By Greg Mills
The big returns are really coming in regarding Microsoft's Mobile Vista 7. I mean big numbers of phones physically being returned by customers to the cell companies who sold them.
Big as in a very large sales disappointment for both cell phone companies around the world and cell phone hardware manufacturing partners who were willing to give the Kin crew one more chance. Numbers like 2% of all new phone sales being the new Microsoft phones isn't good news for Redmond.
The street analysts who spelled out the high expectations for Microsoft's new, but "too-late-to-the-party, unsupported by developers, last ditch stand" smart phone OS platform have to be factoring in a further decline in Microsoft stock. Hit one out of the ball park they did not.
Mobile Vista 7 phones just working and having some novel graphics was not enough to wow either the stock market, developers or consumers who have to consider the strong possibility of the new platform's failure to reach critical mass. One has to ask if an entirely new smartphone OS, even as good as Apple's first rendition of the iPhone iOS would fly four years down the road in competition with Apple's current iPhone 4 and the new iOS 4.2.1. I submit that it wouldn't, and I won't even concede that Mobile Vista 7 is as good as the original iPhone.
Just because Apple leads the way doesn't mean even the most well funded copycats can follow. This is due to the fact that no amount of money can buy back the time Microsoft frittered away while Apple innovated and patented actual smart phone and touch screen innovation.
In nuclear physics it requires what is called "critical mass" to detonate a nuclear warhead. If you don't have enough fissionable material you will have a dud device. Critical mass in modern smartphone development means there has to be a winning combination of solid hardware, innovative software features, a strong app store and app developers, good advertising and a reputation for coolness.
Quick, name something really cool Microsoft has launched in the last 10 years. Perhaps the new remote controller for the Xbox would qualify. Microsoft needs something to get the game console out of the red ink column, after all these years of losing money hand over fist. Name something else Microsoft has launched in the last 10 years that is cool. Got ya. Now name a novel feature in the new Windows phones. Now how many apps in the Windows app store.
Clearly there isn't time to pull off a last minute save on getting into the mobile market at this time. Microsoft abdicated the smart phone and tablet market at least two years ago, and the lead Apple and Google have is insurmountable. Microsoft is out of it.
Apple's numerous patents for touch screen user interface may well kill the Android competition off, or reduce that threat to Apple's smart phone dominance. RIM is falling off, and Nokia is beginning to crumble. I expect this coming year to see the tipping point for Apple to crush more of the competition. Microsoft will fold its losing hand within a few months. The combination of patent suits and market forces will do the dirty work. Apple just has to continue to innovate and win most of the pending patent infringement cases to prevail.
Speaking of something new from Microsoft that is unique and notable, the Microsoft Windows malware known as the Stuxnet worm and the saga surrounding it continues to develop. The most well qualified Iranian expert on the computer malware problems in Iran was killed yesterday by some unknown force. Another Iranian nuclear expert was badly hurt in a second assassination attempt the very same day.
Since the Russians, who were the most qualified to help them get rid of the worm infesting their computers have fled the country, a couple of months ago, fearing interrogation enhanced by use of a blowtorch, native Iranian experts were the only source of help. Now local computer experts are being killed. This is not good for moral.
The nuclear reactor in Iran has been nearly loaded with fuel rods, but has not been turned on yet. If the Windows Stuxnet worm surreptitiously turns off the cooling system while hiding serious overheating, the reactor will meltdown and make the Russian nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl seem like a minor problem. Stuxnet hides so well in computer code it is hard to find and remove and it continues to modify its self and adapt. Turning on the reactor is certainly a gamble as they really don't know what is going to happen. Stay tuned for further updates.
That's Greg's bite for today.
(Greg Mills, is 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, www.CottageIndustrySolar.com using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's art web site at www.gregmills.info ; his email is firstname.lastname@example.org )