Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’
As 2009 comes to close, everyone is playing the predictions game, including me. So, here are my predictions for the new year.
1. 2010 is going to be the year that Android comes into its own. There is a lot of device movement behind it and we shall see a true iPhone challenger coming from the Android camp. Every major device manufacturer that is part of the Open Handset Alliance is going to come out with dozens of Android handsets. Also, we will see Android being deployed on devices other than Smartphones. Though it remains to be seen how Google positions Android versus its Chrome OS.
2. Android Marketplace is going to be next big goldrush for the app developers. The legions of Java developers are salivating at and furiously developing apps for the Android marketplace. Given Google’s free-for-all approach to the marketplace, I think that apps for Android are going to explode in 2010 and probably surpass the iPhone app store by 2011 unless Apple makes a drastic change to its App approval policy.
3. 2010 will see the introduction of data bandwidth caps and tiered pricing. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, AT&T is already making noise about how 3% of its data users are hogging 40% of the bandwidth. I believe that AT&T is getting ready to introduce data bandwidth caps and tiered pricing as early as Q1 of 2010.
4. Microsoft will make a major push to regain marketshare in 2010. Microsoft is at crossroads here, should it pursue a closed-wall approach like Apple or should it follow Google’s path. This is a long-shot prediction but I think Microsoft might end up acquiring a major player to disrupt the iPhone and Android hegemony. Though RIM, Palm and to a small degree, Motorola are likely targets, but I would not be surprised if Nokia and Microsoft partner up to develop or extend Windows Mobile.
So, there you go. These are my predictions. Stop by and let me know what you think or what your predictions are.
With the economy slowly on the mend and the industry struggling with bandwidth, there is a merger mania going on in the mobile industry. Orange & T-Mobile over in UK have kicked things off and Sprint-Nextel followed it by acquiring the Virgin Mobile MVNO that operates on Sprint’s network. In addition, Bharti Airtell merger with MTN was stopped by Indian Government. There are more rumors which are making the investment bankers salivate. So what are they pushing?
First up is the perrenial favorite, Microsoft & RIM merger. Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, thinks that Microsoft should buy RIM even though it might be expensive. On paper, this match is made in heaven with Microsoft’s strong engineering, deep pockets and large, loyal commercial customer base and RIM’s strength in enterprise email and hardware. This has been talked about for two years or more now but Microsoft has indicated that they are not interested. It remains to be seen how long it takes the talking heads and the investment types to convince MS otherwise.
This next one is intriguing and if it comes to fruition, this could shake the worldwide mobile industry up and at the same time give some joy to its competitors. There are rumors coming out of UK over the weekend that Vodafone might be considering merging with Verizon Communication so that it can get some benefits from its investment in their joint venture Verizon Wireless. Now, if this were to happen, it could be big news as two of the most popular wireless brands would merge and can become truly a worldwide behemoth. However, there are dangers in this for both companies as the integration could take their focus away from growing and fighting off the competition. From timing perspective, this might be a now or never moment. Given that the industry is slowing and worldwide economy is not expected to expand until after Q3 of 2010, it might be tempting to roll the dice. However, there are significant hurdles to this deal as regulators in Europe, Asia and US will have to approve the deal which alone could take up well over a year. In the meantime, the two companies must keeping moving forward. Vodafone needs to continue to focus on growth in Western Europe and India while Verizon needs to build out its LTE network and not give up ground to AT&T. If the two companies can pull this off with any form of succcess, it would be a significant coup and feather in the cap of the leadership team. But, all this is conjecture until the deal is announced.
Finally, this deal seems to be equally long-shot. Deutche Telecom, is considering acquiring Sprint-Nextel and merging it with its T-Mobile Unit. While regulators should not have hard time approving it, the merger process would be insane with Sprint still trying to clean up after its Nextel acquisition. In addition, Sprint needs to decide what to do with its Clearwire investment.
