Microsoft Hardware And Software Reboot For Mobile Has No Credibility
Over the last few days whispering about a reboot of the Windows Mobile platform have been tumbling out of Microsoft. Respected journalists have been talking about credible sources within Microsoft telling them about a new hardware device and a fork of Windows designed specifically to run on this new hardware.
The rumours may be credible, but Microsoft has none in the smartphone game. Having rebooted its platform four times in the last seven years, each time abandoning a portion of its hard won customer base you'd have to say another foray into the market is doomed to failure. Making that new platform incompatible with what has gone before just adds more 'fail' into the mix.
The annoying thing is that Windows 10 Mobile remains the best smartphone platform out there in so many ways. Microsoft and Nokia led the market with so many innovations its hard to count them. Certainly Apple and Google have cherry-picked those ideas for their own platforms.
A colleague was recently expansively talking up the features of his new Galaxy S8 - a wonderful device, but actually how much of its 'innovation' is new? As he talked about the iris scanner, live standby screen and DeX dock I was able to point to the Lumia 950 as having all this capability - and more - even though it launched in 2015.
The problem for Microsoft has always been the app gap. Nobody launched new and exciting apps on Windows phones. The App Store for iOS was the first port of call, with Android following closely behind. Some developers just couldn't see the Windows phone market being big enough to make it worth the effort, others actively set out to exclude Windows.
Even though the push for UWP applications resulting from the arrival of Windows 10 S means that more and more apps will support Windows Mobile - in whatever form Microsoft sees that taking in the future - those apps will be primarily desktop focused apps. The smart, clever, fun and popular apps which are major persuaders in mobile platform choice will continue to arrive on iOS and Android only.
That's the reality which any Windows Mobile reboot Microsoft has planned has to face. I can see no outcome for a new Windows phone platform that doesn't end in another expensive failure for Microsoft.
Right now a device like the HP Elite x3, which targets enterprise customers with a completely unique offering, is the right way for Windows Mobile to go. Microsoft should learn its lessons of the past and realise that this is also the only way for it to go.