The commitment and resources it takes to have a successful mobile platform are nothing to underestimate. We’re in a market with two main players, but one that features plenty of other hungry competition looking to be the next big thing. And despite some admirable goals, and occasionally even some compelling devices in their portfolios, lately it’s been depressingly hard for smaller platforms to find the sort of longevity needed to make an impact on the market; this past year brought bad news for anyone betting on the long-term prospects of Sailfish OS or Firefox OS. Microsoft’s found itself in an uncomfortable third-place position for a while now; does it have what it takes to expand to broader mobile prominence, or will its own platform go the way of those floundering competitors? In a new interview, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella acknowledges just how tough a spot his company’s smartphone platform is in – while remaining optimistic about the future.
Right now, Microsoft commands only something like 1.7 percent of the global smartphone market, down from 3.0 percent a year ago. Nadella admits that such a fragile position is ultimately unsustainable.
That’s a humbling thing to own up to, but Nadella also says that being laser-focused on market share isn’t a smart way to look at his company’s efforts; he points to mobile as just one node on a graph of Microsoft products and services, giving users a choice of how they interact with the company. Maybe one user turns to Microsoft for his smartphone and cloud storage needs, while other uses a Windows 10 laptop and has an Xbox for gaming. Instead of obsessing over market dominance in all these areas, Microsoft is instead working to deliver a complete Windows experience across form factors, giving users a full set of options.
That’s maybe less than satisfying for a Windows smartphone user who still craves aspects of the smartphone-owning experience that tend to only come with the choice of a popular platform – like having access to the hottest software. Nadella’s also optimistic about what Microsoft’s diverse product lineup has to offer there, suggesting that elite devs will be attracted by the possibilities of HoloLens and Xbox – and the company’s smartphone business would benefit tangentially, especially as universal code makes its impact felt.