Microsoft Behind the [Mobile] 8-Ball

An interesting development – Bill Gates admits that Microsoft’s mobile strategy is clearly a mistake

windowsphone_en-us_how-to_wp8_news_spotify-news-3-460x460I’ve been saying it for years – since about 2004 actually – Microsoft has no idea what they want (at the time Windows Mobile, and now) Windows Phone to be when it grows up. They have no idea how tablet computing fits into the “mobile” picture. Apparently, according to an interview by CBS This This Morning/60 Minutes and article by Preston Gralla, Bill Gates agrees.

Honestly, it’s about time.

Microsoft has this ugly habit of wanting the [computing] world to conform to Windows, and it’s clear the world has moved on. If Microsoft wants to stay not only relevant, but profitable, it’s going to have to accept this and develop a mobile strategy that correctly and appropriately positions and empowers them. Right now, they don’t have a [mobile] clue.

In his article, Gralla says,

If Microsoft had done mobile right years ago, the iPhone never would have gone on to become such a success, and Apple would not be the dominant player in mobile. Microsoft would own mobile as well as the desktop.

I happen to agree. The world was thirsting for a smartphone or mobile device that converged the items they wanted in one place – PIM data, music, video, internet, etc. – into a single device. Microsoft had Exchange ActiveSync, WMP and an a couple different integrated content stores. It had an established application catalog in a number of different vendors, such as Handango. Had it understood how mobile should have worked, it could have gotten to the party first and taken everyone down the mobile path via their vision.

Unfortunately, Ballmer didn’t (and in my opinion, still doesn’t) understand the mobile computing market. He may be a brilliant marketing and businessman, but mobile is something that has escaped him from the get-go. What is needed from Microsoft at this point are big, bold moves powered by their branding and most importantly, their checkbook. Ballmer needs to find someone in the mobile market he trusts and then must let them define the vision and strategy

If Microsoft doesn’t get its mobile act together and define a clear mobile strategy that augments and is not encompassed by Windows, it may find itself permanently behind [the 8-ball], and eventually out of the game entirely.

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