Mobile: Will Windows 8 have what is takes?

by mcampbell on May 9, 2012

Windows has had a disappointing (for Microsoft, at least) impact on the mobile market. Windows Phone 7 is (ahem) not a top player, and their early tablet offerings were largely a flop. Their only strong point seems to be their market presence in rugged industrial and embedded devices; however, Microsoft’s commitment to their customer base has been inconsistent and Android has started eating their lunch. Windows 8, due later this year, will be Microsoft’s attempt to reintroduce itself to the mobile marketplace. It faces stiff challenges.

Because of the false starts, Microsoft is a very late entry to the mobile market (for tablets, at least). Consider the once mighty Research In Motion (the makers of BlackBerry), who also came late to the tablet market. Despite the innovative technology in the Playbook and their new line of smartphones, problems ubiquitous to early releases and a lack of app ecology have reduced them to the sidelines with a busted knee. There have been speculations that the company won’t even last the year.

The competition is brutal, and Microsoft lacks an edge. Apple, Google, and Amazon have excellent platforms, strong internet commerce, and great content offerings, which includes an abundance of quality apps. It will be very difficult for Microsoft to be able to produce a superior offering on any one of these points, virtually impossible to exceed in them all.

Market focus is centered on iOS vs. Android (and its variants), making Microsoft an outsider. It is very difficult to steal attention away from two champions locked in a slug fest. Brand loyalty, for one or the other, is being established among consumers, developers, and technophiles.

That being said, Microsoft can never be discounted. Microsoft is resource rich: money, developers, marketers, salespeople, partners, and, let’s not forget, lawyers (so useful for patent infringements). Windows is also familiar, so a Windows interface may be attractive to some users, particularly new mobile customers. Certainly there will be a lineup of hardware manufacturers willing to release with the new OS (such as Samsung, ASUS, HTC). The question is whether they truly believe in it, or are just hedging their bets. They promise the former, but if it’s the later, expect half-hearted offerings with limited or no variants. Just what Microsoft doesn’t need …

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