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Summary:

Microsoft has thrived in the enterprise but has consistently failed to understand the needs and wants of consumers. And nowhere is that more evident than in wireless, where Windows Mobile continues to lose market share to consumer-centric operating systems and handsets.

Microsoft’s latest ad campaign focuses heavily on the end user, telling us that Windows 7.0 was “designed with you in mind.” But the company continues to lose the fight for consumers, and nowhere is that more evident than in its mobile business.

Windows Mobile has lost nearly a third of its market share over the last year, according to the most recent data from research firm Gartner, as more consumer-focused manufacturers such as Apple and Research In Motion continue to gain momentum in the white-hot smartphone space. WinMo users’ traffic on the wireless web has dropped off even more dramatically during that period, falling 70 percent, according to the latest figures from AdMob — a clear indication that the few consumers who have Windows Mobile aren’t doing much on their phones other than talking and messaging.

Version 6.5 of the mobile OS received scathing reviews following its October launch, with many alleging that the update was nothing more than a stopgap as Microsoft works on a complete overhaul. Inexplicably, though, version 7.0 isn’t likely to debut until the fourth quarter of 2010, giving its competitors ample time to build on their leads. Meanwhile, Android has picked up substantial steam recently and is sure to grow its market share as more handsets come to market through carriers around the world.

As the runaway success of the iPhone indicates, the smartphone space today is all about the consumer — not the enterprise. End users are increasingly buying their own handsets and forcing IT departments to support the gadgets. And that’s very bad news for Microsoft, which has consistently failed to grasp the needs and wants of consumers — especially when it comes to phones.

  1. I used to have a Samsung Flapjack with Windows Mobile on it and it was some of the worst software I’ve ever used, possibly including the software on my microwave.

    When I got my iPhone it was like I went from the dark ages into the future. Although, now I do admit to quite a bit of Android envy :)

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  2. Agree completely.
    Still they have a faint chance.If they can leapfrog everyone in software they might have a chance to redeem. HTC can help them put together solid hardware.

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  3. I used a WinMo PDA for years, and going to it after being a PALM user for almost a decade was a tough decision. What made me switch from the Palm to WinMo is ultimately the same thing that made me go with a DROID just last month: Microsoft failed to keep up with changes, and try as I might to hold out for a device that would take care of all my needs, they just never delivered one.

    Now I’m gone, and they OWNED me.

    And that’s happening more and more. Office? Nah; GoogleDocs. Windows? So far, but I skipped Vista and so haven’t yet bitten on 7. Microsoft is a company seriously in need of a business overhaul.

    I consult to much smaller companies, and am certain Mr. Ballmer has no interest in my advice (hmm . . . part of the problem . . .), but it would be this: start thinking like the company that Bill Gates founded.

    <

    p>Jeff Yablon
    President & CEO

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  4. [...] versions of Windows Mobile. “Microsoft + Mobile Consumers = FAIL” is the headline of this new post. Microsoft’s latest ad campaign focuses heavily on the end user, telling us that Windows 7.0 was [...]

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  5. [...] winnowing importance in mobile is well documented, of course. WinMo has lost nearly a third of its market share over the last year, according to [...]

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  6. @Jeff Yablon: Thank you, sir, for stating the real problem both clearly and concisely. I make a good chunk of my living moving SMEs from dependency on Windows and Office to a more heterogenous/better-managed environment. Until about 2 or 3 years ago, it was like pulling hen’s teeth to even get a foot in the door. Now I’m getting almost a call a day from companies saying “We hear you can help us…” — and Singapore is at least as Microsoft-centric a town as oh, say, Seattle.

    Look at the stock prices over the last ten years; Microsoft is in trouble AND in denial. If this goes on, they’ll be in the pink sheets as well.

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  7. [...] enlisted the help of industry heavyweights such as Qualcomm and AT&T to help it regain its lost relevance in the ultra-competitive smartphone [...]

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  8. [...] business functionality with the consumer-friendly features and simplicity that Windows Mobile sorely lacked. Apple and Google are strengthening their offerings for corporate use, but neither OS has caught [...]

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