Microsoft saw its share of the U.S. mobile OS market dip slightly between September and December 2009, to 18 percent, even as it launched Windows Mobile 6.5 in an attempt to stop its mobile market erosion. Microsoft has already begun incremental updates to Mobile 6.5, but the next big date to watch for is Feb. 15, when the company makes an announcement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that could be the rollout of Windows Mobile 7. One of Microsoft's main smartphone OS rivals, Research In Motion, also experienced a slight dip during that three-month period ending 2009.
Microsoft saw its share of the U.S.
mobile operating-system market fall slightly between September and December
2009, the period during which the company launched its Windows Mobile 6.5
update in an attempt to slow or halt its market share declines.
to ComScore's Feb. 8 report
, Microsoft's share of the U.S.
mobile operating-system market declined exactly 1 point, from 19 percent to 18
percent, between September and December 2009. Research In Motion also
experienced a 1-point drop, albeit from 42.6 to 41.6 percent, and Palm suffered
a 2.2-point drop from 8.3 percent to 6.1 percent.
By contrast, Apple gained 1.2 points during that period, claiming an
estimated 25.3 percent market share, while Google climbed 2.7 points to reach
5.2 percent of the market.
Microsoft attempted to position Windows Mobile 6.5 as a chance to begin anew
in the smartphone OS space, where it had seen its longer-term market share
decline in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Apple, RIM and other
competitors. "It's the right time to take a look at the brand, the new
capability that we built in and the new business experience," Greg
Sullivan, senior product manager for Windows Mobile, said in an interview with
eWEEK on the eve of the operating system version's release.
Windows Mobile 6.5, Sullivan added at the time, represents "a restart
of our efforts in the mobile space and a continuation of the work we've done in
the past, with new capability delivered in a much more frequent way."
overall strategy centered on releasing Mobile 6.5 on a variety of smartphones
including ones by HTC, Sony Ericsson and LG
Electronics. Microsoft also pushed to create a mobile application ecosystem for
Windows Marketplace, designed as a competitor to Apple's App Store. While
Microsoft executives had dangled the hope that third-party developers could
build enough programs for its storefront to launch with 600 apps in place,
Marketplace ended up launching in October with some 246 applications from more
than 753 ISVs (independent software vendors).
When contacted by eWEEK on Feb. 4 and asked how many applications are
currently in the Marketplace, a Microsoft spokesperson responded: "In
November we announced over 800 applications in Windows Marketplace for Mobile,
more than three times the number we offered when Marketplace launched just a
In addition, the spokesperson added, "We've estimated that there are
around 20,000 applications available for the Windows Mobile 6x platform,
although it's important to note that Windows Marketplace for Mobile
is not meant to aggregate all available mobile applications."
That spokesperson declined to offer the number of applications in the
Marketplace as of February, saying, "We don't release the exact numbers for
applications because it changes all the time." Counted by hand on Feb. 9, the Windows Marketplace
for Mobile Website
listed 718 mobile applications, in 14 categories, for
U.S.-based Mobile 6.x smartphones. A pulldown menu on
that Website gives access to mobile-application pages for other countries and
their native languages, including Italy and Korea; a number of those countries,
however, have only a small handful of programs listed, suggesting that the
worldwide total of Mobile 6.x applications is not exponentially higher than
that of the United States.
By contrast, Apple's
App Store expanded to more than 100,000 apps in 2009
, with research firm IDC
predicting in a Dec. 3 research note that the storefront will expand to around
300,000 apps by the end of 2010. That note also predicted that Google Android's
apps could expand "by a factor of five or more" over the next 12
Microsoft is planning a major smartphone-related rollout at Barcelona's
Mobile World Congress on Feb. 15; general online consensus seems to be that
Microsoft will either introduce a totally new Mobile 7
or a largely revamped version of Mobile 6.5.
updates to Mobile 6.5 are already circulating in the wild
, with the Feb. 2
debut of the Sony Ericsson Aspen running Windows Mobile 6.5.3, a version with
tweaks including capacitive touch-screen support, a horizontal scroll bar in
place of tabs, touch support for legacy applications and a platform for
If Microsoft does choose to announce Mobile 7 on Feb. 15, for a rollout
either later in 2010 or early 2011, then questions may arise over the company's
road map for supporting multiple operating systems running on a variety of