Windows Phone 7 has what it takes to be a serious contender in the smartphone arena. Microsoft has some significant ground to make up, though, in order to compete with platforms like Android and iOS. But is it too late?
One of my PCWorld peers, Joseph Fieber, recently wrote a post describing why he believes that Windows Phone 7 is too little, too late. Fieber sums up with, "The mobile-market ship has sailed, and while business users will continue to use Microsoft's products, they will more frequently access them through the devices and operating systems of their competitors."
It is true that the users access Microsoft servers and services from a diverse array of mobile devices and platforms beyond Windows Phone 7. However, that is more a testament to the dominance of Microsoft in other areas than it is an indictment of Windows Phone 7. Of course third-party mobile platforms like iOS and Android connect to and work with Microsoft products. How could they not?
The goal of Windows Phone 7 isn't to be the only mobile OS capable of connecting to and working with the vast Microsoft ecosystem. The goal of Windows Phone 7 is to do so better--to integrate more seamlessly and deliver a superior experience that gives customers incentive to want to use Windows Phone 7.
Windows Phone 7 does that. It is a refreshing mobile OS that brings something different to the table rather than just parroting iOS. It is an impressive experience--one I highly recommend you consider the next time you're in the market for a new smartphone.
Microsoft is coming a little late to the party with Windows Phone 7. iOS and Android have a significant head start and seemingly insurmountable market share. But, it was the right decision to scrap Windows Mobile and go back to square one to engineer a completely new mobile OS that does more than just try to squeeze the Windows desktop OS onto a smartphone.
One area where I completely agree with Fieber is that the mobile ecosystem has evolved--pushed by the consumerization of IT. It is unrealistic to expect any business to remain monogamous to a single mobile OS because workers are bringing their own devices into the mix, and many prefer Android or iOS.
The Achilles heel of Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's dedication to a Microsoft-centric world. Microsoft offers a diverse collection of platforms and tools, but it needs to also keep its ecosystem and mobile OS as open as possible--both allowing for other mobile platforms to seamlessly connect with the Microsoft infrastructure, and enabling Windows Phone 7 to easily connect and work with other systems.
Microsoft can hold its own, but it needs to have enough confidence in its own products to set its customers free and let them choose. Windows Phone 7--especially Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango"--is proof that Microsoft is capable of delivering a solid mobile experience and competing head to head with Android and iOS.