piece of c***. So were the two phones that preceded it, which ran 5.0 and 6.0. The version of IE in each was and is atrocious, I would rather take the time to pull my laptop out and plug in my AirCard than try to use Mobile IE to look up anything.

    But for three years, that version of IE was 'good enough'-- It really is true that Microsoft only feels the need to actually try to improve their products when a competitor starts kicking their a** in a given market.

    They laughed at the iPhone, and now they're tripping over themselves to copy it as closely as possible. How's that helping of crow taste, Ballmer?

  1. karmatose

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Thoughts on WM6.5

    I've been running Windows Mobile 6.5 on my HTC Touch for about four months now. The new versions of PocketIE are quite good and I'd say comparable to Opera Mobile and the browser on the iPhone. Render speed is fantastic, ActiveX works and scrolling is quite easy with touchflow. The controls are very much out of the way until you need them and zooming is quite easy.

    Overall, WM6.5 is a more touch friendly, faster and more stable version of WM6.1. Titanium is a great improvement over the old Home screen and M2D. Will it be a gamechanger? No. Is it a great improvement over WM6.1 and enough to keep people on Windows Mobile? Yes.

    IMHO, Microsoft needs to release WM6.5 in a big hurry to stay in the game.

  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: thoughs on winmo 6.5


    Tthe big difference between the iPhone and what MS licenses: "Microsoft's saying that no devices in the market today will receive official 6.5 updates". And there has been no assurance that devices with 6.5 can be upgrade to 7.0, which will arrive what, six months later.

  1. thibaulthalpern

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Curious--why "Windows"

    I find Microsoft's branding strategy very peculiar and strange. Everything that Microsoft does branding wise almost seems to be Windows related. So, you have Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Mobile, Windows CE and so on and so forth. Compare that with Apple's branding. It isn't MacOS X all the way down even though OS X is used. You don't have Mac OS X mobile. It's just called iPhone 3.0. And AppleTV which also uses a variant of OS X isn't called OS X TV. In fact, the OS name isn't even branded.

    Everything (I do exaggerate some) Microsoft does is Windows this and Windows that. I even remember once when I looked at the Start menu of a Windows PC and a majority of the program names began with "Microsoft" So you had something like "Microsoft Office, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Project Manager, Microsoft this and Microsoft that.

    Contrast again with Apple. You don't hear Apple iPhoto, Apple Aperture, Apple iWorks, Apple Safari, Apple this and Apple that. It's just iPhoto, Aperture, iWorks, Safari.

    Personally, I think Microsoft's branding strategy over does it with the word Microsoft and the word Windows. It reeks of boredom and an uncreative mind.

    Sometimes I want to smack Microsoft silly. A company with such HUGE resources and talent and they can't get a simple thing called DESIGN, correct? What the f*** is that?

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why rework the strategy?

    A couple of years ago, Microsoft was saying that the iPhone platform wasn't going anywhere and that the overwhelming amount of WinMo-powered smartphones would crush the iPhone. It's still a possibility if 20 or so companies license WinMo. Microsoft is only targeting market share. They want to be the biggest players around, they don't have to be the best. Let Microsoft rush out whatever OS they can. It should be good enough for the people that are in love with using WinMo OS. Just make the OS and the hardware as cheap as possible and users will come back to the WinMo platform as flies to f****.

  1. zgilman

    Joined: Dec 1969



    How many chances will MS get to rework the same strategy? Bach and Co. will not accept that people are not buying because they just don't want it. Just good enough is not good enough, when there's a better alternatives. MS has to realize that the success of their PC monopoly was a different era and that dump it on us strategy will no longer work.

    And what's with those freaky 'Bing' commercials?!

  1. ClevelandAdv

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MS Marketing

    Thinking about MS marketing I always picture the scene from the Stephen King movie Misery where James Caan's character feeds the book to Kathy Bates' character.

  1. JulesLt

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I'll be amazed if the next version of IE mobile beats Mobile Safari, given the relative performance of WebKit and IE8 on the desktop. I'm guessing 'better' in the sense of being able to do stuff like actually play embedded video.

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