Before reading: do not think I am biased on this. I owned two Windows Mobile devices and the reason for the 2nd one was because I loved the first. I respect Mac’s for the media and arts and PCs for the general user. The purpose of this post is to identify Microsoft’s future in mobile devices subjectively through facts.
Microsoft, up until a few years ago, developed some pretty innovative mobile devices that enabled a lot of businesses to expand with the Windows Mobile (WM) OS. As it is still widely used today in retail, logistics, and service industries, it has struggled with keeping its market share on the consumer market.
The WM platform has hit a few major road blocks that I will try to explain and predict Microsoft’s future with mobile devices. First off, the introduction of Android. This has been a detrimental part in Microsoft’s market because in many cases, Android appeals to a wide variety of demographics. According to The Nielsen Company, a major research firm, not only did Android surpass WM in market share, but they have lost touch with the younger demographics. Additionally, they are 4th in market share compared to Blackberry, Android and Apple.
It does not help either that they had a major product failure with the Windows Kin phones that were exclusive to Verizon Wireless. They were going to launch into Europe but cancelled due to the lack of product adoption. However, I do have to hand it to them by bringing an innovative phone that syncs everything on cloud but the product just wasn’t marketed enough nor liked by the market. Wired.com gives their opinion in four reasons why the Kin failed and two are worth noting:
- Expensive for what you are getting
- No games – No apps
Being a built for social networking, it is nearly essentially to have games/apps. Overall feel it was a impulse attempt to hold the younger markets. They just lacked the research or “forgot.”
So now that the Kin is dead and the Windows 7 phones just launching, you really have to wonder: did they know Kin was going to fail and was Windows 7 for mobile devices in research before/during the research of the Kin? They do have a history about this as well. For instance, Vista and Windows 7 for PCs. Right when Vista released, there were already rumours of Windows 7 development.
I want to sum up Microsoft’s control over product releases in a fun analogy:
At first you think your product won’t sell, keep building it any ways and build another better one, just in case.
With the release of the Windows 7 phones, I really do feel Microsoft will struggle. Yes, Windows 7 for mobile devices are new, innovative and somewhat appealing – it does not make them good. However, for many consumers, it just may not appeal to them. Maybe Microsoft is changing their position in the marketplace purposely. Or they just stopped believing in their company.
It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it!
It also does not help that their CEO, Steve Ballmer, dumped almost $2 billion in Microsoft stock, according to Business Week. He does say it was for personal finance in a public statement, but you be the judge: to me, the quote that Business Week took from Ballmer’s statement sounds generic and sugar coated.
The main reason why I think Microsoft will struggle, is they shot themselves in the foot before the release of Windows 7 for mobile devices. They have a declining market share and a bad reputation. Both of which are difficult to fix. Maybe their new release will recover their territory, but they will struggle doing it. That is a fact because after consumers sawhow bad Microsoft did with the Kin, it gave consumers a bad impression. So why should they buy the Windows 7? Microsoft will have to overcome this slump by creating a desirable product. But as stated above. Having an amazing product does not make everything OK again.
Recently, I have been very interested in the subject of sociology and the effects and ethics of the internet, the web and social media. I have been thinking of many theories and writing notes and I have a very brief theory of the future of personal data aggregation.
Let me start off by saying Google does it brilliantly. Providing absolutely* free applications such as Google Docs, Mail, Calendar, Talk, Analytics and many more. With the addition of Android, the open source mobile operating system, they provide additional personality to their brand.
“When you sign up for a Google Account, we ask you for personal information. We may combine the information that you submit under your account with information from other Google services or third parties in order to provide you with a better experience and to improve the quality of our services.”
It makes sense, “to provide you with a better experience and to improve the quality of our services.” We are given a number essentially and tracked. But the free stuff is so appealing! Many business of opted out of purchasing expensive programs such as Microsoft Office and just used Google Apps.
But here is my scenario that I play in my head over and over again:
Open my eyes. Look at the clock which personalized and recommended by a computer. This computer aggregated everything about me to distil a algorithm that can tell you everything about my personality, values, goals, beliefs etc…
I notice it is time to get ready for the day. Roll out of bed and walk to the bathroom to take a shower. Since a computer knows my preferences, it sets it at exactly 104.4 degrees Fahrenheit because 104.2 is too cold and 104.6 is too warm. After I shower, I brush my teeth and use a special mouth rise because I recently was told by my dentist that I have sensitive teeth and I should use Product X. He wrote down notes on a tablet pc about this and it automatically notified a server that I am in the market for Product X .
So at the last time I was at the market, I bought it because my phone noticed I was at the supermarket and notified me that I need to buy Product X for my sensitive teeth.
Proceeding my brushing and mouth rinse. I head for my car that was previously decided based upon my income and my preferences. It was chosen for me to buy because I would prefer to own a car sooner and opt out of buying an over-priced car. So a server went through every car made and found a car that I could pay off in 3 years and gives me the best value for my dollar. I prefer a fast yet practical car. This car was also chosen because I can afford $400 monthly payments and gives me the highest performance and value. $395/month would be less optimized and $405/month is out of my price range.
What happens when possible choices that are developed on our own, are challenged by recommended choices are created with data aggregated by databases? We lose the power to decide our own fate and choosing against the recommended choices simply to make us feel we have power over our lives no longer applies because we are not ‘optimized’ to produce the best life.
To get a better idea of what I am talking about, read this Business Week article published in 2007. The author, Rob Hof, talks a lot about how Google is working to become a working A.I. search engine. He takes my idea and illustrates it quite well and examines other players such as Amazon.
The short version is: I love technology and how it allows us to be more efficient and make better decisions. However, there needs to be a line. It is a massive trade off: completely remove humanity and thinking all together but have the most optimal life made for us.
Once this computer knows everything about me, making choices are pointless because the decision is already made by the computer.
The day before backpacking through Europe and study abroad… a little anxiety but pumped to leave!
Vodpod videos no longer available.
In one week, I will be flying to London for a backpacking trip through a few countries in Europe and attending University of Westminster for four months.
I have finally come to terms with myself and realized, this is my last chance to study abroad, any later and it will be too late nor would I be able to graduate on time. It took about four months to get my financial aid approved through my University at Winona State. The wait ate me up inside but this is an experience I have been dreaming of for a long time, and I am finally throwing myself head first into it.
However, financial aid was not able to carry the full burden of the expense. As a total cost around $20k for a semester in Westminster, backpacking around for a couple weeks, round trip airfare and living expenses, it quickly turned into a guiltful experience. This is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience and I will never-ever get this chance again, so cost became no object, until it became too expensive.
I digress, my parents helped out with about 1/5 of the cost. This is because I was unable to raise enough funds working during the summer despite working 50-70hrs a week. However, one day, I hope to pay it back to my parents.
I am now left with the anxiety of planning the last loose-ends of my trip, establishing residency London, getting a proper phone carrier, suspending my AT&T phone, applying for a visa, proving I will be attending Westminster, staying in my first hostel, catching/missing my first train. But, 50+ pages of Google maps and proof of bookings will ease my excitement. On the side of backpacking around, I will be taking an online class and communicating to organizations I am involved in, but who is to say that my laptop suddenly never turns on or my pay-as-you-go Vodafone never activates; doubtful.
I am 21 and I am embarking on a life-altering adventure, solo. Here begins my life.