Earlier this morning, I got a chance to catch up with Dr. Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola, soon after his company reported earnings (they met Wall Street’s modest expectations) to talk about everything from the state of the mobile market to prospects for Motorola. I will […]

Earlier this morning, I got a chance to catch up with Dr. Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola, soon after his company reported earnings (they met Wall Street’s modest expectations) to talk about everything from the state of the mobile market to prospects for Motorola. I will write all that up in a longer post, but there was one part of the conversation that stuck with me as it was very telling about the momentum around Google’s Android and the detrimental impact it’s having on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile.

As part of our conversation, Dr. Jha stressed that handset makers need to pick a single smartphone OS and devote resources to it in order to win. He pointed to Nokia and Symbian, Apple and its iPhone OS and RIM’s BlackBerry OS. He used that logic to justify why his company was betting the farm on Google’s Android. Why? Because it’s the best option for the company right now.

“I didn’t have any other compelling option,” he said. “The other OS got pushed.” I asked him if he was talking about Microsoft’s Windows Mobile or the LiMo operating systems, but Dr. Jha proved to be too polite to name names and reveal more details. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5 had been scheduled to make it out of the chutes by May, but won’t hit the market till October.

From what we’ve heard, there aren’t any Windows Mobile-based devices in Motorola’s line-up for 2010, so it’s reasonable to say that Windows Mobile has lost favor at Motorola. Back in February, The Wall Street Journal reported that Motorola was going to cut its ties with Windows Mobile. At the time, the handset maker denied any such moves. A month earlier, however, I hinted at Motorola backing away from Microsoft-based handsets.

Like upstart HTC, a long-time Windows Mobile loyalist, Motorola is focusing its development resources behind Google’s Android OS. Both HTC and Motorola are developing their own user interfaces for Android, which indicates their seriousness about Google’s mobile platform. I wonder if this is going to be a trend that’s going to spread. From what I’ve heard, everyone from Lenovo and Huawei to Dell to Samsung are betting on Android. These companies would have been partners of Microsoft in the past.

I feel Microsoft wasted away many years while it held the top position in the mobile handset business. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently told analysts that, “It was a tough year on succeeding with phones, mostly our own issues, frankly.”  (via The Washington Post). Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices business, was more candid, and admitted to problems with Microsoft’s mobile strategy in a meeting with financial analysts and investors. Bach reported that Microsoft’s share of the mobile phone operating system market had declined despite the fact that volumes were up a tad. Microsoft claimed that 20 million Window Mobile phones were sold in 2008.

“To date, we haven’t done as good a job as I would like building relationships and getting the right integration with our hardware partners…You’re going to see dramatic improvement in integration.”

“It is our view that one model, one phone is not going to build volume,” he said. “People are going to want different configurations on their phones. We need to work very closely with Samsung, Sony Ericsson and others to build a broad selection of phones that provide a choice of different pricepoints and different capabilities.”

Funny there wasn’t any mention of Motorola! I wonder if it will be too late for the company to make a comeback, similar to Zune struggling to play catch-up with the iPod. So while there is a lot of focus on Apple vs. Google, the real battle is actually between Microsoft Windows Mobile and Google Android. It looks like Google has drawn its first blood.

(Dr. Jha will deliver a keynote speech and discuss Motorola’s bet on Mobile Internet in our mobile Internet-focused conference, Mobilize 09, that will be held in San Francisco on Sept. 10.)

  1. android success depends on success of andriod market place ………..aka apps on android platform …since standard j2me apps dont work android nor native x11 apps ………..every app has to replicated on android platform …question is will there be any killer apps on android platform besides those from google

    1. yes, the killer apps besides those from google decide the future market of Android.

    2. Nope,
      Andriod success depends on the success of the PLATFORM as a foundation not the appS.
      If the platform is solid, the apps will come along (sure they have a billion fart apps :-) ) .
      But the foundation ( read SDK , packaging , installing and security among other things) should be excellent.
      iPhone OS and WebOS seem to have a solid foundation with Andriod following behind.

    3. jagdterrier Friday, July 31, 2009

      It’s still all projected success/wins.Aren’t they still as of now a fart in the wind in terms of sales and partners compared to WinMo.

      1. Nope , it was not a fart in the wind, its more like fart inside a closed room.

        WinMo , was history.
        lately WinMo hasn’t attracted any cool developers?
        EA, PANDORA , GAMELOFT ….. the list goes on.
        These folks want to jump on iPhone OS or Andriod or PALM WebOS.

        Forget the APPS , why on earth Microsoft cannot make a decent Mobile browser ?

        They had a decent browser all the way back in 2000 , this is 2009 , where does the IE stand ?

  2. @Om,

    Given our experience developing WinMo applications, I’d say Microsoft has done more to limit developer and consumer adoption during mass market acceptance of smartphones. This is not to say that Google hasn’t done a great job with android, they’ve done a phenomenal job to clear. Microsoft, on the other hand, didn’t move agressively to improve the development environment of WinMo, nor did they make any real improvements in usability on handsets embedded with WinMo. End result, WinMo isn’t much different today than it was some 2 to 3 years ago, and the overall user experience with 3rd party software applications is awful at best.

  3. I dont like to point out, but there is a small mistake i feel in editing ‘playsanjay’

    as for WM – i say RIP, the old Palm OS on the Treo 650 was enough for me to ditch WM

  4. the >30% leader in the mobile space is going to be a company who can play in both consumer and enterprise markets.
    The success of android will depend on its ability to compete with apple in the consumer space, but also on google ability to make google apps a success.

    Today the Enterprise use case for Android is – Forward your corporate email to gmail /apps accounts . Seems to work but not very tight

    1. Actually, the enterprise use case with Android has changed quite a bit. Right now, many Android devices (including t-mobile’s mytouch, which is a very nice device) are shipping with native exchange support as well as with Google apps support, a big step forward. Touchdown, a third party exhange app is – hands down – the best mobile exchange email/calendaring solution I’ve ever used on any device. It’s simply fantastic.

      Speaking as someone who’s done development on WinMo and Android, there’s lilttle comparison. Android is a much better development environment and a smipler deployment environment, both of which should worry Microsoft mightily.

      And, as an end user, after suffering though WinMo release after WinMo release up to the current one, I never used one which just -worked- as well as Android did out of the box, and Android has improved a lot since it first came out, and this is what should really give Microsoft the shakes. WinMo never worked as well as the first release of Android.

      Finally there is the small matter that base Android, without the Google apps, is free. With some small amount of licensing work, you could put together a completely exchange-only Android solution at an absolutely minimal per device cost. Or you could skip exchange and just do it.

  5. @Curtis, I agree except that I don’t think WinMo has changed that much since I first started using it in 2003.

  6. [...] new essay at GigaOm opines or at least puts forth the possibility that ” Google’s Android [is] Killing Windows [...]

  7. “Both HTC and Motorola are developing their own user interfaces for Android”

    Do these custom UIs cause havoc with 3rd party Apps? Wouldn’t it be hard to make an app feel native to the platform if every Android phone has its own UI style?

  8. Jacob Varghese Friday, July 31, 2009

    To Niraj’s point, Apple’s is working hard to be the corporate and consumer choice. so far my iphone handles Exchange email and calendar events much better than my nokia e71 ever did.

    I think the market will be dominated by Android, iPhone and Blackberry.

    But Blackberry needs to innovate, in my office, everyone is trading in there Berrys for iPhones.


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