Talking with Windows Mobile at CntrStg

During CES, Senior Product Manager for Windows Mobile – Greg Sullivan, came out to CntrStg to talk to us in more detail about what Steve Ballmer showed off during his keynote a couple days earlier. Greg walked us through the new Netflix application that allows you to control and rank your downloads as well as start a movie download so that it will be ready for watching when you get home from work. NetFlix and Microsoft have worked hard on this and it looks very nice! If only NetFlix had a Canadian presence.

Temporale-CES-WindowsMobile-LogoGreg also talked about the long awaited IE Mobile 6. This was announced last year at Mobile World Congress and was promised as something that would be widely available “soon”. Ultimately, the problem came down to performance and the default setup of devices didn’t allow for optimal performance of the application. So instead of releasing it early and having a mediocre response, they decided to bundle it with new devices that would be better optimized to handle it. You can expect devices to begin to ship with IE Mobile 6 in Q1 of this year. That pretty much means any day now.

I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone; Microsoft has been focusing Windows Mobile on the enterprise market in the past. To bring the phones to a wider consumer adoption, Microsoft understands that changes are needed and they are working on those changes – whatever they may be. According to Greg, a platform update that is set to ship later this year will dramatically change the user experience and help to extend Windows Mobile into the consumer market. Try as we did, Greg wouldn’t expand on this comment. I guess all we can do is wait and see. Hopefully we’ll get an announcement or some sneak peak at the upcoming MWC.

One thing Microsoft wanted to make very clear was their intentions around creating a Zune phone or zPhone as some have referred to it as. It seems that almost every website and blog on the internet are predicting that Microsoft is working on a Zune phone to compete with Apple and their iPhone. Greg’s statement was pretty clear on this; He said that Microsoft has no plans, near or far term, to build a zone phone. I think there’s lots of room for debate on if this is the right course of action or not. Regardless, we’re not going to be seeing a Zune phone anytime soon.

Some claim that the lack of an iconic device is the biggest thing holding Windows Mobile back from mass consumer adoption. Apple has shown that by controlling the device and the OS, they can better market the product to consumers and create that iconic device. Microsoft is happy with making the operating system and letting their partners build the hardware. This approach hasn’t yielded a single iconic device, but to-date it has driven 11 different phones to pass the 1 million units sold mark, which is no small feat. Last year alone(2008), Windows Mobile saw 20 million units sold, about 4 times that of Apple. It will be interested to see what Microsoft can do with a more consumer focused OS.

About Mike Temporale

Mike Temporale has written 614 posts on Mobile Jaw..

Mike Temporale grew up fascinated by computers since an early age. His first hands on with a computer came when he was 7 years old and a travelling lab of Commodore PET computers made a stop at his school. Hooked on the new world these devices offered, he took any chance possible to get in front of a computer. When Compaq launched the iPaq 3600, he was hooked again. This time on a whole new world of mobile computing. Today, Mike spends his day helping clients deploy and manage their mobile device around the world. From installing custom software, to locking and securing data, and everything in between. He is also the Editor in Chief at Mobile Jaw - a site focused on today's mobile world.

  • Charles

    “Apple has shown that by controlling the device and the OS, they can better market the product to consumers and create that iconic device.”

    The OS underlying the iPhone doesn’t matter to users — it could just as easily be Linux. It’d be more accurate to say that “Apple has shown that by COMPLETELY controlling the device and the USER EXPERIENCE, they’ve created a better device that’s more marketable to consumers.”

    The key is that when you buy an iPhone, you know what the user experience is going to be (1) very nice and (2) consistent — “any color as long as its black”, with all the benefits and drawbacks of a single-vendor solution.

    That’s enough to Apple to earn a very healthy marketshare early on (until the rest of the industry gets its act together), and hold onto a profitable marketshare in the long run.

    Apps like Kinoma Play show that Windows Mobile can support apps that out-cool the iPhone. If Microsoft can pull together an appealing, coherent user experience on top of the OS (as they are with Windos 7) and make vendor-specific “shells” like TouchSLO obsolete, there’s no reason the Windows Mobile ecosystem shouldn’t grow like gangbusters.

  • Mike Temporale

    @Charles – That’s the exact point I was trying to make. Apple has complete control from start to finish, while Microsoft has limited control. I just fumbled it in the delivery. ;)

    Thanks for the tip on Kinoma Play – looks very cool. I’ll have to give it a try. :)

  • Charles

    You didn’t fumble it at all! I just wanted to add a couple points to a very interesting article.