Windows Mobile isn’t dead, and it isn’t even out for the count. That’s the findings of a recently published study from iSuppli Corp., which suggests that Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system will likely triple by 2013; and could even reclaim the number two position in the world market. This study further suggess that by 2013 there could be nearly 68 million smartphones running the Windows Mobile operating system.
This comes as Microsoft has lost two major licensees, Palm and Motorola. But the truth is that this could be a blessing in disguise for the Redmond software giant. For one thing, 2009 hasn’t been a good year for Microsoft’s Windows Mobile so far, and it really hasn’t been a good year for Palm or Motorola. Neither company has had a home run in terms of must-have smartphone. Consider that Palm’s biggest news-making release in months was the Palm Pre for Sprint, a handset that has had a few problems.
And even after losing those partners, it is worth noting that Windows Mobile still has the largest number of OEM licensees among smartphone operating systems, with Nokia’s Symbian coming in second. But more importantly, while Microsoft has lost Palm and Motorola, it has picked up new licensees such as LG, which is now currently the world’s number three mobile phone OEM. The company has even pledged to produce some 50 Windows Mobile handsets.
Of course, iSuppli admits there are hurdles to overcome, and I agree. For one thing Microsoft really dropped the ball by releasing Windows Mobile 6.5 with Windows Mobile 7 on the horizon. That adds confusion to the market, but let’s face it, mobile devices are something people upgrade at a far greater speed than desktop or laptop PCs, so Microsoft should be able to recover.
Microsoft will continue to face competition from Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, and of course the iPhone and Google Android devices. The former is not going to go away, but the latter two aren’t really going to be as significant as they might seem today. For one thing the iPhone will continue to be the iPhone. This has been Apple’s greatest strength and its great weakness with many of its devices. It does one product very well, but doesn’t really give choice to the consumer. If you want the iPhone experience you buy an iPhone, and you have little options in way of choosing a variant model.
As for the Google Android operating system, that’s still going to be a wait and see. The problem here is that Google is trying to do everything – and as Microsoft has found out – you can do everything only so well. At some point Android is going to have to be a feature phone OS or a smartphone OS, but it can’t (at least not successfully) be both.
For it to be a success it will have to evolve; and this means touch-screen support, updated interface, and enhanced user experience. Of course, we already know that these are some of the promises being offered by Windows Mobile 7. If that comes together Windows Mobile could make a comeback and in a very big way.