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Microsoft Corp. will not try to tailor its Windows Phone operating system (OS) specifically for enterprise users in a bid to make it more popular. Instead, the company will try to make its mobile platform and devices on its base more appealing to people in general. After the devices become popular on the market, enterprise users will gradually pick them up.

“The most important thing is to capture the hearts and minds of people. People work, people have personal lives, but people – and if we can all remember back long enough, the BlackBerry actually did not come in as a ‘enterprise’ solution. BlackBerry came in as something that individuals wanted and that corporations could support,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft, at the annual Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting.

The approach of Microsoft is nothing new. Apple released its iPhone as a universal device to consume content that it sells via iTunes and targeting just consumers. Several years later, the majority of Fortune 100 companies either use the iPhone or test drive it. In the meantime, market share of RIM’s Blackberry is decreasing, albeit the devices appeal to both consumers and enterprise users.


Latest Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" phones from HTC

“What we are trying to do is make sure we capture some imagination with people. I won't call them consumer people or enterprise people. [With Windows Phone 7] we still had some things we needed to do on our security and management story, our 7.5 release is much stronger. We'll continue to drive that very hard. There certainly is a market opportunity, if you will, that presents itself, but all good market opportunities have to start with some enthusiasm by people as people,” added Mr. Ballmer.

Although Nokia Corp.’s Symbian has been the most widely spread mobile platform for many years, Apple managed to spur a great enthusiasm towards iPhone among its loyal customers and eventually independent software vendors. Based on comments by Mr. Ballmer, Microsoft hopes to copy Apple’s approach and target consumers first and only then add functionality that makes life easier for people as professionals.

The natural problem for Microsoft is that it does not have customers that are as loyal and enthusiastic as customers of Apple and Nokia. What Microsoft has are hundreds of thousands of developers that are ready to design Windows-compatible software. What Microsoft needs to do is to make them design programs for Windows Phone as well. Partly, similarities between Windows 8 and Windows Phone help that. The problem is that the world’s largest software company has to make the WP platform popular among end-users, something that the company has failed to do so far.

But while Microsoft seems to be bullish and even overoptimistic about market potential of Windows Phone, it seems that at present it is not really popular. Based on recent findings from Gartner market research firm, the share of Microsoft Windows Phone- and Windows Mobile-based smartphones decreased to 1.6% in Q2 2011, down from 4.9% a year before. In fact, WP and WM handsets are currently behind Samsung's proprietary Bada (1.9%), RIM's Blackberry (11.7%) and Apple's iOS (18.2%) despite of the fact that they are available from numerous vendors.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows Phone, Nokia, Blackberry

Discussion

Comments currently: 3
Discussion started: 09/22/11 03:44:30 PM
Latest comment: 09/24/11 11:59:17 AM

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1. 
"BlackBerry actually did not come in as a ‘enterprise’ solution. BlackBerry came in as something that individuals wanted and that corporations could support."

And then Apple came along and made a device that did it in a way people liked more than the BlackBerry. But the BlackBerry house didn't fall overnight--it wasn't until Apple added things like Exchange support, support for EAS policies, local storage encryption (even though easily bypassed), etc. that it really took off in the enterprise, and the numbers went way up. Yes, people bought it for what it offered over the BlackBerry, but the market really opened up after the minimum necessary amount of enterprise support was added.

The problem is that, while Windows Phone 7 is different than iOS, the difference isn't nearly as large as iOS vs. BlackBerry. The same get-customers-first logic can't really be applied. But what's worse, the enterprise support is even worse than iOS--no local encryption support! Microsoft's own offering provides worse support for their own enterprise products than that of its main competitors. I can understand the need to get a product on the market quickly, but that is unacceptable. Furthermore, of anyone on the market, Microsoft stands in the best position of all to offer true, full enterprise support. Enterprise shops allow iPhones and Android despite the security concerns because the secure alternative is hobbled in comparison (from a user's perspective).

Microsoft is more or less in the unique position to satisfy both users and enterprise needs, but they'd rather continue to storm the iOS/Android fortress rather than utilize their Trojan Horse. The Horse has a ready-built marketing strategy as well. Why they think the script that worked for BlackBerry and Apple will obviously work for them is beyond me, but good luck nonetheless.

(I'm a very happy WP7/Samsung Focus owner.)
0 0 [Posted by: bluvg  | Date: 09/22/11 03:44:30 PM]
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2. 
They a see a trend (Apple's success with consumers), extrapolate and jump on the bandwagon. As if by 2015 no work will be done and we will all be consumers.
0 0 [Posted by: CSMR  | Date: 09/24/11 11:59:17 AM]
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