Windows Mobile is in trouble. Microsoft's mobile operating system, which once did a fine job of providing enterprise users with a viable experience, has quickly faltered as RIM's BlackBerry OS, Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platform have all found ways to appeal to customer desire far more effectively.
Part of that decline is due to Microsoft's poor strategy. The company believed that status quo would win the day and stuck with an outdated interface to compete with software that is far more intuitive. It was a major blunder that, so far, Microsoft hasn't been able to overcome.
Unfortunately, things could be getting worse. As the software giant prepares to release Windows Mobile 6.5.3, customers are still wondering when Microsoft will launch Windows Mobile 7. A recent report claims Microsoft might be forced to delay Windows Mobile 7 to 2011. So far, there seems to be little foundation for this report, since Microsoft and its vendors have said nothing about such a long delay. For now, it's purely a rumor.
But what if Microsoft did in fact delay Windows Mobile 7 to 2011? Considering the software giant hasn't made any promises about the software's launch, it is certainly possible that it could happen. If it does, it could spell serious trouble for Microsoft's mobile efforts. In fact, such a delay might even destroy any chance of Microsoft making a comeback in the mobile market.
Microsoft must release Windows Mobile 7 in 2010. Here's why:
1. A new generation of phones
By delaying Windows Mobile 7's release to 2011, Microsoft will put itself in an even less tenable position. Apple, Google's partners and Research in Motion will likely release new devices this year that improve upon current offerings. The gap between a new Windows Mobile 7 device and this generation's group of phones is substantial. But by waiting a year, Microsoft will find itself even further behind.
2. Windows Mobile 6.5 is abysmal
Although Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spent considerable time singing its praises at CES, Windows Mobile 6.5 is in no way a viable competitor to the operating systems of the iPhone, BlackBerry or any Android phone. Any customer who compares a Windows Mobile 6.5 device with an iPhone or a BlackBerry will be disappointed by Microsoft's offering. Does Microsoft really want that disappointment to last another year?
3. Users want touch screens
If the iPhone and Android devices have shown anything, it's that many users want to use a touch-screen display. Granted, there are still some who prefer a physical keyboard and no touch screen, but the sales growth of touch-screen phones reflects many customers' preference for controlling devices with their fingers. Windows Mobile 6.5 can't deliver that experience. Windows Mobile 7 will. The longer Microsoft waits to release the new software, the more likely that users will opt for other software.
4. It has been delayed enough
If Ballmer had his wish, Windows Mobile 7 would have already hit store shelves. Speaking at an event last September, Ballmer said mistakes had been made with Windows Mobile and he wished the new software had already launched. Considering how mad Ballmer was in 2009, what would he (and his shareholders) think if Windows Mobile 7 is delayed another year? Enough is enough, Microsoft. Get the software out as soon as possible.