Much has been written and said about the iPhone, many criticism has been cast at Microsoft for allegedly not being able to provide such a satisfying, simple and consumer driven user experience as the iPhone.
In my view people are overlooking the main issues: while Windows Mobile started as business product and is now growing stronger in the consumer market, the iPhone was from the beginning projected for the consumer and general audience.
Because of this Windows Mobile has still some user interface issues it needs to address, that came from the early versions of Windows CE. Although the Smartphone version is now (version 6.1) more user friendly a more consumer focused, the mainstream version has received little or no attention in this area.
Back in February at Barcelona I had the opportunity to question Robert Bach at the press-conference in the Plaza Hotel about Microsoft’s strategy regarding both versions of Wimo. I asked, from what I had seen and the new Sliding Panels, if the Standard version would be the consumer flagship and the Professional the business oriented version. The answer was not what I expected but is in fact logical: both versions serve both purposes.
However I still defend that there should be a specific version for each audience. I also defend that some OEM’s are in part damaging the platform image and ultimately Microsoft’s.
I have had hundreds of different devices from all forms and factors, from the widest variety of makers you can imagine. I have seen great working devices where OEM’s make Windows Mobile fit like a glove and unfortunately I have seen the reverse: promising devices that when launched are buggy, unusable, and provide a poor user experience, recent example amongst others the new Toshiba G910.
In most cases what saves their face are some hacking communities (like xda-developers and others) that for free take the device to the next level fixing bugs, improving and designing applications based on the incomplete and poor work of others.
The iPhone has risen the bar for the consumer devices, and consumers are now more and more demanding.
I strongly believe that if Microsoft needs to take the task into their own hands, especially if they wish to reach the more and more demanding and critical consumer audience, since figures show that in the business area they are at the moment the first runner up.
Perhaps a Microsoft branding device would do the trick, or a closer tracking and support to OEM’s, and a more demanding certification of Windows Mobile Devices.
The road that lies ahead has many paths, and each very valid, however strategies must evolve to fulfill costumers expectations.
Either way Microsoft is not dormant and recent company acquisitions and figure changes inside MSFT point out to a bright future for all things mobile.