Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer suggested during the company's Venture Capital Summit that it had made mistakes in the execution of its Windows Mobile operating system, according to attendees at the closed-door meeting. Despite a massive push accompanying Windows Mobile 6.5's release on Oct. 6, Microsoft finds itself in something of an uphill battle for mobile OS market share against Apple, Palm and other competitors already in the space.
invited no press to its Venture Capital Summit Sept. 24, but word has leaked
out that CEO Steve Ballmer suggested that
his company "screwed up" on Windows Mobile, its operating system for
A handful of venture capitalists present at the event sent messages via
Twitter about Ballmer's admission. Hamburg-based venture capitalist Paul Jozefak wrote in a
much-publicized Tweet: "Ballmer says they screwed up with Windows
Mobile. Wishes they had already launched WM7. They completely revamped the
Microsoft did not respond to eWEEK's request for comment.
Windows Mobile has indeed faced several hurdles of late. Despite an
aggressive effort over the summer to place the upcoming version, Windows Mobile
6.5, in a strong competitive position against well-established competitors such
as Palm and Apple, Microsoft saw its mobile OS market share decline to around 9
percent in the second quarter of 2009.
Microsoft plans to issue the next generation of the operating system, Mobile
7, in the fourth quarter of 2010. While Mobile
6.5 contains a number of improvements, including expanded touch capabilities
and customizable widgets, Mobile 7 will supposedly offer
functionality that allows the operating system to compete more heartily against
the Apple iPhone and the Palm Pre.
As part of the ramp-up for Mobile 6.5, Microsoft has
been encouraging developers to create applications for its Windows Marketplace,
with the hope that about 600 of them will be available by the Oct. 6 launch
is attempting to woo developers by encouraging them to price their applications
At the beginning of September, Microsoft and various manufacturing partners
announced that Mobile 6.5 would roll out on smartphone models from LG
Electronics, HTC and Sony Ericsson, for
a total of 13 Windows phones by the end of 2010.
Despite these efforts, Microsoft has also been busy porting its mobile
functionality onto competitors' smartphone operating systems. On. Aug. 12,
Microsoft announced a deal with Nokia that would make a
mobile version of Microsoft Office available for Symbian, Nokia's mobile
Immediately following that announcement, representatives of Nokia and
Microsoft declined to comment to eWEEK on how the Office deal would affect the
two companies' competition for mobile OS market share. Analysts suggested at
the time, however, that such an agreement would increase competition with
"I don't think the news necessarily hurts OEMs who have historically
produced [Windows Mobile] devices, except that they can now expect stronger
competition from Nokia," Chris Schreck, an analyst with IMS Research, told
eWEEK at the time. "If an OEM was wondering what platforms to support five
years from now, the argument for continuing to pay royalties to license Windows
Mobile just got a little bit weaker."
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.