Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 in a New York City event Oct. 11. One analyst thinks businesses could have a hard time adopting the devices.
When Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 in a high-profile New
York City event Oct. 11, executives demoed features
designed to appeal to both consumers and businesspeople: The smartphones
include not only tight Xbox and Facebook integration, but also easy access to
mobile productivity applications and email.
"We focused in on the way real people really want to use their phones
when they're on the go," Microsoft
CEO Steve Ballmer told the assembled media and analysts. "We want you
to get in, out, and back to life."
Those words could very well prove true-with a user interface that aggregates
both Web content and apps into six subject-specific "Hubs," Windows
Phone 7 is designed for streamlined use. But just how useful will it prove to be
in the enterprise? Considering that large businesses have traditionally
represented a customer base for Microsoft's mobile products, that is no insignificant
One analyst believes that, although users could benefit from that unique
interface, the enterprise could find itself at a loss with Windows Phone
7-especially those that already devoted resources to building applications on
Microsoft's Mobile platform. "It will be hard for
apps to be ported unless they are already Silverlight-compatible or built-in
standard .Net mobile protocols," Jack Gold, primary analyst for J. Gold
Associates, wrote in an Oct. 11 research note. "The majority of enterprise
apps are not."
However, Gold added, businesspeople could find a lot in the new platform
from which to benefit. "Business users [are] the core of the previous
Windows Mobile constituency, but many have defected over the past year,"
Gold wrote. "It is unclear whether Microsoft can win them back, or even
keep the existing, albeit significantly diminished, base of enterprise users."
Despite that, "the business hub on WP7 looks compelling (provided you are
an Exchange/Outlook user)."
Windows Phone 7 "winners," Gold thinks, include Xbox gamers; "Facebook
Aficionados," who will appreciate the social network's tight integration
with the smartphones; Silverlight programmers; and users who want a consistent
smartphone offering on a variety of platforms.
Microsoft plans for appealing to both business users and consumers include a
massive marketing campaign, estimated
at $400 million by Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Goldberg, and an initial
launch of nine devices in November. At first, Windows Phone 7 will be available
only on GSM-based networks, such as AT&T and T-Mobile; however, the
smartphone platform will appear on Verizon in early 2011.
will offer three Windows Phone 7 devices at the outset: The LG Quantum
($199), which features a physical QWERTY keyboard; the HTC
Surround ($199), with a slide-out speaker and a kickstand; and the Samsung
Focus ($199), which AT&T claims will be the thinnest of the initial Windows
Phone 7 devices.
Analysts are divided over whether Windows Phone 7 will allow Microsoft to
regain market-share in the long term. Research firm Gartner, for example,
predicts that Microsoft's share will drop from 4.7 percent in 2010 to 3.9
percent in 2014, following a brief uptick in 2011.
"Launches of updated operating systems-such as Apple iOS4, BlackBerry
OS 6, Symbian 3 and Symbian 4, and Windows Phone 7-will help maintain strong
growth in smartphones in 2H10 and 2011 and spur innovation," Roberta
Cozza, an analyst with Gartner, wrote
in a Sept. 10 research note. "However, we believe that market-share in
the OS space will consolidate around a few key OS providers that have the most
support from CSPs and developers and strong brand awareness with consumer and
However, IDC predicts that Windows
Phone's market-share will grow from 6.8 percent to 9.8 percent of the
smartphone market between 2010 and 2014.
"IDC believes the market will
comfortably support up to five OS players over the next five years," Kevin
Restivo, an analyst with IDC's Worldwide
Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, wrote in a Sept. 7 statement. "Shorter
replacement cycles and an ample feature phone to smartphone upgrade opportunity
means the smartphone OS market will remain fragmented but healthy for the
foreseeable future." Within that context, no smartphone platform will
Business users will constitute a significant portion of that market, for
good or ill. In any case, Microsoft seems cognizant of how all details, no
matter how small, can potentially affect WP7's performance. Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice
president and director of Windows Phone Program Management, announced during
the Oct. 11 launch event, for example, that cut-and-paste-a user-interface
option previously announced as being unavailable during Windows Phone 7's
initial release-would make an appearance on devices in early 2011. According to
another analyst, features such as cut-and-paste could prove vital in Windows
Phone 7's play for the enterprise.
"Pretty much in the next round they have to deliver cut-and-paste,
multi-tasking and allow developers to get at the database inside the devices
now," Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC,
wrote in an Oct. 11 research note. "This will be important as they fold the
enterprise strategy back into [Windows Phone 7], which was clearly where
Windows Mobile was successful."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.