Posted by Greg Mills
Microsoft slept at the switch for so long, when they finally got into the smartphone operating system business many anayists speculated it was just too late. That may well be true, despite Microsoft throwing money hand over fist at the development of Windows Mobile 7. Things have not gone well lately for Windows 7.
Desperation and plenty of money flowing from the Windows PC operating system has resulted in very questionable decisions by Microsoft management. One of the most interesting was the deal Microsoft made with Nokia. Instead of selling rights to Mobile 7 to a desperate handset company, that had just given up on their own mobile OS, Ballmer, sensing blood in the water, gave Nokia 1 Billion dollars US to bribe them to not go with Android. Android would have made more sense, but heck, 1 Billion dollars cash and the promise of further development of the Microsoft Mobile OS was an offer Nokia couldn't resist.
That deal, was of course, made before the ramifications of the Apple patent lawsuits against all the Android handset makers had hit the fan, with HTC being only the first to face the music. Should Apple succeed in blocking major feature elements of the Android Mobile OS with patent infringement suits, Nokia and Microsoft might come out smelling like a rose. Major revisions of the Android OS to avoid Apple patents, changing it into something no one wants, might stop the Google run away smartphone OS in its tracks.
Should the Android OS be gutted, handset makers would have to find an alternative operating system for their phones. Ballmer would be smiling and offering money for them to go with Mobile 7? HP's Palm OS and WIndows 7 might be the only viable alternative to Apple's iOS, which no one expects Apple to ever license. Certainly, the mobile OS that would capture the bulk of the Android market share would be Apple. Recent research shows that Android users are not loyal to their platform and most of them are considering going with an iPhone the next time around. RIM has also floundered and recent smartphones they are releasing are being panned as too little, too late.
Recent reseach indicates that the market share of Mobile 7 handsets is in a serious decline lately. This article tells the story Microsoft has not told as they don't release numbers they find embarassing. http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/193374/20110805/windows-phone-market-sha...
The ramifications of the situation in the smartphone market are, that at the exact time Android platform may be set to decline due to Apple's legal assault, Windows 7 has dropped off to half its market share in the last quater and Apple is getting ready to launch iPhone 5 and iOS 5. A lot of people are holding off on buying a new phone, expecting the new iPhone within a month or so. I expect the market share situation to reverse in the short term and for Apple to capture the lead in the smartphone market. Where the smartphone market goes, the touch screen tablet market is sure to follow.
What this also means, is that developers who are dividing their time between various mobile operating systems will go where the money is. The Android platform already has serious problems with app piracy and developers not getting paid much for their apps. The Android OS getting gutted of major features by Apple's patent suites and the Android handset makers being forced to take their products off the market, will change the calculous in the smartphone market decisively in Apple's favor.
By the time very time Nokia begins to launch Mobile Windows 7 phones, which don't have much of an app market anyway, the Apple steam roller will be gathering speed. With Microsoft making as much as three times as much money on Android patent licensing fees as they do on their own Mobile 7, developers are going to be scratching their heads. The Apple iOS platform is looking better all the time. That is Greg's Bite, anyhow.