Tag Archives | Windows Mobile

Android Proving a Worthy Contender to iPhone, RIM

comScore’s latest numbers show that Google’s Android platform is really beginning to gain some traction in the smartphone market. From the November 2009 to February period, Android took 9 percent of the market, up sharply from 3.8 percent in the previous three month period.

Notable among comScore’s findings is the fact that Android seems to be attracting a different user base than either market-leading RIM or Apple. RIM managed to increase its share to 42.1 percent, while Apple maintained its 25.4 percent share. Instead, Android’s victims are Microsoft (who fell four percent to 15.1%) and Palm (7.2 to 5.4 percent).

Overall, smartphones have shown 21 percent year-over-year growth, verifying that there is still plenty of room for growth in this still somewhat nascent market.

I’ve long said since Verizon’s “iDont” commercials that the Android platform would for the most part not take market share from Apple, and this has proved that theory somewhat. Those on the platform are probably more likely new to smartphones overall, and the open nature of the OS means that the availability of Android phones is much broader (there is now at least one Android-powered phone on every major US cellular provider).

One thing can be said now, I think: Android is indeed a success.


Windows Mobile 7 to Debut at WMC 2010

You may have remembered our reporting about two weeks ago putting the future of Windows Mobile 7 into doubt, and pushing its release further into the future. Enter DigiTimes, who its refuting some of that reporting saying Microsoft is ready to debut WM7 at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona complete with a release date.

DigiTimes says that Microsoft will announce an OEM availability in September, translating to a retail availability by the end of the year or early in 2011. This would be for English and European languages: Asian translations will come later, probably in 2011.

So who’s right? DigiTimes is probably a more reputable source than whomever Bright Side of News is, but their track record in accurate scoops isn’t much better. Guess we will see…


Is Windows Mobile 7 Delayed Again or Not?

Microsoft has truly been blindsided by the success of the iPhone and now the Android platform. This could not be more evident by the repeated delays in bringing the OS to market, and now some reports are indicating we may be waiting even longer. According to a report on tech news site Bright Side of News, any release could be pushed back to 2011. If true, it would mean a two-year delay from Microsoft’s initially announced release date.

The delay has a lot to do with the success of Android. Manufacturers and developers are still falling head over heels for the OS, leaving little room for Microsoft to maneuver. Devices that originally were pegged to run WM7 will now be Android based. Manufacturers were apparently telling BSN at CES that the delay was real, and the strategy was to employ Google’s mobile OS to remain competitive in the market.

If true, it certainly spells nothing but trouble for Microsoft. Already failing in the digital music category with the Zune, it now stands to lose the smartphone segment as well to a surging Google and already dominant Apple. A delay just cannot happen.

It seems as if there may be disagreement in the Microsoft press ranks, however. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley — who definitely has more credibility in predicting Microsoft’s moves I’d think — seemed to suggest in a January 7 post that it was all systems go to see WM7 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month. Microsoft would talk about the platform as well as My Phone — it’s upcoming answer to MobileMe — there, with development details at MIX10 in Las Vegas the following month.

She pointed to comments by Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division President Robbie Bach at CES last week which did say Microsoft would be discussing WM7 in Barcelona.

So who do we believe? It’s hard to be sure. Microsoft must get this release right to stay competitive in the mobile space. But at the same time, I’d find it hard to believe they would risk failure by leaving the ship date for WM7 to slip once again.


iPhone SMS Vulnerability: Should You be Scared?

iPhone ScreamRun for the hills! That’s the message iPhone owners are receiving after multiple reports say security researchers will tomorrow unveil an iPhone vulnerability that could allow the popular device to be taken over via simple SMS (or text) message.

The bug, discovered by iPhone hacker Charlie Miller, will be outlined during a presentation at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Thursday. Miller’s presentation will supposedly show, as Forbes’ headline screams, “How To Hijack ‘Every iPhone In The World’”. To do so, attackers only need to send a series of specially-formatted SMS messages to an iPhone in order to take over functions such as dialing and turning on the camera and microphone, as well spreading the attack via an affected iPhone’s contact list.

Apple, which Miller notified about the bug six weeks ago, has not commented on the vulnerability and as of this writing has not released a patch for the problem. What can iPhone owners do in the meantime? Miller tells Forbes about the only thing that will surely protect the device is to turn it off.

