Latest news about Microsoft make me think that Steve Ballmer is not that crazy how he looks when you take a picture of him without the right notice.
A few big news are expected at next Mobile World Congress, with Redmondians yet to announce a brand new set of services called SkySomething. In fact Microsof is likely to announce at least:
- an application marketplace for its mobile platform called skymarket
- a live infrastructure to deliver cloud based office automation services called SkyLive (no more pocketoffice)
In case microsoft will succeed -finally- to provide customers with an acceptable UI (and will no more force us to see compelling home screens – as for HTC Touch – right one click away from old fashioned windows 95 inspired screenshots) this could end up in granting a chance in mobile software market.
Microsoft has a decent ecosystem: despite being traditionally a closed company, thanks to the leadership position in the IT market (both home desktops and infrastructures) and to a not negligible quality and size of its SDK, convinced a relevant number of developers to approach, use and fall in love with .net (after all, who really cares if your customers use firefox?).
Given that, I expect that populating skymarket will be not such difficult: will not require 10 M$ , – not so much after all - and will not take so much time as a whole.
Microsoft has a relevant installed base in business mail and collaboration infrastructures thanks to Exchange and owns an important cloud PaaS environment that is aims to interwork seamlessly with your on-premise services. I figure out they know how to serve a convincing live office automation service (did you try office live?).
Microsoft is to business market what Google is to end-user market but we should keep in mind that business market has more lock in an, at the end, pays some licensing fees (Big G please confirm that you don’t want my money). Is there somebody at RIM that is thinking about that? hope so.
Windows mobile is now a niche product that faces a crowded supplier market. Its market share, thanks to RTOS death at least, is going to improve.
But, you can’t rely only on your quality since during downturns is often price that makes the point and lessening the BOM is always a good new to OEMs.
Furthermore, the OS market is now widening with new device types like netbooks and, since this process comes during a low investments phase it strongly goes against Microsoft former business model (license based).
The next move that can be decisive should be lowering the client platform, and I mean both: Windows Mobile 7 and Windows 7 (is anybody wondering of the double 7 case like i do? same platform number…they should inter-work).
Will Microsoft be able to change? I think that most of the decision will rely on the success that cloud services – both the thin client technologies and the EaaS with Azure – and the upcoming Skysomething will have in short-mid time.
Then the actual change could end up in an opensourced Windows or follow other strategies. For example a freemium business model (with premium releases offering something like automated backup, automated antivirus… , automated desktop management at the end).
Let’s see if Ballmer has the X factor. Let’s see.