Microsoft launched the Windows Phone 7 Series, the successor to Windows Mobile 6.5 and the company's hope for reversing its declining market share, during a Feb. 15 press conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Analysts from across the spectrum have already weighed in on the smartphone operating system's chances of success in the market, with many seeing Microsoft's total revamp as a positive sign of potential future success. However, some of those analysts have expressed concern about Microsoft's ability to succeed in a mobile space crowded with the likes of Apple's iPhone and Google Android, and Windows Phone 7 Series' rate of adoption within the enterprise.
Microsoft timed the announcement of its next big hope for mobile, the
Windows Phone 7 Series, to make a splash at Mobile World Congress.
However, it will likely take more than a year-given that devices that
run on the OS are scheduled to debut in time for holiday 2010-before its impact
on the market, and Microsoft's declining mobile market share, is fully
known. In the meantime, a number of analysts have already begun to comment on
Windows Phone 7 and its potential effect on the market.
Phone 7 Series will integrate both Xbox Live and Zune software,
"hubs" that aggregate content from a number of areas viewed as
pertinent to the user's life. For example, the "People" hub will
merge together data from Outlook, Windows Live and other social networking
services; in total, hubs will include "People," "Pictures,"
"Office," "Music & Video" and "Games."
"The upcoming Windows Phone 7 is a bold bet-it is an entirely new
version of Windows and is a clean break from the Windows Mobile line,"
Katherine Egbert, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in a Feb. 16
research note. "The prototype has received favorable reviews from Engadget
and Gizmodo, et.al., but only time will tell if WP7 will win with
Egbert noted that Microsoft seems geared for a seismic change in its
approach to the mobile arena, and perhaps will benefit from what it saw as a
decline in share for Apple's iPhone franchise.
"Microsoft is comparing its efforts with WP7 to the transition from DOS
to Windows in the 1980s," she wrote. "They believe that hardware
developers and application providers are likely to coalesce their efforts
around a few standard OS platforms. They also expected the leading integrated
device manufacturer, Apple, to lose share over time, like in the early 1980s,
as horizontalization propels choice, lower prices and improved
here for more information on Windows Phone 7 Series.
recent report from comScore indicates that Apple expanded its reach into the
mobile arena between September and December 2009
, gaining 1.2 points for an
estimated 25.3 percent market share, while Google climbed 2.7 points to reach
5.2 percent. By contrast, Microsoft saw its share decline by exactly 1 point,
from 19 percent to 18 percent, during that same period. Research In Motion also
experienced a 1 point decline, from 42.6 to 41.6 percent.
Other analysts agree that, despite this mobile relaunch, Microsoft faces an
uphill battle in a competitive space.
"We think that it is too early to make a call whether Windows Phone 7
will help Microsoft to stabilize/gain market share in the smart phone market,
but it is an impressive good start," Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst with
Collins Stewart, wrote in a Feb. 16 research note. "It is important for
Microsoft to stay highly competitive in the mobile market because-1) mobile
devices have been used by both Apple and Google to wedge the core PC market ... and
2) mobile Internet is an extremely large emerging opportunity."
Aggarwal sees smartphone operating systems with "preinstalled mobile
products including mobile search" as the key to growing this mobile
Still other analysts feel that the radical departure of Windows Phone 7 from
previous editions in Microsoft's mobile line could have a negative impact on
its adoption within the enterprise.
"The change will not endear Microsoft to its existing base of corporate
users who will have to redesign and redeploy their apps if they are to utilize
this new platform," Jack Gold, an analyst with J. Gold Associates, wrote
in a Feb. 15 research note. "We don't think Microsoft can count on many
enterprises making such a transition/upgrade, and most organizations will
likely stay with older WinMo versions (especially those using ruggedized
devices, e.g., Symbol, or those with apps that can't be easily transported)."
Gold added: "Traditional WinMo corporate device suppliers (e.g., HP, HTC)
will likely find other platforms/OSes attractive, and enterprise users should
start evaluating end of life strategies for existing WinMo devices. We expect
WP7 to be more attractive to SMB users than to larger corporations-a
substantial market which Microsoft would do well to capture."
Microsoft plans to continue to invest in Windows Mobile 6.5, according to CEO
Steve Ballmer, who mentioned during a Feb. 15 press
conference at the show in Barcelona
that the previous mobile operating system will be supported even as the Windows
Phone 7 Series rolls out.
Hardware partners for that rollout will include Qualcomm for the
optimization of hardware and software, and OEMs ranging from Hewlett-Packard
and HTC to Sony Ericsson and Samsung.
Operator partners will include T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon, although
Microsoft indicated during the press conference that AT&T will be
considered a "premier partner." Microsoft intends for a deeper degree
of hardware homogenization between the devices.