The rise and fall of Windows Mobile, under outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer

“For several years, before Apple introduced an iPhone, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software system was a dominant product in what was then a niche category, back when smartphones were still luxury devices for businesspeople who wanted a portable computing device that doubled as a phone,” Brian X. Chen writes for The New York Times.

“‘Microsoft was a natural company to step up and provide that service, and as a result it achieved significant market share, at least in the U.S.,’ said Jan Dawson, a telecom analyst for Ovum. Microsoft’s market share peaked at about 60 percent in 2007, the year the iPhone was released,” Chen writes. “Microsoft, like Nokia and BlackBerry, was slow to react to the new expectations created by the iPhone.”

Chen writes, “Unlike previous smartphones, the iPhone catered to everyday consumers. Its touch screen made it easy to use for both work and play, and eventually users could add apps and games to customize its capabilities however they wanted. That was a stark alternative to earlier smartphones with keyboards and styluses running Windows software.”

“The first phones with Windows Phone 7 hit the market in late 2010, but by then Apple’s iOS software and Google’s Android completely dominated the mobile market, giving little room for a relevant third player,” Chen writes. “[Today], Windows Phone software runs on a mere 3.7 percent of smartphones worldwide… As Mr. Ballmer looks toward the exit, he may regret his infamous words during a television interview with CNBC in January 2007, in reaction to Apple’s introduction of the iPhone. ‘That is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good e-mail machine,’ Mr. Ballmer said. ‘I kinda look at that and I say, well, I like our strategy. I like it a lot.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: For old times’ sake, a video of which we never tire, especially since (when all of this is distilled to its basic essence) the reason for the ouster of Steve Ballmer is Steve Jobs’ iPhone.

That’s right: Steve Ballmer is high profile iPhone roadkill.

Enjoy this fine example of “hubris before the karma”:


    1. What “strategy”? 🙂 It wasn’t really a “rise and fall.”

      When iPhone was released, Ballmer initially went into denial mode. Then, he panicked and essentially “threw away” the well-established Windows Mobile platform; Microsoft worked furiously (for three years) to start over from ZERO users with Windows Phone 7, screwing over partners (and customers) who had made a commitment to Windows Mobile. Great strategy…

      The funny thing is that Palm and Nokia basically did the same thing. Palm killed sales of their existing products (on the Palm OS platform) by announcing WebOS and the Pre, more than six months before the eventual release. Nokia got “taken over” by Microsoft, and announced replacement of its Symbian platform by Windows Phone. By instead of having a new product to release immediately, it was almost one year before they had their first products running Windows Phone.

      So the story here is the “rise of iPhone,” and how Apple’s competitors panicked and shot themselves in the foot.

      1. Actually, you have it wrong. Windows mobile OS, old Palm OS and Smybian (Nokia) were not able to run desktop class software as the iPhone did at the time. They were all professing how their product were better than apple, but they were quietly all curled up in a fetal position underneath there desk trying to figure out what just happened. For various reason, these OSes were destined to be road kill in this new market.

    1. The most striking thing that no one seems to talk about is when Balmer say’s, “OK, we are not the incumbent in this case, he is”.
      Balmer was focused on fighting Steve Jobs and not the products. SJ focused on the products and innovation and not on fighting MS. To this day, MS is still so focused on beating their competitors instead of focusing on products or solutions.

      Plain and simple, Balmer saw this as a MS vs Steve Jobs and that is why he used “he” instead of Apple or them. He was doomed to fail because it became personal instead of good business decisions.

  1. I still would like to see Microsoft stick around especially if BB completely folds. Apple needs competition to stay relevant. And if Samsung really goes with Tizen OS for their phones, who will carry the Android banner? I’m surprised Ballmer lasted this long. Karma’s a bitch.

    1. Apple does NOT need competition to stay relevant. Even when Apple has created a situation where it is the dominant player, the innovations keep coming and Apple keeps improving their products.

      Apple isn’t looking over it’s shoulder to compete with rivals, Apple is looking forwards to improve on what it already does. You only need to take a cursory glance at how Apple operates to realise that Apple’s ethos is the pursuit of excellence and you can only do that if you start with a very thoroughly worked out concept and then continually refine and enhance that concept. Looking over your shoulder destroys that forward focus. You can’t simply change course to bolt on this year’s latest trend without compromising your existing plans.

      If you want to see the alternative, look at Samsung. They only ever look over their shoulder, they don’t have a strategic vision other than to be fast copiers. The big problem for Samsung is that it has no idea which trends are the hot trends, so instead they copy everything, add every feature and launch a raft of different products and then see which ones turned out to be the good sellers.

  2. He should have added the Squirt Features into Windows Mobile, but an upgraded version. I found this from the MS Secret Archives: “Multi-Squirt” features allows the users to Squirt Friends and Family at the same moment. Giving them the full experience of receiving a Squirt without having to wait for the first Squirt to finish. Concurrent Multiple Sessions of Squirting has never been more fun. We will soon release Squirting Unlimited. Yes Squirt Entire City population in one Massive Squirt!

  3. The first time I saw that clip I thought he was scared sh*tless and was just putting on a n act for the public (didn’t want to spook enterprise buyers and investors).

    Since then of course we’ve learned the sad truth: he just didn’t get it.

    1. Yes, he had to be faking it, some of us thought, because nobody could be that clueless…

      To the established players at the time, iPhone seemed like little more than a weird gimmicky fad. But after it kept selling, quarter after quarter, you’d expect them to respond! Their complacency caused them to delay until it was pretty much too late. (Exception was Google who caught on right away and dolled up Android with touch screens. And they flourished.)

      1. Because they had Eric the Mole, who wasn’t stupid, and he saw and heard Jobs in strategic board meetings, showing of the real thing, months before the rest of the world first saw it (in January 2007). All he needed to do is tell his engineers what to do to the Android (he could even draw it on a napkin).

  4. I love this video.

    I love the doofy “I like it a lot”, but also the competitiveness he’s trying to espouse…it’s so funny to hear his (carefully measured) reasons for why Microsoft is rockin’ …man, there is much here.

  5. “…but how do you compete with that? He sucked out………”
    Look at his fat face as this, (the second question) is lobbed. If that isn’t a face of “aw holy crap here it comes”, then begins one of the better BalmerSpeak moments of all times. “……particularly what we’re doing with community….”, what the hell is talking about? MS working with the local PTA for godsake? Baaaphuuuunnnne. Tis priceless.

    1. Definitely love that brave face he is giving when he gets the expected iPhone question you mention. I’m sure he was ready with his game face. And his game faces are hilarious.

      Haha…..Community. Did you already forget “welcome to the social?” “Squirting” songs to your friends?

      “We took 20% of the [pause] [hand motions] higher end of the market.”

      “They’re gonna have to keep up with the agenda that we will be driving…”

      “Absolutely. [grin] If we didn’t think there was transformation going on we wouldn’t be playing.”

      All the competitive speak makes me laugh. It’s stands in juxtaposition of Apple. You don’t hear much gobbledygook game talk from Apple bosses. It’s a language for idiots.

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