Microsoft smart-phone effort too little, too late

The smart-phone market, which has been pretty quiet for a while, is buzzing about the long-awaited release of phones running Microsoft Windows 7.

The smart-phone market, which has been pretty quiet for a while, is buzzing about the long-awaited release of phones running Microsoft Windows 7.

These handsets, which will start out on AT and T Mobile, will be the first to run the latest version of Windows and you’d think this would be a big deal given the size of Microsoft Corp. and its dominance of the PC world.

Well, you’d be wrong.

Microsoft has pretty much hopelessly blundered its way into the smart-phone market and until this point has made little splash with the devices running Windows Mobile. Now it is releasing probably the best phone operating system it has created thus far and . . . another thud.

It’s not that the phones are that bad. There are some decent features on the new phones coupled with the new operating system that are pretty good. It is just too little and too late for Microsoft to make a significant splash in this market.

The tale of the tape: Google Inc.’s Android operating system, which runs on dozens of phones now, already has grabbed a 32 per cent market share. BlackBerry has 25 per cent and falling and Apple has 26 per cent and falling. So to get a significant market share, Microsoft must produce a product better than the Android flood, the iPhone and Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry line. That’s not going to happen.

Thanks to a lousy business plan, consumers are locked into contracts with their smart phones and they can’t just run out and get the latest toy even if they wanted it. Then Microsoft has to show that its product is worth changing for, that there will be enough applications for Windows Mobile and that learning a whole new way of doing something is worth it. Those are huge hurdles for consumers today and most won’t start that race.

There is a chance that the Windows phones will be a minor hit in the corporate world because of the tight integration with Exchange mail, SharePoint and Office. That’s why so many people are still carrying BlackBerries . . . because their company makes them and pays the bill. So some companies with close ties to Microsoft will take the plunge and roll out the newest phones but that also won’t make a significant dent in the marketplace. For now the market belongs to Android and the flurry of new devices that run Google’s operating system. Steve Jobs over at Apple never learned the VHS/Betamax lesson and despite leadership in the nice iPhone, tied it to one carrier and one device. That has cost Apple dearly when it has come to profit and market share when it once had a chance to own the mobile-phone marketplace with the clearly superior iPhone.

Now Apple is reversing course and preparing to introduce an iPhone product for Verizon in a few months. But after three years and the successful launch of Android it remains to be seen how successful that bid will be in the long term.

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His e-mail address is jim@cyberdads.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ice shifted to the shoreline at Sylvan Lake on April 21. (Photo contributed by Andrea Swainson)
Icy shores of Sylvan Lake

A local photographer has captured how the ice has shifted to the… Continue reading

Curtis Labelle (second from left) and his band are planning a cross-Canada tour in 2022. Meanwhile, Labelle is continuing to host his weekly livestreamed talk show, Chattin 88. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer rock pianist takes on a talk show role

Curtis Labelle’s Chattin 88 gets views from around the globe

A boat sits idle on the banks of Villa Victoria Dam, the main water supply for Mexico City residents, on the outskirts of Toluca, Mexico, Thursday, April 22, 2021. The mayor of Mexico City said the drought was the worst in 30 years, and that problem can be seen at the series of reservoirs that bring in water from other states to supply the capital. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2020, file photo Caitlyn Jenner speaks at the 4th Women’s March in Los Angeles. Jenner has been an Olympic hero, a reality TV personality and a transgender rights activist. Jenner has been consulting privately with Republican advisers as she considers joining the field of candidates seeking to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a likely recall election later this year. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Jenner adds celebrity, questions to California governor race

Celebrity activist immediately stands out in a growing field

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 file photo, Jeremy Fleming, head of the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), in London. Western countries risk losing control of technologies that are key to internet security and economic prosperity to nations with competing values like China and Russia if they don’t act to deal with the threat, one of the U.K.’s top spy chiefs warned on Friday, April 23, 2021. “Significant technology leadership is moving East” and causing a conflict of interests and values, Jeremy Fleming, director of government electronic surveillance agency GCHQ, said in a speech. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
UK spy chief says West faces ‘moment of reckoning’ on tech

China’s Foreign Ministry condemn the remarks

Brooke Henderson, of Canada, watches her tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round of the Tournament of Champions LPGA golf tournament, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Canadian Brooke Henderson vaults into tie for fourth at LPGA Tour event

Henderson is sixth in the world women’s golf rankings

Switzerland’s skip Silvana Tirinzoni makes a call during a women’s curling match against Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Natacha Pisarenko
Previously unbeaten women’s teams suffer setbacks at Grand Slam curling event

Top six women’s and men’s teams qualify for the playoffs.

FILE - Gal Gadot arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gadot is using her Hollywood star power to spotlight remarkable women from around the world. The “Wonder Woman” actor is host and executive producer of a new documentary series “National Geographic Presents IMPACT with Gal Gadot,” premiering Monday, April 26. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Gal Gadot spotlights women’s stories in new docuseries

First episode follows a young Black figure skating coach in Detroit

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino listens to speakers during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday October 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Retaking language test unfair during COVID-19: applicants to new residency pathway

New program aims to grant 90,000 essential workers and international graduates permanent status

LtE bug
Letter: Questions around city funding for Westerner

The Advocate article on April 21 on page 3 “Council to discuss… Continue reading

Most Read