The Case For a Microsoft Phone

By  |  Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Should Microsoft build a phone of its own? Over at Ars Technica, Peter Bright is arguing that it should. The case is pretty straightforward: The iPhone is as good as it is in large part because Apple designed (in Steve Jobs’ famous words) “the whole widget”–the hardware, the software, and the service. Same thing with the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s best and most successful hardware product to date.

Of course, building the whole widget hasn’t guaranteed Microsoft¬† anything in the past: The Zune HD hasn’t made much of a dent in the market. (It’s a nicely-designed product, actually–just one that didn’t show up until after the world had moved on to new classes of devices.) And the Kin–the closest thing to a “Microsoft phone” so far–didn’t quite work out. (Bright, oddly, doesn’t mention the Kin.)

I think there’s a good chance that Microsoft will build a “Microsoft phone” at some point, simply because the temptation may prove irresistible. But that doesn’t mean that putting Windows Phone 7 on different handsets from multiple manufacturers is an idea that’s doomed to fail. After all, it’s similar to what Google is doing with Android–and while the Android rollout isn’t without its bumps, it seems to be going pretty well.

Microsoft’s real danger with Windows Phone 7 isn’t that the basic business model doesn’t make sense. It’s closer to the overarching issue that rendered the Zune irrelevant: It’s possible that a phone OS that ships in late 2010 without cut-and-paste, multitasking, and other features which are universally available on competitors may be too little, too late. Even if the OS is appealing in other respects (and from what I’ve seen of Windows Phone 7 so far, it’s thoughtfully done and potentially neat).

Your take?


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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    It doesn't matter. The problem is not hardware or software, it's that Microsoft was already way too slow for PC's and now mobile makes them look like they are standing still. Whatever they do it will be years behind, poorly executed, and unwanted by the market. Zune HD was years behind, KIN was years behind, Windows Phone 7 is years behind.

  2. John Baxter Says:

    I've resolved my inner conflict: last evening I ordered an iPhone 4 (upgrade from 3G–skipped 3GS). I was very tempted to wait to see the selection of Windows Phone 7 devices (on AT&T and perhaps Verizon: I can't use T-Mobile or Sprint).

    But I decided to wait to see the Rev 1 Windows Phone software, and perhaps then eat the extra cost of switching. Android continues to not interest me.

  3. Jessica W Says:

    –PLAN B–

    Microsoft must already have its own phone designs ready, as it will need a Plan B.

    Windows Phone 7 is missing important features, so it will likely fail when first released. Microsoft wants to keep going with it for "ten years". However, the OEMs are going to desert it.

    The only way Microsoft can keep going for the long term is if it makes its own devices. Surely Microsoft is all ready for this as a contingency plan.

  4. sujith Says:

    Yes, cut&paste and true multi tasking/ intelligent sharing is very important. Wp7 is based windows mobile which already has support for both features and just a matter of time to come with a good implementation for end users.

    It has advantage of both worlds from iPhone and Android, tightly integrated and runs on multiple devices

  5. harvey Says:

    ok the zune HD,has correctly sold 55.5 million units in july.this is what I dont like they didnt launch an international release.but I think these good sales an international release will come soon.but recently a zune pass for UK is soon to come.

  6. MrOldMan Says:

    Blah. There is no story here. Wait until they actually build something new, then report on that. Who cares what they're thinking about. I'm thinking about building a spaceship. Would you like to report on that too?