Oh please Mr. Ballmer, say it ain’t so. Remember the dark days when Microsoft split its Mobile client into three flavors; first called Pocket PC, PPC Phone and PPC Smartphone and then Windows Mobile Standard, Windows Mobile Professional and Windows Mobile Classic (for some reason at the time, MS marketers missed the obvious fourth flavor, Windows Mobile Increasingly Irrelevant)? It appears that MS may be going for a new version of that market-baffling strategy.
First of all, it appears that Microsoft is admitting that, out of the box, Windows Phone 7 will not be a good fit for the Enterprise, being slavishly consumer focused. Most of us had already guessed this so it is not a major surprise…just disappointing to hear it so blatantly confirmed. However, Redmond is saying they intend to pick up business customers further down the line, but they may be trying to go back to making a sharp distinction between consumer and business users in the upcoming Windows Phone 7 through the use of different hardware models.
According to Silicon.com, this is what Paul Foster, Microsoft Evangelist in the UK, had to say at a recent press briefing…
The device emphasis is clearly a consumer device. [WP7's predecessor] Windows Mobile was a very successful business app, but the world changed with a focus on the consumer viewpoint. So we have rebooted our mobile phone product by delivering – along with Windows Mobile, because it still exists there under our Windows Embedded team – a consumer-focused Windows Phone 7….
WP7 devices will have one of two screen resolutions – either 800 x 480 for large touchscreen devices with the potential for slide-out Qwerty keyboards, or 480 x 320 for ‘BlackBerry’ style handsets that can incorporate a Qwerty on the front of the device. Microsoft expects the majority of WP7 devices to have the larger screen resolution at launch, with smaller resolution handsets coming later, said Foster.
OK, so Windows Mobile still exists as an embedded OS (along with Windows 7 Embedded) which is bad enough. I had hoped Microsoft would have the nerve to put a stake in it once and for all, but OK. Worse, it appears that MS will be funneling businesses to a candy-bar style which one assumes will have different application requirements from the larger screen models being initially released. How many flavors of bad can you detect in this overbaked idea? Supposedly MS had learned from Apple in the creating of Windows Phone 7, but it seemed they missed the fact that a single OS and limited hardware forms is the way to go currently….but NOOOOOOO. Instead we are apparently back to market-numbing variations on what should be a single, laser-focused theme.
The other massive error that Microsoft seems to be working from is that business users will wait around for WP7 to get around to supporting them. Already many former WinMo business users are switching to Android smartphones or the iPhone. When Windows Phone 7 releases as a consumer focused operating system with few provisions for business users, the last WinMo stalwarts who are holding out hope will likely switch over to one of Microsoft’s competitors.
Windows Phone 7 is coming very late to the Consumer market, however it may come TOO late for the Enterprise market. Has Redmond missed this fact?