Microsoft Must Make Its Mobile Products Sparkle

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-04-06 Print this article Print

5. Use cash for acquisitions

Google has been extremely smart with its money over the past couple years. Rather than sit on the cash and attempt to do everything itself, the company has acquired some companies to help it improve its platform. For example, it recently acquired ReMail to aid in e-mail productivity. Microsoft needs to follow suit. The company is sitting on piles of money that could be put to good use. It can comb the industry to find companies that could significantly improve its mobile platform. Whatever companies out there that can improve upon services offered by Apple and Google are worth spending money on. It's do or die for Microsoft right now. And its cash is its greatest ally.

6. Treat Windows
Mobile like Windows Vista

Although some railed against Microsoft for the way it seemingly forgot about Windows Vista after Windows 7 was announced, it was actually a smart move. Vista was a nightmare for Microsoft that it wants everyone to forget about. Windows Mobile 6.5 is awfully similar. The operating system is obsolete in today's marketplace and it's losing market share at an astounding rate. The last thing Microsoft will want to do is remind everyone that Windows Phone 7 is a follow-up to Windows Mobile. That alone could bring back some bad memories that could stop some consumers from buying a Windows Phone 7 device. Microsoft's best strategy is to pretend like Windows Mobile never happened.

7. Watch Apple closely

Apple plans to unveil iPhone OS 4.0 at an April 8 media event. Microsoft better be watching. As Apple has shown time and again, it will do what it takes to stay atop a market that it deems valuable. And with each new iteration of the iPhone OS, the company has chipped away at the problems consumers have with the software. If Steve Jobs delivers a mobile operating system that addresses the iPhone's current shortcomings, the last thing Microsoft will want to do is offer software with those shortcomings. Apple is smart and cunning. And Microsoft needs to watch closely.

8. Play nice like Google

As mentioned, an app store is extremely important to the future of Windows Phone 7. But unlike Apple, which has been a constant thorn in developers' sides, Microsoft can be Google-esque and welcome any and all developers to its platform. Out of the gate, Microsoft will be faced with the unenviable task of trying to match Apple's more than 150,000 applications. It won't get close to that number for quite a while. But it can offer unique content by working with developers to make it easy for programs to get to its store. This step should be easy for Microsoft. The company has a long history of working with third-party developers to differentiate its operating systems in a market. It needs to follow the same strategy with Windows Phone 7.

9. Marketing is key

Say what you will about Microsoft's Windows 7 marketing efforts, but they worked. They effectively got the word out to both consumers and enterprise customers that Windows 7 was a vast improvement over its predecessor. And thanks to those efforts, Windows 7 is well on its way to surpassing Vista in adoption. The software giant needs to follow the same strategy with Windows Phone 7. It needs to offer up solid, entertaining and Apple-like ads that will get people excited about the product. It also needs to clearly state why its software might be better than the competition's. Motorola did a great job of marketing the Droid as an iPhone alternative. Microsoft needs to use that as inspiration for its own marketing efforts.

10. Don't be Microsoft

This might be hard for Microsoft to hear, but when it comes to its past strategies, the company hasn't been unique. For years, Microsoft has focused its time on being, well, dull. Part of Apple's appeal is the image it portrays to its consumers. It's not a run-of-the-mill hardware company releasing mobile products. Apple is a stylish provider of premium products. Admittedly, software isn't as fun as hardware, but Microsoft needs to find a way to make it more fun than it has with its past products. It can't simply try to deliver functionality and productivity without also offering style and uniqueness. In today's market, consumers are looking for more than usable software. They want the "Wow" factor that, in most cases, Microsoft doesn't provide.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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