There was some pretty interesting news coming across the web today. As originally reported by Windows Mobile Poweruser and MSMobiles.com, Microsoft UK head of mobility Phil Moore is quoted as saying that we won’t see Windows Mobile 7 until Q4 2010. Ugh.
This is clearly not a good thing for the Windows Mobile ecosystem, but let’s see if we can take both a glass half full and half empty perspective on this news.
The Glass Half Empty. This is unfortunately, pretty easy to look at. Windows Mobile will lose mind share and (arguably more importantly) market share as Windows Mobile 6.5 just does not measure up to the competition. Android is making big advances, as are Palm, Apple and RIM. We’ll of course have to see how things play out for the folks over at Symbian. Regardless, what does this also say about Microsoft overall? What the heck is going on in Andy Lees’ team that there are continued delays in getting Windows Mobile 7 out the door? One thing I’ve mentioned a few times also is, if the whole point of Windows Mobile 6.5 and the direction of Windows Mobile 7 is to be more consumer friendly, how does this play out for the enterprise? At least on this last point, we have Moore saying:
Giving the enterprise users and consumers what they want will be part of Windows Mobile 7.
We’ll obviously have to wait and see what happens, but I would not want to be the one that is responsible for deciding how the future of Windows Mobile plays out on ruggedized solutions. My suspicion is that Microsoft will have to create two user experiences, and that won’t be easy to manage.
The Glass Half Full. Here’s my take on how this is actually a good and prudent move by Microsoft. Just like where Palm was 18-24 months ago, Microsoft has only one choice. The next version of their mobile OS has to be a home run. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I think webOS is the platform with the greatest potential in the market today. What they showed at CES last year was a true homerun in my opinion. Palm’s current challenges are more about money, partnerships and execution than anything based on their software.
Microsoft does not have any of those issues. They can pour as much money as they have to into Windows Mobile and they still have the clout to get people interested in something…assuming it’s compelling. My wild guess is that someone, whether Lees or Ballmer, saw where things were going and a **** storm came. Whatever they had was just not good enough and they may be going back to the proverbial drawing board. Maybe this has something to do with Project Pink? The good thing is that individuals have almost no loyalty to their device. A cool new device is just as likely to attract them, as something they have relied on for years. Just look at how the iPhone came out of nowhere and completely changed the game. Whatever Microsoft is doing, I think they realize it has to change the game, and whatever they have today just wasn’t going to cut it.
Now, regardless of whether you look at the glass half full or half empty, I think we can all agree that we need to hear something official and tangible from Andy Lees and/or Steve Ballmer…and we need to hear it NOW. Telling us they’re “working on it” just isn’t going to cut it anymore. We need to hear from the senior level people at Microsoft that they are putting their war paint on and that they have a real strategy in place with real time lines for delivering on Windows Mobile 7.
UPDATE: I just had a thought. Maybe Q4 2010 is in Microsoft parlance, which would mean Summer 2010….