Wired looks at how Microsoft blew it in the smartphone market

MacMall 96 Hour Apple Sale“When it comes to smartphones, Microsoft is getting beat up worse than a mustachioed villain in a Jackie Chan movie,” Brian X. Chen reports for Wired.

“Windows Mobile has lost nearly a third of its smartphone market share since 2008, research firm Gartner reports. Windows Mobile had 11 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2008, according to Gartner, and last quarter Windows Mobile’s market share plummeted to 7.9 percent,” Chen reports. “Meanwhile, Apple’s global market share grew from 12.9 percent to 17.1 percent, and RIM saw a rise from 16 percent to 20.8 percent, according to Gartner’s figures.”

“It’s worth noting Microsoft got a head start with Windows CE, its pocket PC OS, in 1996. Windows CE serves as the foundation for the Windows Mobile OS shipping with some smartphones today,” Chen reports. “The smartphone OS market, in fact, has existed for several years, and Microsoft was an early leader in the space. But only recently have several additional corporations stepped into this space with their own platforms.”

Chen reports, “Microsoft’s biggest problem? One word: iPhone.”

“To Peter Hoddie, CEO of Kinoma, which develops a mobile media browser for Windows Mobile and other platforms, a major knock against Windows Mobile [is]… the weakness of the bundled apps included with it. ‘Their first problem is the built-in apps are uninspiring, so that sets a very low bar for developers who are coming to the platform.’ Hoddie compared Windows Mobile to the iPhone, whose apps he described as ‘beautiful,’ which encourages third-party developers to produce apps of similar quality,” Chen reports. “He added that Microsoft’s second problem is segmentation in the hardware ecosystem. Windows Mobile ships with several different manufacturers’ hardware, including HTC, LG and Samsung. The problem? From a developer perspective, that requires coding an app for several phones with different UI styles, buttons and screen sizes. (The same problem, incidentally, has started to plague Android developers.)”

Full article – highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Dull-witted, lumbering Microsoft didn’t just blow it in smartphones, they blew it in the next-gen personal computing market, the one that’s carried in your pocket, not plopped on or under your desk. This isn’t complicated, but it is quite karmic: Apple and Steve Jobs are taking back what’s rightfully theirs.


  1. “Microsoft’s biggest problem? One word: iPhone.”
    I believe iPhone is the biggest problem for all the companies.
    Before the iphone, you just made a crappy phone, change the appearance in the exterior, put crappy hardware inside and you sell it as a whole new machine. After the iphone, if you don’t make a really good phone (and they haven’t yet), you will loose market share.

    That is why Apple is getting the more profits, because Apple is a company that is rule by quality not quantity. The rest of the companies where ruled by quantity only, so they now have to spend millions to be “innovative” and made quality products, so it is like they are staring even that they have years in the market.

  2. In one word the cause of Microsoft’s rise and it fall- JOBS. Steve Jobs that is.

    He has given so much for Microsoft to copy. Yet, he has done it so well that they can not even do that right. And now they are falling apart as people are finding the real deal. Apple.

    Steve Jobs helps with the rise and fall of Microsoft. The tasteless, poorly conveived, and boring company. Can it learn for the master software and computer design company that Steve Jobs built, removed from, and returned to the number one computer innovation company in the world? Probably not. Not after seeing the new retail stores and the dancing staff. Wow, is not a word I would use to describe it. Rather a creaking sound as a build starts to tear itself apart.

  3. @Troy:

    Great statement. I ask everyone if they remember phones before the iPhone. I do. They were tiny, both in size and screen, and were not very usable, especially for applications.

    After the iPhone intro, every company tried to play it off as if they were also developing something like the iPhone, which they were….. starting the very next day.

    They’ll never get it and, most likely, will never catch up.

  4. “you will loose market share.”

    Sorry, I am an English teacher. The word is “lose” not “loose.”

    Don’t know where that is coming from. Spell checkers? I see it every day now.

  5. Microsoft failing? Big surprise there.
    Try writing non-shitty software and see what happens.

    Actually, had Microsoft set some strict limits on hardware specs… pixel count of screens and hardware, like buttons and such… they might have done a bit better.

    Still, MS’s specialty in the software arena is writing bloated crap.

  6. @ kenh
    The word is “lose” not “loose.”

    Amazing how often this word is misspelled. I’ve been wondering if it’s spelled “loose” in other countries? How else could so many people spell it wrong?

    Now you can fix my grammar! lol

  7. @ericdano: Ah, so the Android love affair looks like it might be sorta like the Windows Mobile love affair. Don Draper needs to be brought in to help Windows Mobile…..

    You mean like the idiot who thought jai alai was the Next Big Thing? Sure, we’ll take your money, but there ain’t no helping that dog.

  8. This article reminds me why I have long supported Apple with my pocket book. Microsoft needs competition. They seem to have no drive to excel on behalf of their end customers. Windows computers have always been a mediocre experience at best, but smart phones before the iPhone were poor. MIcrosoft was the king, extracting its cut of the tribute, satisfied to let the various feudal lords control their respective domains, make and enforce their rules, and extract the tributes. Peasants suffering with overpriced, crappy phones and burdensome restrictions? Not MIcrosoft’s problem.

    I recall the way a friend and president of a start-up fawned over MIcrosoft. His smart phone was an HP kludge running Windows CE. It looked like something thrown together by Frankenstein, perhaps ready to transform into a paperweight or a scroll saw. When it slid off the car seat onto the street, it fell into several pieces! Crashing of course. But it crashed frequently anyway, even when assembled. My friend excused all. HP is a good company. Microsoft is big, successful, with a huge R&D;budget, driving the industry, with maybe grants for start-ups like his. They’ve got to be the best, right? Arg.

    The iPhone’s success is only a symtom. MIcrosoft’s biggest problem is that they tolerate a mediocre or poor user experience.

  9. The article got it wrong in one huge way;

    “Chen reports, “Microsoft’s biggest problem? One word: iPhone”

    should read;

    “Chen reports, “Microsoft’s biggest problem? One word: Microsoft”

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