It’s clear the war is on between the big players on the mobile market. Already for a longer time it has been noticeable that iPhone is gaining market share. This week IntoMobile showed that both Symbian and Windows Mobile are losing market share to iPhone, Android and webOS. Some days later Microsoft released its new Windows Mobile 6.5, also named Windows Phone. The question is whether Windows’ recent mobile strategy will help them to regain market share.
Some time we already concluded that iPhone is gaining market share within their business area rather quickly. Based on the statistics provided by Admob [PDF link] IntoMobile claimed that Symbian and Windows Mobile are losing mobile browser war to iPhone, Android and webOS. The AdMob figures clearly show the iPhone is currently the most popular handset and smart phone in both the US and Europe. In Asia and Africa Nokia with Symbian OS are still in the lead. In other markets you can already notice the iPhone is gaining more and more market share as well. Can any other provider stop Apple iPhones market rise? What has Windows Phone to offer?
Windows Phone (OS Windows Mobile 6.5) released
Microsoft Corp. announced this week the release of the new line of Windows® phones around the world that are available in a wide range of styles and prices. With a Windows phone, people can navigate their phone easily with the touch of a finger and browse the Internet on a great mobile browser. Users can also connect to two new services that allow them to back up and share data from their phone to the Web and buy a variety of useful applications from the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Microsoft expects partners to deliver more than 30 new phones in more than 20 countries by the end of 2009.
“We all want to connect quickly to the people and information that’s important to us from across our lives at work and at home. A Windows phone lets people take their entire world of digital information, communications, applications and entertainment with them wherever they go.” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Moving the PC desktop to the phone
The Windows Phone, based on the Windows Mobile 6.5 OS, is supposed to give you an experience similar to working on your PC. With a Windows phone, people will have familiar work and play experiences right from their Start button, including these:
• A new enhanced Windows Live experience with What’s New feeds and improved Windows Live photo sharing across major social networking sites (such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Flickr)
• A best-in-class e-mail experience and the ability to manage multiple accounts right from their phone with Outlook Mobile and Exchange Server synchronization
• The ability to use PowerPoint and open and edit Word and Excel documents with Microsoft Office Mobile
• The power to sync files on the phone through Windows Live Media Manager and play media files seamlessly with Windows Media Player
• A redesigned Windows Internet Explorer mobile browser with Adobe Flash Lite2 that brings the mobile Web browsing experience closer to what people have come to expect from their PC
Especially the integration of a Flash player is something which is lacking on the iPhone. Microsoft’s comparison of this version with the previous ones clearly shows all the differences.
Additional services have been launched
A new nice looking interface wouldn’t be sufficient to beat the iPhone. That’s why Microsoft launched new services that bring added value to people as well. My Phone is a free service that helps people manage and back up the invaluable information stored on their phone and provides peace of mind and an easy restore option in the event of a lost or damaged phone. Windows Marketplace for Mobile offers people an easy way to find and purchase high-quality mobile applications for both work and play. In fact this is a direct “copy” of the iPhone App Store.
Earlier, we wrote that Microsoft feels that they are able to compete with the App Store. The fact is that developing a Microsoft application for mobile is rather straightforward for a Microsoft developer. He can just use his known Microsoft Visual Studio, whereas a iPhone developer needs to switch to the Macintosh OS with its dedicated development tools.
Upgrade not available for everyone
Unfortunately, it is not possible to upgrade from all existing versions of Windows Mobile. Phones with Windows Mobile 5 cannot be upgraded. Some Windows Mobile 6 phones that can be upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.1 can afterwards be upgraded towards Windows Mobile 6.5. If you already have Windows Mobile 6.1 you should be able to upgrade.
Windows Phone clearly shows a new direction that Microsoft plans to follow. Even more than before, they are trying to make the mobile phone an extension of the PC desktop. Especially Microsoft addicted people (like me) will probably prefer this over the current iPhone or Blackberry. Many phone suppliers already support the new Windows Phone and that’s for sure a big advantage Microsoft has. You can choose the phone of your own choice. I will need to get such a phone soon, because I will not be able to upgrade my current one, which is a pity.
Please share your opinion and experiences with us by leaving a comment below. You can also meet with us on Twitter: @GOYELLO.
VP Software Development Europe for Aspire Systems. Sociologist and electrotechnical engineer, a great combination that stimulates him to look for the best working software solutions for clients. Passionate about converting great ideas into new solutions. Married and a proud father of 3 great sons. Training for and participating in triathlons/runs to stay fit.
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