Thursday, 23 February 2017

To Recover Its Position In Mobile, Microsoft Needs To Do The Fosbury Flop


Yesterday news broke that Panasonic was releasing a new Windows 10 Mobile phone. That's interesting only because the generally accepted position is that Windows Mobile is a dead platform and if / when Microsoft releases the Surface Phone it will be running a version of Windows 10.

Windows Mobile sales have all but disappeared and with it any reason for developers to continue to support the platform. Other than the Panasonic the only other reasonably up to date phones are other niche devices from Alcatel and HP.

Microsoft's defeat in mobile has been comprehensive and expensive. Yet it cannot afford to lie bloodied on the battlefield. Mobile is where the world is at today. A lack of a mobile platform puts Microsoft's future in the hands of Apple and Google.

That represents a significant long-term risk.

So Microsoft needs to get back into the mobile game and it can't do it by incrementally improving what it has done before, nor by refining what is already available from others.

It needs a new paradigm, one that changes the game to such an extent that it inverts the market. Microsoft needs to reset the parameters on the smartphone game in the same way that Dick Fosbury changed high jumping with his revision of high-jump technique - what became known as the Fosbury Flop.

Where that comes from I don't know. I'm pretty sure that the Surface Phone won't be it (although it has every chance of being a rather different kind of flop) and I don't believe that Hololens is it either.

This is based on the idea of Microsoft wanting to be part of a mobile first future, even if its actions over the last eighteen months don't strongly back that up. If it doesn't then what is in store for the company is very much in question. A question that won't be answered by big money purchases of services that don't make any money.

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