What Android (Google’s Mobile OS) Means for Windows Mobile
The Open Handset Alliance may be bigger than you thought in terms of the number of powerful companies that are a part of it. You may know about Google, Motorola, Qualcomm, T-Mobile, and HTC, but add to that list Intel, Sprint, LG, Samsung, NVIDIA, and Texas Instruments. This list of companies includes just about every major player in the handset hardware and distribution arena. This is a big effort.
I was listening to a podcast from msmobiles, which was an interview with the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for HTC in North American, Jason Mackenzie. When asked if HTC is changing their devotion to the Windows Mobile platform, Jason stressed that HTC’s involvement in the OHA is simply to diversify their product offering, and to be able to hit a new type of consumer, that is, those that aren’t interested in Windows Mobile.
I think Microsoft saw this coming. Every time I listen to a Microsoft MVP webcast or get a demonstration of something new from a product manager from the Windows Mobile division, it becomes more and more clear that their focus is shifting to the enterprise. Microsoft wants there to be an Exchange server in every corporate environment, with every employee having a Windows Mobile device tethered to their ear. Blackberry has the majority share of the corporate device market, and Microsoft is chasing after a significant chunk of this market. They are succeeding. The release of Mobile Device Manager in 2008 will give corporations another reason to switch to Windows Mobile as it adds unprecedented levels of control to a company’s fleet of devices.
The truth is, Windows Mobile isn’t as consumer-friendly as the iPhone or even Palm OS. It’s not the easiest to use, and it’s not very customizable (though with third-party software, you get a lot of choices). Devices powered by the Android OS are likely to be much less expensive (since the OS will have a $0 licensing fee) and will be supported by a huge community of professional and amateur developers, so we’ll see a level of customization be possible that we haven’t seen on any mobile platform to date.
As Android comes onto the scene, I think we’re bound to see fewer non-business devices like the HTC Touch go to market, as Microsoft hones its focus on the enterprise.