10 Things Microsoft Must Do to Save Its Mobile Business

News Analysis: Microsoft is facing down Apple, one of the most dominant companies in the mobile market. And as it continues to lose market share, the company is hoping that Windows Phone 7 will save the day. But its hopes for a bright future go far beyond a single mobile operating system. If Microsoft wants to be successful in the mobile market, there are some strategies it must follow.

A recent report from market research company ComScore found that Microsoft's mobile market share has slipped once again to just 15 percent of the market, representing a 4 percent decline since November.

Although Google is still slightly behind Microsoft, ComScore found that its market share grew 5.2 percent over the same period, putting it within striking distance of Microsoft. That would put Google, rather than Microsoft, next behind Apple and Research In Motion in the mobile market.
Perhaps that's why Microsoft is so focused on its mobile division in 2010. The company has already announced Windows Phone 7. And according to recent reports it's expected soon to show off its "Pink" series of phones, which are designed for young social-networking enthusiasts.

In either case, Microsoft is making it clear that it's gunning for the highly coveted consumer market that Apple revitalized with its iPhone. It wants to regain some of the precious market share that it lost when it was toiling away with Windows Mobile 6, while the competition was changing the smartphone landscape.
But whether or not Microsoft will be successful in regaining its past glory is hard to say. The company has a tough, uphill battle ahead of it. Here is what Microsoft has to do to save its mobile business.
1. Focus on consumers
Microsoft is right to focus on consumers, rather than waste time trying to attract the enterprise. RIM is the major player in the mobile enterprise market. But for now, it's not the biggest threat to Microsoft's mobile business. Apple has totally revolutionized the mobile space and, so far, Microsoft hasn't responded. Microsoft needs to get to work on Windows Phone 7 to make sure it appeals to consumers first. If they like it and Microsoft can start cutting into Apple's market share, things might start looking up. If not and Microsoft focuses on the corporate space, expect more trouble ahead.
2. Forget about Pink
Although Microsoft Pink is a code name for the phone software that people expect to see showcased April 12, Microsoft had better rename it. Pink is a fine color, but it's not a good product name, and would join an exceptionally long line of poorly named Microsoft products. As Apple has shown, a name means quite a bit. Microsoft needs to be smarter with its name choices and pick something that actually appeals to consumers. I just don't think "Pink" will cut it.
3. Mobile apps mean everything
Microsoft has said when it releases Windows Phone 7, it will offer an application store that can compete with Apple's App Store, Google's Android Market and RIM's BlackBerry App World. It better. Mobile apps have quickly moved from "nice-to-have" to "must-have" status. Currently, Apple offers well over 150,000 applications in its App Store. Google offers more than 20,000 apps. If Microsoft doesn't extend the functionality of its software through the help of third-party apps, it'll be in deep trouble. The more apps you offer, the better, Microsoft. Remember that.
4. Be better than Apple
Given Microsoft's current standing in the market and how much market share it's losing with each passing day, it's not enough for the company to simply match Apple. With Windows Phone 7 in hand, Microsoft needs to try to beat Apple on every front that it can. Right now, consumers are happy with Apple products. Getting them to switch won't be easy if a device is equally as good as the iPhone. The only way to make consumers think twice about Apple's product is to give them something that critics and their friends agree is better than what Apple puts out. It's Microsoft's only option.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...