In the beginning there was the PalmOS mobile platform, and then there was Symbian, then Windows Mobile and RIM’s Blackberry OS. Then came the juggernaut iPhone OS from Apple. That was followed by Android from Google. Soon Palm will launch another mobile platform called the WebOS. All these different platforms lead to a question: How many mobile platforms can your company support?
That is just the operating systems. Already the mobile industry is fragmented with dozens of smartphone manufacturers. Add in the different features of the handsets themselves, like accelerometer, GPS, camera, etc, and you have a whole matrix of feature sets that need to be accounted for.
It is amazing how often entrepreneurs and product managers at smaller companies have said to me that this is their strategy. Then I ask them how soon they will be on all these platforms and I get a vague answer of as soon as we can. Given this situation, how long can companies justify developing products for all platforms?
Companies really need to evaluate their strategy against their resources. Building and supporting products on multiple platforms is costly and labor intensive process, just ask all those who build and support PC and Mac products. The complexity increases multiple-fold in the smartphone space. As an entrepreneur or product manager, you don’t have the time to wait until the product has been tested on all the platforms. You need to be out in the market before your competition.
Considering the limited funding and resources, you have to decide on one or two “hero” platforms as Tim Westergren, founder of the popular Pandora music service calls them. He has decided that iPhone is the “hero” platform they will focus on and when WebOS from Palm is available, that will be its second “hero” platform.
There are definite benefits in this strategy: You can develop a product that leverages the various features of that platform. You are able to conserve your resources by developing on few platforms. You can become the “best-in-class” on the specific platforms.
On the flip side, though, you have to weigh how successful are your target platforms going to be. iPhone has done phenomenally well and therefore could be a no-brainer for a lot of us. However, if you were targeting say Android or even the much-anticipated WebOS from Palm, you just have to look back at all those folks who jumped on the PalmOS bandwagon and decide if the rewards outweigh the risk and what is the likelihood of the platform surviving a few years.
Once you have decided on the platforms, like all good strategists, keep evaluating them and your strategy. Tim Westergren did not embark on his strategy right from the get-go. In fact, for two years Pandora was available on AT&T and Verizon Wireless’ application stores where it languished. Only when iPhone came along and Tim decided to launch his product on that platform did he found success.
At a recent Wharton Business School conference, Steven Alop of Microsoft unveiled a video of what Microsoft sees the future to be in 2019. It is really interesting with touch screens everywhere and Surface-like capabilities to synch two devices instantaniously using just swipes.
I am very excited about the electronic boarding pass that tells you accurate status and gate changes. Let’s see which of these become true.
[via Boy Genius Report]
Mobile World Congress Day 1 recap: Nokia Ovi Store, LG GD900, Arena, Windows Mobile 6.5, Samsung OmniaHD
Here is a recap of the top news story on this the first day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona:
Nokia announced 4 new phones and the Ovi App store which will be available in March for publishers to upload content and on the N97 when it comes out in June. There are two new E-series devices: Nokia E75 and Nokia E55 with revamped email interface. The Navigator series got two more devices too: Nokia 6710 Navigator, and the Nokia 6720 classic. As the name suggest the 6710 Navigator is GPS centric device while the 6720 classic has advanced noice cancellation and form factor designed to fit around the face. Nokia, in an unusual move, announced its N86 phone far from the action in Singapore. This 8Mpxl camera phone is an update to the to-be-launched N97 with similar form factor and dual-sliders.
LG and Microsoft announced a partnership wherein LG will launch 50 new Windows Mobile based phones by 2012. I am sure a lot of these phones will see the S-Class treatment which we saw in LG Arena (also announced today with March availability in Europe). LG also announced the GD900 which has a transparent keypad slider with a very thin, 13.4″ thick casing, and have 7.2 Mbps HSDPA.
Speaking of Microsoft, it also announced the availability of Windows Mobile 6.5 with its honeycomb home screen; MyPhone, its cloud-based backup solution; Recite, the voice memo organization tool; and its own marketplace called Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which will be available on all phones running WinMo 6.5 and above.
