After what seems like an eternity, Microsoft has released the updated version of their Mobile OS. Version 7 (WP7) is much improved over the Windows Mobile 6.5 and its aiming to take away market share from Android and iPhone. The question is now, if it is too late for Microsoft to have entered this market? Will developers embrace the platform? And if the market for Mobile platforms is too crowded as it is with Nokia, Blackberry, Palm, Apple and Google already fighting for market share as it is.
At launch time, there will be seven handsets available with WP7 on ATT, T-Mobile and Sprint. Dell, HTC, LG and Samsung are the developers of these handsets and should provide some great smart phones, considering all their expertise with Android phones by now.
Apps – At this time Microsoft is not saying how many apps will be available on Zune Market at launch of WP7. However they have hinted there will be more apps than when iPad launched. At launch of iPad, there were 350 apps available. While this number is not great considering the number of apps available for the iPhone and Android it is a good start.
Market share – Microsoft is clearly going after Android and iPhone for their market share. However, due to late start, they are not going to have a great momentum with those customers. But, they can go after the business market rather quickly. Microsoft has a great entry in the enterprise market, with their exchange secure connection, MS Outlook syncing, and MS Office syncing ability they can easily take market share away from Blackberry. Blackberry’s app market has not really taken off and not many developers are creating unique apps for them, this is an area Microsoft can exploit with enterprise friendly products and apps.
This should be Microsoft’s first plan, using their X-Box games and experience they can port games over to the WP7 platform and instantly get followers of those games as fans on their new system.
Zune Market place – Looking at successful handset systems, we should look at their market place as an essential tool for success of apps. iTunes provides a very nice and clean system for finding new apps and displaying them. Android on the other hand has a poorly designed app store that is hard to navigate. Few Android Apps are now appearing because of the frustration with Google and their lack of design sense. Zune market place has a nice platform and is easy on the eye; this is a great benefit for the WP7 phones.
In the end, it will be a very uphill battle for Microsoft to gain market share with their smart phone, but it was necessary for them to get into this market. Now, time will tell if developers will embrace yet another platform.