This morning I was reading an article in which it was stated that Microsoft will be unveiling their new smartphones in the next month or so. The new phones will be using Windows Phone 7 to power their new devices and there is some speculation that Phone 7 may not be as good as what Apple and Google are offering. But there were several statements in the article that caught my attention:
“This is critical to Microsoft’s overall business,” said Avi Greengart, who follows consumer electronic devices for research firm Current Analysis. “They are being badly outflanked right now by their competitors.”
It has been a long, hard stumble for Microsoft, which boasted a strong early presence in smartphones. The company’s Windows Mobile operating system was commonly found in the smartphones used by the corporate crowd only a few years ago. But the emergence of the iPhone in 2007 forced other smartphone platforms to step up their game, and Microsoft failed to materially update its software and fell behind.
In the past year, Microsoft’s share of the smartphone operating system market has nearly halved, falling to 5% in the second quarter from 9.3% a year ago, according to Gartner.
Is the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 doomed to fail? It may be if one listens to one Microsoft supporter who has posted second thoughts about the new devices that Microsoft is introducing. Deb Shinder who is the Editor over at Win7News states that she has been a Microsoft smartphone supporter. She has owned 4 of the devices from Microsoft and was excited when she first got her hands on a demo of the phone. But since then, her opinion has changed and here is why:
A few weeks ago, the announcement came out that there would be no WP 7 on Verizon at initial release. The first phones will be GSM only. CDMA phones were promised “sometime in the first half of 2011” but even then, Verizon wasn’t specifically named and a Verizon spokesperson was quoted as saying they have “no imminent plans to release any Windows Phone 7 handsets.” Ouch. I’m not a total Verizon loyalist, and if Sprint’s 4G network should prove to be way more reliable and accessible than its 3G, I might consider moving to it, but in my area at least, friends with AT&T and T-Mobile report dropped calls and lack of signal way too frequently for me to switch to either anytime soon.
But even if the other carriers’ network problems were solved tomorrow, the two most recent bombshells about WP7 are deal breakers for me. First came the news that the phones won’t support tethering. My WMWiFiRouter app is what makes my phone worth what I pay for it, giving me the ability to connect my iPad to its wireless hotspot wherever I am, without having to pay AT&T for a 3G data plan.
And if that weren’t bad enough, right on its heels came the little tidbit, buried in this “comprehensive preview” of a WP7 handset, that “For reasons of corporate data security Microsoft has chosen to not enable removable storage (such as removable MicroSD cards) in Windows Phone 7.” No, no, no. You can take my flash card from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Whatever the reasons behind these decisions, they’re going to be seen the same way Apple’s lockdown of the iPhone is: as inspired by greed.
Bottom line: I probably won’t be getting a WP7 phone at launch (unless AT&T wants to loan me a demo and it convinces me that I’m all wrong and its good points are worth overlooking the bad). Will I stick with my Omnia II or finally break ranks and go with a Droid? That remains to be seen.
After reading what a loyal Microsoft smartphone user has to say, one could conclude that Microsoft is going to have an uphill battle on their hands. The combination of Apple’s iPhone and Google Droid is a one – two punch that Microsoft may have trouble surviving and over coming. When you have people like Deb Shinder, who was once a Microsoft smartphone loyalist doubting the new phones, how is Microsoft going to convince the masses that their phone is better?
I for one seriously doubt that they are going to be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat and to become a market leader. Just my 2 cents.
What do you think?