Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Microsoft’s October 6th Event: Is Microsoft Windows 10 Mobile Dead on Arrival?

Windows 10 Mobile

What happened, you may be wondering. A lot happened! In the world of technology, 10 years are an eternity. However, Microsoft’s fall can be explained by two factors: The rise of rivals like Apple and the company’s slow reaction to new shifts in the industry.

In 2007, Apple upset the tech industry with the release of the first iPhone, which quickly became the standard for smartphones in the world. A year later, in 2008, Google introduced Android, a mobile platform which the company bought from a smaller company with same name. Despite its initial flaws, Android established itself as an alternative to Apple’s iOS system and became the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Among themselves, Android and iOS, hold more than 95 percent of the mobile market, with 83% and 14% market share respectively according to IDC.
So what happened to Windows Mobile? Microsoft’s platform was not the only victim made by Apple and Google; major players like BlackBerry and Nokia also endured the same fate. However, unlike BlackBerry and Nokia, Microsoft was very well positioned to dominate the mobile age. The company was and still is one of the richest companies in the world, with large resources and know-how to compete with other giants like Apple and Google. But it did not take advantage of its resources and found itself chasing others when it finally realized its mistake. We all remember when former CEO Steve Ballmer dismissed the iPhone as an overpriced toy that nobody would buy.

Microsoft – to be fair – did try to get back in the game. The company released in 2010 a new mobile operating system Windows Phone 7 to replace its outdated Windows Mobile platform. The new OS was slick, fast and modern. It featured an innovative design that received great reviews from the tech industry. However, as a new platform, it created the usual catch-22 for the company: nobody wanted it because there were no apps for it and developers did not want to spend time and resources building apps for it since nobody was using it. Thus, Windows Phone 7 never caught on and in 2012 Microsoft released yet again a new Operating System, Windows Phone 8.

Despite their names, Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 were two radically different systems. They came with different kernels, making it impossible for Windows Phone 7 apps to run on Windows Phone 8. As a result, the company found itself again starting from scratch. As it is often said, the same cause produces the same result: no apps, nobody using it, no devs… no apps.
 Windows Phone 8 – despite being arguably the most stable operating system in the industry, despite its most futuristic design language – could never cross the 5% market-share mark.
Today in 2015, Microsoft has a new plan, a new platform. Windows 10 Mobile is upon us. So what’s different? Can it survive or is it dead on arrival?
The major difference between Windows 10 Mobile and the other platforms that came before it is in the fact that it is not a standalone platform like its predecessors. It runs on the same kernel as Microsoft’s desktop platform Windows 10, which allows developers to build Apps that can run on a wide range of devices without having to build them for each.

That particular ability gives Windows 10 Mobile a major advantage over its older brothers. Since Windows 10 is already a hugely popular platform – 70 million installs since its release in July this year – developers can no longer ignore it. And since it does not take much to build Universal Apps – like Microsoft call them – why not do it?

Another major feature of Windows 10 is Continuum. This feature allows Universal Apps to reshape themselves depending on the size of the display they are being used on. As such, apps running on Windows 10 Mobile could easily replace their desktop counterparts when the phone is connected to a bigger screen. Continuum has been demoed by Microsoft using the company’s own office suite and it seems to work very well.

Universal Apps and Continuum are expected to be the main selling points for Windows 10 Mobile. Rightly so. But what is an OS worth with a lack hardware to match it? Apple has been able to conquer the mobile world with a perfect combination of the two. iOS has always been reliable and easy to use snd the quality of the hardware of the iPhone remains at the top of the industry. For Microsoft to win the hearts of consumers, it will also need some amazing hardware to match its OS.
It is rumored that the company will be unveiling a series of new phones at its October 6th event, but the leaked images of the phones failed to impress the public so far. As an underdog, Microsoft can’t afford to simply propose good phones; they have to be the best.

Windows 10 Mobile is Microsoft’s chance to make a dent in the market, and perhaps its last chance to remain relevant in the mobile world. Universal Apps and Continuum are appealing features but will they be enough to woo consumers? Great software require great hardware! Perhaps Microsoft will surprise us on October 6th. Only time will tell. But without a doubt, Microsoft is at a crucial moment in its life as a company. Windows 10 Mobile will not take over the world. Very Unlikely. But, it may make all the difference. After all, with a 3% market share, there is nowhere to go but up.