While Redmond is crowing and Steve Ballmer is gloating about the successful launch of Windows 7, the smartphone platform Windows Mobile is being treated like a bastard stepchild--locked and starved in the basement, if you will. With the PC operating system market now fairly mature, the new growth area is in smartphones and netbooks. The latter don't require a conventional OS at all (because data and instructions are up in the cloud). And the former sector is being dominated by the BlackBerry and iPhone (at home) and Nokia (abroad), leaving the WinMo team in a dilemma, as The New York Times reports.
Microsoft was slow to adjust to the new generation of touch-screen smartphones embodied by Apple's iPhone. Meanwhile, Google's new Android platform is free to developers and carriers, meaning more profit to those who write popular apps and market popular phones (e.g., Verizon's new Droid). And the bad news just keeps coming for WinMo...
Per the Times, Google is spitting out new versions of Android every couple of months, with cutesy names like cupcake, donut, and éclair (version 2.0) for each new release. Meanwhile, WinMo is stuck at version 6.5, released earlier this month to not great reviews.
The Times story was occasioned by a new report from market research firm Gartner, which lays out some rather grim numbers for Ballmer and company to consider:
Symbian (the Nokia platform) has 45 % of the world market, according to Gartner. After that, it's Research in Motion (for BlackBerries) at 18 %, Apple at 13%, WinMo at 9 %, and Android at 2%. Worse for Microsoft, its share has slipped three points from the first to second quarters of this year. And Gartner predicts Android may surpass WinMo in two years.
Meanwhile, no date for WinMo 7.0 has been set. MSFT's Robert J. Bach tells the Times, "You will see a speedy set of innovation for us in the next 6, 12, 24 months."
Six or 12 or 24 months? As in two years? By that time, Google will probably be on its chocolate brownie version 4.0 of Android. But maybe that should be a lesson for Ballmer. If WinMo has a bad rep with consumers, per April's report from J.D. Power, maybe Microsoft should abandon the name. Windows Mobile sounds like a contradiction in terms. Windows means being chained to your desk. It smacks of the past, while Android sounds futuristic. Plus, we all like donuts. How can you compete with that?
So for Redmond's next mobile update? How 'bout Cheezburger Version 1.0? (CheezMo, for short.) It'll be the first smartphone platform with bacon.