By Greg Mills
Sometimes the tech media runs the most hysterical articles, ones that are so transparently sponsored by big money. Case in point: an MSNBC article (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38741936/ns/technology_and_science-wireless/) touting the unreleased vaporware that is the Mobile Windows 7 platform that Microsoft is busy working on.
Posting a review of vaporware is an exercise in foolishness, especially given Microsoft's lousy track record. They raise expectations to counter innovative products Apple actually releases. The failed Vista, Kin and Zune employees are hard at work putting their vast innovation skills into this coming Mobile OS, which is really Microsoft's "too late, last chance" to even be relevant in the modern smartphone market.
To understand how such mindless dribble could be posted on a major news web site, like MSNBC, note that the M in the name stands for Microsoft. The author mentions the fact that, while the company that writes his paychecks is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal, he claims "his opinion is not influenced in any way." Hmmm, as Shakespeare noted, "thou protesteth too much." To think that this phony "flowers" article he posted was unbiased is nonsense. What legitimated tech writer pumps unreleased vaporware anyway? Of course, he presents his "proof of impartiality" by admitting he uses an iPhone.
When Wilson Rothman actuality trashes his iPhone for a Windows Mobile 7 phone, that is when he has some credibility to tout the promised Microsoft OS. The new Windows Mobile OS is expected to launch with a whopping 50 games available, all of which are related to the Xbox.
In fact, the killer function is that the un-launched vaporware Mobile OS is counting on is a connection to the game console. Sound to me like Microsoft is strong-arming it's Xbox developers to write apps for the promised mobile OS. Rothman says, "The good news is, it sounds like the games division (of Microsoft) is totally on board, and ready to fight for this as if it were a console: to produce mobile versions of Xbox favorites while sweet-talking the owners of other major console franchises to get with the program."
Yeah right. Major developers were born yesterday and just love everything Microsoft does.
The concept is that games on the Windows Mobile OS will work with Xbox to operate their 3-D avatar and keep track of Xbox scores as well as working over the Xbox live system. All this sounds like it could be done with an iPhone or Android app ... why punish the world with another flavor of Windows?
Frankly, I expect that some developer will do just that. Gut the killer app Microsoft is counting on by releasing an iPhone and Android app that does the "Mobile Xbox" tricks on iPhones and Androids. Who would then buy a Windows cell phone. Or, more importantly, who will build them one? Mattel may sit this one out, having been badly burned by manufacturing the disastrously infamous Ken (Kin) phone for Microsoft.
Assume of the 25 million Xbox owners out there, half are old enough to own a smartphone. Then assume that of the 12.5 million Xbox owners old enough to buy and support a smartphone 80% of them also own a PlayStation or Wii, which they like even better than the Xbox. How many rabid Xbox owners are so into Xbox they will put up with the indignities of using a brand new Microsoft Windows Mobile OS to hook up to their internet connected Xboxes? The answer is not enough to matter in the real smartphone war going on between Apple and Google.
I count RIM as also losing out due to the loss of unique encrypted security features they need to hold onto the business market they have enjoyed in the past. Microsoft is an also ran mobile cell phone OS vendor, but a stone looser in the modern smartphone market.
Also, hanging the name "Windows" around the neck of the promised Microsoft Mobile OS is an albatross due to the misery PC users associate with that name. I bet Wilson Rothman US$20 Microsoft is completely out of the mobile OS business by this time next year and will take a serious loss on Windows Mobile 7. I would bet him another $20 that Microsoft CEO Ballmer is out by this time next year.
(Greg Mills is currently a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Married, with one daughter still at home, Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's web sites at http://www.gregmills.info . He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org )