Belfiore wasn’t shy about criticizing Google’s Android OS. Even though Google currently dominates the mobile OS market, its strategy of licensing the Android OS to manufacturers is similar to Microsoft’s previous approach with Windows Mobile: It’s open-ended, and there are few restrictions on how manufacturers can use or modify the OS.
As a result, Android is suffering from some of the same issues as Windows Mobile did: Android works better on some phones than others, manufacturers are shipping different versions of the OS on different phones, some Android phones are shipping with bloatware made by carriers, and some app developers complain that it’s difficult to make software because of the hardware and OS fragmentation.
Android remains the only mobile OS still patterned after Microsoft’s 2002 vision of the mobile value chain
only a handful of companies may get into WP7 when it arrives, they added. HTC may end up controlling 70 to 80 percent of the market simply by being one of the initial partners
Confirming my assumption that “Android is clearly the darling of “Others” who are being shunned by Microsoft”.
Windows Phone had its day in the sun yesterday. After discarding its previous seven-year effort with Windows Mobile, Microsoft started with a clean sheet of paper. However, whereas the software has been re-built, the business model has not. WP is still a licensed operating system whose primary customers are mobile phone vendors. With Symbian mostly out of the picture, WP becomes only the second viable commercially licensed mobile OS, after Android.
So with two licensed platforms in the running, how do we measure success in the licensing business? Units sold to end users is one metric. But that data will have to include the performance of vendors and operators and other distributors. And it will take a year to do valid comparisons. The only indicative metric we have available today is how many devices have been committed by vendors.
As WP is out of the gate with device announcements, we can actually measure this. We can plot each vendor’s commitment to various platforms as an early indicator of strategic success. To that end, here’s the methodology: I took all smartphone vendors and tallied how many SKUs they have announced or leaked for either the WP or Android platforms (source: pdadb.net). I then plotted each vendor on two “commitment axes” (see notes below).
The chances are extremely small. There are three scenarios where this would make sense:
- If there was a specific market that required it. It would also need to be a large opportunity since developing a new platform and diluting existing platforms need significant upside. The only such market is the US, but there are better options available, namely Android that have better potential and Android is treated as a toxin by Nokia (see metaphor).
- Specific users. Windows Mobile used to be justified for business users, but Windows Phone is not targeting business users.
- The last option would be “strategic” i.e. Microsoft paying Nokia for using the OS (directly or indirectly through marketing co-spend or other symbolisms). I don’t think Nokia is desperate enough yet.
Although it’s never prudent to say never, I just don’t see any logic for Nokia to add to its bill of materials for phones while facing price pressure.
That makes a total of six devices for [AT&T] who is looking more and more like the premier Windows Phone 7 partner.
With Verizon shaping Android into its image, you can read AT&T’s embrace of Microsoft as the deeply-held belief by operators that they need multi-platform balance in their portfolio.
The idea that operators will tolerate “dominance” of a platform is looking less and less tenable.