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Will Microsoft's Mobile Strategy Find Success in the BYOD Era?

21 Dec 2012 | by Rob Arnold
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Microsoft has been in the tech industry news a lot lately as it reinvigorates its play in the mobile device market. There is no doubt that competition is good. Competition keeps the top vendors honest, keeps prices in check and keeps innovation moving forward.

Apple dominates both the smartphone and tablet markets. Android devices are now the second most popular choice in smart mobile devices. After posting strong smart phone and feature phone perfomance in 2012 Samsung dethroned Nokia as the global leader in overall cell phone shipments. RIM still commands a loyal customer base and has created a buzz that grows louder as its Blackberry 10 launch event approaches in January. 

In this age of BOYD does Microsoft stand a chance of clawing its way back to respectable market share?

Frost & Sullivan Senior UCC Analyst, Alaa Saayed, alerted our team to a TMCnet blog that suggests Windows 8 Tablets will beat Apple and Android.

The blog catalyzed an existing debate among Frost & Sullivan analysts - mostly from the perspective of mobile devices in the workplace, but also taking into account some consumer aspects  as well.

The blog opens as follows:"After using and testing the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700t (XE700T1C) for a few weeks I've come to the conclusion that Windows 8 tablets will without a doubt beat Apple iPad tablets and Android tablets. The reason is simple actually and can be summed up in just two words - "No compromise". With Apple tablets and even Android tablets there is always some compromise."

 Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700t

The headline is certainly provactive, as is the first paragraph. The piece raises some good points. We have a lot of respect for our industry colleagues at TMC. But it also raises some flags.

Mike Brandenburg, Frost & Sullivan UCC Industry Analyst, notes that the blog fails to mention price. Mike’s quick web searches suggest that the referenced Samsung Windows 8 Tablet retails for $1200 and up. Mike questions whether anyone seriously looking for a tablet will pay an extra $700 than the cost of an iPad or Android device just for "no compromises".

Mike also notes that the blogger tested the Windows 8 Pro tablet, not the Windows RT devices that are available now (i.e. Surface). Those RT tablets actually have most of the same limitations that iOS and Android tablets have.

With Mike's comments in mind I have to wonder about some of those compatibility issues. We know that developers have prioritized on iOS devices, followed by Android for several years now. Personally, I think that the days of 3rd parties optimizing their apps specifically for Windows in general are starting to wane. Much of what I've seen, heard and read lately seems to indicate that Microsoft's nightmare is coming true.

  • The iPad is eating the consumer PC market.
  • Employees are gradually switching away from using Windows PCs for work.
  • Windows 8 is failing to stop the iPad.
  • Loyal developers are leaving the Microsoft platform.
  • Windows Phone is getting no traction.
  • Office is losing relevance.
  • Microsoft’s other business apps are starting to erode.
  • The platform business is collapsing.

Brent Iadarola, Frost & Sullivan Global Research Director of Mobile & Wireless Communications, shared some of his thoughts. Here are some general comments on Windows Phone 8 (WP8) from our resident expert:

  • iOS and Android are currently dominating the smartphone market, however, the one OS that has strong potential to gain reasonable market share is clearly Windows Phone.
  • WP8 success will largely depend upon how well the rest of Windows 8 is accepted in the marketplace (with PCs, tablets, etc). We have seen that familiarity with a common UI across devices is increasingly important in a consumer's purchasing decision.
  • The 'halo effect', where the OS choice drives the expanded adoption of the same family of products, has been a key driver for device and OS vendors. Thus, once Windows 8 is on laptops, PCs, and tablets, consumers are significantly more likely to adopt WP8.
  • The simple and intuitive tiles-based interface of WP8 has received good feedback from early adopters (AT&T provided analysts with WP8 NOK Lumia 920s at their recent analyst conference - I can attest, it's a very appealing UI). However, Windows Phone 8 will take some time to gain momentum. It is an OS that has been developed from the ground-up. It is not a holdover from WP7. WP 8 has a lot of unique code and not a lot of carry over code. So it will also take some time to get kinks out.

Debatable as they may be, all of the comments here are valid.

The UCC industry has very much focused on the security, cost and control matters pertaining to BYOD. As organizations begin to expect even tighter integration with their IT and UCC infrastructure as well as a more consistent set of features across device types, its clear that the underlying compatibility issues between the desktop and mobile domains are rising to the surface as more prominent concerns.

So, do Microsoft’s advantages outweigh it's challenges in the mobile enterprise space?

Please let us know what you think.