Windows Phone 7: Good, but a little late

Microsoft has unveiled its much awaited mobile operating system Windows Phone 7. The keynote address, the launch and the entourage was just about perfect. It got all the top manufacturers lined up for the launch. Dell, HTC, Samsung and LG have 10 different phones lined up which will be pre-loaded with the Windows Phone 7 operating system. The launch of these phones will be in the next three months.

60 operators across 30 countries are tied up for the Windows Phone 7 launch. In Asia, only Singapore and Australia will see the phones launched. India is conveniently ignored, which is unlike Microsoft because Microsoft kind of likes India.

Windows Phone 7 is a powerful gaming machine integrated tightly with cloud services. The hubs – People, office, music & video and games – see an amazing integration with Microsoft services and third party apps like Facebook, eBay and IMDB. 

A simple voice command on the Bing search engine will bring up a flight search, reservation, booking, confirmation screen and completes the process. A movie search on IMDB will not only provide the movie information but will also give the location of theaters where the movie is currently being played. The games integration with XBOX is amazing. The 3D rendering of the games make it even more fun.

All the applications are neatly organized in tiles which cover up the whole screen, unlike iPhone which leaves space in between icons. When the phone was demonstrated, it almost felt like the future is here. The only problem with the future is, it is a little late to the party.

Mobile operating system market is completely dominated by three players – iPhone OS, RIM Blackberry OS and the open-source darling Android. As per Nielsen’s recent study, Android is the most popular mobile operating system. Microsoft might be introducing 10 phones but there more phones running the Android operating system, not to mention the tablet PCs.

Android has scored on the recent acquirers with a 32 percent acquisition when compared to 25percent for iPhone OS and 26 percent for RIM Blackberry OS :


The overall market share of Android is 19 percent, Apple iPhone OS 28 percent  and RIM Blackberry OS 31 percent.



To be sure that we are comparing apples with apples (the real ones), let me clear few things up. Apple and RIM sell their phones as well as the operating systems. Android is software from Google which anyone can use to run on their device. There are only three devices which carry iPhone OS, around 30 devices which carry RIM Blackberry OS and close to 100 devices which carry Android devices. Technically, Android has a leg up over the other two OSs because of its open nature. Does that mean it should not be part of the comparison? Absolutely not. We are comparing the operating systems that run on the mobiles. And Windows Phone 7 will be on the same ground as Android is because of its independent nature and there is no phone from Microsoft to go with the operating system.

Where would Windows 7 as an OS fit?

With iPhone OS not going anytime soon, Blackberry OS getting a fresh lease of life after its PlayBook launch and Android being Android, there is little room for Windows 7. It would have been well received eight months ago. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since and most of it is of Android. It is tough to compete with Android.

In addition to the tough competition, Windows 7 has its own shortcomings. It needs expensive hardware, doesn’t multi-task,  has no video conferencing, can’t copy and paste and it is from Microsoft – so expect multiple software updates.

All the 10 phones launched have expensive hardware requirements, which means Windows 7 adoption for less powerful mobile devices is not possible which directly means it can’t be as popular as Android. Apple’s iPhone was ridiculed for two things: lack of multi-tasking and no video conferencing capabilities. Apple took the feedback and including multi-tasking and video conferencing (with a front and rear facing camera) in its iPhone 4. Why would Microsoft repeat the same mistake? Not having copy paste is like not having ham in a hamburger. Might be a bad analogy but you get the point. Microsoft will include the copy paste  feature in 2011 and people would rather buy it in 2011.

As I have already said, Windows Phone 7 looks like the future which is a little late.