Finally, Samsung had the best news of all: the new OmniaHD (review here), its Symbian S60 OS-based,12.7mm thin beauty with a huge 3.7″ glass AMOLED touchscreen display, an 8 Mpxl camera that shoots 720p video, HD video out, video calling, Wi-Fi, GPS and 8 to 16GB internal storage plus microSDHC support with aluminum body. It also announced the BeatDJ (see video review) with Bang & Olufson audio, 3 megapixel camera, DivX support, a 2.8″ AMOLED touchscreen and DJ features which allows the user to record tracks, scratch and add effects.
Rumors have it that Microsoft might be planning to enter the smartphone market with its own device in later half of 2009. If these rumors are correct, then it goes against what Steve Ballmer and others have always said about Microsoft wanting to license the software. However, with its Danger subsidiary and success with XBox and Zune, Microsoft would be tempted to take on Apple and others in the smartphone arena. If it does, I think they need to look at the new Toshiba TG01 and go with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset instead of the NVIDIA’s Tegra chipset. Also, they need to learn from HTC, Samsung and Sony Ericsson to wrap their clunky Windows Mobile in a more user-friendly and up-to-date user interface. I am not holding my breath, but lets see what comes out Redmond.
After a month long hiatus and attending CES, I am back. Here is a quick round-up of the mobile related news from CES. First off, this year the CES was decidedly low key. The focus was more on personalization and content. Hence there were not many ground-breaking devices unvieled at the show. Rather, there were numerous services and new content being presented. Also, from an overall show perspective, there were a lot of thin LED and Plasma TVs from numerous vendors including Samsung, Panasonic and Sony. Of these, the Sony OLED and the thin LEDs from Panasonic were truly jaw-dropping. One thing that was not jaw-dropping were the numerous bad acts that the exhibitors had to entertain the audience in the expo center with Casio having perhaps the worst act, a single dude who could barely play the piano, let alone sing.
Coming back to the mobile scene, Sony unveiled several devices including camcorders, TVs and a couple of new phones as part of its joint venture with Ericsson on the opening day of the show. SE unveiled a Walkman and two Cybershot branded phones, the W508, C510 & C905 respectively. The W508 is a flip phone and the C510 is a candybar with a slider for the camera lens and flash. Both these phones are middle of the line products focusing on their respective strengths, namely the music aspects for Walkman which includes FM radio, SensMe, TrackID, Shake/Gesture control and PlayNow, while the C510 focuses on picture taking with features like 3.2 Mpxl camera (incidently, the W508 also has the same camera), Shutter Smile, Face Detection, Photo Fix, and autofocus. Both phones have the quad-band EGDE/GRPS and tri-band HSPDA for worldwide roaming. These phones because of the HSPDA capabilities will likely be launched on the AT&T network with the C510 slated for release in Q1 and W508 in Q2.
The C905 is a 8.1Mpxl camera-phone with quad-band GSM, HSPDA, and WiFi capabilities. The camera has autofocus, geotagging, smile detection, face detection, a self timer, and a digital zoom capabilities. The unlocked phone is expected to be released in Q2 in USA and is currently available in Europe for €499.
Perhaps, the biggest announcement from mobile phones perspective was the Palm Pre announcement alongwith its new OS the WebOS and its Touchstone charging center for the Pre. The Pre is Palm’s curvy, touchscreen competitor to Apple iPhone. It has a full QWERTY keyboard that slides out underneath and runs on the EV-DO Rev A and will be launched in first half of 2009 exclusively on Sprint. The touchscreen is a 3.1-inch 320 x 480 multitouch display with a single silver button at the bottom and lower half of the screen capable of interpreting gestures. It also has a 3.2Mpxl camera, 802.11b/g WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth with A2DP and 8GB of built-in flash storage. Palm also launched a cool looking wireless charger for the Pre called the Touchstone. This hockey-puck shaped and sized charger holds on to the Pre magnetically in whatever position it is put on.
