Today is the official launch day of Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft has been working on this one for a long time now – years. It is coming late to the market, with an offering for devices that it was never really good with (smartphones), using technologies it isn’t particularly known to dominate (touch).
That said, the initial response from the blogosphere is a positive one. Up to the point that people who I really value their opinion think that Windows Phone 7 can change the rules for the mobile industry. In his post at VisionMobile, Michael Vakulenko outlines the list of things Microsoft have going for them (differentiated user interface, Silverlight support for developers and Xbox connectivity to name a few).
If you haven’t read Michael’s piece on VisionMobile – go do it now. I’ll wait.
I almost agree with Michael, but I think that Windows Phone 7 is too little too late. It is not because handset vendors won’t use it – they are adopting it, and what choice do they have if they don’t want to be dependent on Google?
No. the reason Windows Phone 7 is too little is because of the Phone part of its name. Mobile handsets are nice. They are a huge market, but there is a larger market still – that of consumer electronic devices: televisions, car entertainment systems, set-top boxes, tablets and more.
Let’s look at how the 3 interesting players act in this field:
|Television||Apple TV||Xbox||Google TV|
|Desktop||Mac||Windows 7||Chrome browser|
|Laptop||Mac||Windows 7||Chrome browser|
|Phone||iPhone||Windows Phone 7||Android|
The products marked in red are those that are sold as end-devices by the company itself as opposed to technologies that are installed or embedded into end-devices that are designed and manufactured by third party companies – these are marked in green.
Apple went for a strategy of a closed garden where they control everything: the service, the device, the user experience and the customer.
Google went for a strategy where they want to get the data about the users and provide some of the services, leaving the device itself for others to build.
Microsoft has tied their phone “device” to their own devices (Zune and Xbox), and have let third party companies build the phone. To me, this approach won’t work: you either provide the building blocks for others to build consumer electronic devices or you do it yourself from beginning to end.
It will be hard for Microsoft to keep the handset vendors on board for this ride of Windows Phone 7 without giving them good solutions for tablets and other devices – it won’t be enough to lure them in. I do hope Microsoft has more in store for Windows Phone 7 than just a phone.