Monday, October 11, 2010

Microsoft CEO Ballmer unveils final version of Windows Phone 7, but already it appears company jumped the gun

This is not how you want to roll out a new product. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today chose Columbus Day, presumably a slow news day, to introduce its new Windows Phone 7 operating system. But the tech giant chose to show its new OS displaying the logo of a company that is not currently onboard.
According to developer of the very popular mobile game Angry Birds, Rovio Mobile, the company is not yet committed to developing their game for the new OS. "We have NOT committed to doing a Windows Phone 7 version. Microsoft put the Angry Birds icon on their site without our permission<" the company tweeted. Later they added that they are not angry at Microsoft, but simply wanted to set the record straight.

While most of the tech press naturally is focusing on the horse race angle -- wondering if Microsoft can compete with Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms -- the real story for publishers is apps, and whether it will be worth investing in this segment of the market. That is why the news from app developers becomes important.

Getting an honest assessment of Microsoft's chances at success is hard due to the "fanboy" nature of modern tech writing on the subject, and the equally partisan comments that inevitably follow. But one line of thinking that seems to have merit to me is that the Microsoft's best chance at success may lie less in smartphones but more in tablets, where mobile operating systems are also used. Microsoft Windows is the default OS on netbooks -- a segment that is feeling the strain of competing against the iPad -- and a move to Windows Phone 7 could allow hardware makers to shift gears and begin to build low priced tablet alternatives. Right now, that alternative is thought to be Android-based tablets. Microsoft may want in on the mobile phone market, but they equally will want to maintain their share of the netbook (merging into tablets) market, as well.