Miller’s talk isn’t the only centered around SMS vulnerabilities. Other talks will show a somewhat similar flaw in Windows Mobile that would allow for complete control of a device to be achieved through a SMS hack. A third Black Hat talk will center around how an SMS flaw that affects both iPhone and Google Android devices could be used to knock impacted phones off a carrier network for upwards of ten seconds via a blast of SMS messages.

Should you be scared of these newest flaws and really turn off your iPhone in anticipation of an attack? I don’t think so. The SMS attack vector is not all that new. This past spring, CSO Online did a video demonstration of such an attack against various smart phones (see parts one and two of the video).

While the various Black Hat presentations this week will show SMS as being a newer vector for attacking popular smartphone platforms, the odds are still relatively low that any one device will be hit. Most likely (or hopefully), device makers like Apple and carriers will come up with a patch for the SMS flaws well before any mainstream attacks occur. You have a greater chance of being bitten by a Twitter-based hack than an SMS attack.


Microsoft: Windows CE is Closer to End-of-Life than Windows

On Monday, Microsoft debuted its long-awaited Windows Mobile 6.5 update at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. But as Microsoft moves forward with its “Midori” operating system incubation project, the longevity of Windows CE–the platform that Windows Mobile is based on–is in doubt, according to internal company documents viewed by Technologizer.

The documents refer to a “general sense that Windows CE is far, far closer to its end-of-life than Windows.” Indeed, Microsoft does not believe that the existing ecosystem of Windows CE devices, applications, third-party developers, and customers will force it to continue developing Windows CE indefinitely. “The device space is evolving fast enough that legacy support is less of a concern (than it would be to migrate users from the existing Windows code base,” it noted.

Midori is a componentized, Internet-centric operating system being architected from the ground up by a team led by Eric Rudder, senior vice president for technical strategy at Microsoft. Last summer, I reported that Microsoft was considering creating a layered, thin platform for mobile devices out of it–a product which could replace Windows Mobile over the long haul.

In such a scenario, Microsoft might end up with variants of one basic OS platform–Midori–on both traditional PCs and other mobile devices. The caveat is that Microsoft remains uncertain how far the company can go with a single codebase at Midori’s core.

According to the internal Microsoft documents, “There’s a limit on the hardware range that can be addressed with a single codebase, no matter how factored and substitutable the components. The litmus test of whether a device is too small to support with code may be if it can download code. Even if we cannot execute our code on tiny devices (light switches & smart sand), we may be able to extend our model to those devices, in the form of naming, the protocol for remote calls, etc.”

The documents noted that a general-purpose device OS must be carefully designed to be reconfigurable into myriad of configurations. That is not impossible to accomplish–Apple did it successfully with OS X, which powers both Macs and iPhones. Microsoft’s Visual Studio development tools are being updated with Application Lifecycle Management that will make it easier for it to create multiple versions of Windows based on the same codebase (assuming that Microsoft uses Visual Studio to develop Midori).

As I previously disclosed, Midori is designed to have a single framework for all device types called Resource Management Infrastructure (RMI). RMI is designed to manage and monitor I/O bandwidth, memory, power, and other resources, and to take them into account as it schedules tasks for processing. Microsoft believes that Midori’s power-based scheduling would be a good fit for mobile devices.

“I think we’re about to deluged over the next few years with Mobile Internet Devices as Intel pushes the Atom chip and AMD rushes to catch up,” Forrester Research principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond told me. That would seem an interesting place for Midori as the hardware is pretty similar [to traditional PC design], but power and form factor are different.’


Full-Fledged Flash on Smartphones. Most of Them, Anyhow…

Mobile World CongressIt’s tempting to crack a joke about “Skip Intro” coming soon to a smartphone near you. But seriously, this is good news: Here at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Adobe is announcing that it plans to bring Flash Player to phones running the Windows Mobile, Android, and Symbian Series 60 operating systems, as well as Palm’s upcoming Web OS, in 2010. This is supposed to be full-fledged Flash, not the slimmed-down “Flash Lite” technology that’s been on phoned for years and which has failed to make any impact at all.

Say what you will about Flash, it’s unquestionably a significant component of today’s “real Web,” and I’ve spent enough time being frustrated by its absence that I’m anxious to see how it translates onto a tiny screen. Even though the one significant platform that isn’t part of Adobe’s announcement today is the one I use most often: Apple’s iPhone. [UPDATE: Er, one of two–BlackBerry isn’t part of the announcement either.] Adobe still says it’s working on Flash for the iPhone, but that it’s really up to Apple to decide whether we get it. Which it is, as long as the App Store is the only viable iPhone distribution channel…