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft announced that its partners had sold 20 million Windows Mobile based devices in 2008. Also, Microsoft and Verizon Wireless announced an important deal where in Microsoft Live Search will be the default search engine on all VZW phones for the next 5 years. Going forward, Microsoft plans on focusing on fewer than the 140 different devices that currently run Windows Mobile to better compete with other operating systems.
Three phones from LG, namely the Dare, Vu and Invision were awarded the CES Innovation Awards by CNET at the CES 2009. Dare with its 3 inches touchscreen was also awarded the Best of Innovation. The Vu and Invision were awarded for their mobile TV capabilities. The big announcement for LG was the phone watch which is a watch with a large (for a watch) screen which displays incoming phone numbers, 7.2-Mbps HSDPA, voice recognition, Bluetooth, speakerphone, an integrated music player, video calling, and a touchscreen. Users can talk using Bluetooth headset. However, there is no word on how long the battery will last and the LG person in the booth was very evasive about it.
Samsung introduced the Pico projector for mobile phones which can project content from your mobile phone on any surface.
Nokia did have one new device, 1006, which was designed at its San Diego facility and features large, bright color display, voice memo, speakerphone, as well as a phonebook capable of holding 500 entries. The new curved sleek device will be made available in blue and silver. Other than that, it also announced that several of its devices including its vaunted N97, the award-winning E71, the E63 and 7510 will be launched in the North American market during the year.
A while back I had reported on Hutchison Wampoa was entering into the mobile handset business and they were partnering with its 3 network operator in UK to launch it. Well, today, 3 and Inq announced the availability of the first phone which is being targeted at social media users who would like to keep in touch with their network on the go. The phone, called Inq 1 has Facebook, Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Last.fm, all pre-loaded into the phone and easily available from the home screen via a carousel of applications. The technical specifications for this phone are:
You can see a video of the press event for the launch presented by Reuters at this link. The phone will be available for free with £15 per month contract and £79.99 under pay-as-you-go plan.
That’s right browser wars are coming. Only this time, they are coming to a mobile phone near you. So far we have Microsoft Mobile IE, Apple’s Safari, Opera, Google’s Chrome and the Blackberry’s proprietary browser. Add to that mix the recently announced and currently undergoing alpha testing, Fennec, the mobile browser from Mozilla, the maker of Firefox open source browser.
Given all these browsers, there is bound to be a shakeup. However, on the flip side of it is the fact that there are so many mobile platforms, Windows Mobile, Apple iPhone OS, Google’s Android, Symbian and Blackberry OS. So, one could argue that each of these are walled gardens and therefore the browsers work in these walled gardens. However, two of the above-named browsers, Opera and Fennec are not tied to any specific platform, though they may not work on all platforms yet. Not to mention, all the big players, except maybe RIM, have the resources to quickly make their browsers platform independent. So, while I don’t expect the browser wars to start right away, I fully expect them in maybe late 2009, early 2010.
According to a report published by Canalys, a market research company, Apple and RIM are winning market share in the smartphone category from Nokia. By Q3 2008, 40 million smartphones were sold worldwide. This represents a 28% growth YoY compared to 3% growth for the larger mobile phone market.
Nokia lost significant ground YoY in Q3 down from 51.4% in 2007 to 38.9% in 2008. Nokia uses the Symbian platform which as a result also lost significant ground. Here are the top 4 smartphone platforms and their market share:
- Symbian 46.6% down from 68.1% in Q3 2007
- Apple 17.3%
- RIM 15.2%
- Microsoft 13.6%
Since the bottom three vendors are so close, there is going to be continued fight for the second spot. It is likely that RIM might overtake Apple in Q4 with its upcoming release of Blackberry Storm and also the recent release of Blackberry Bold.