Microsoft is every bit as iconic a company as Ford and IBM and belongs alongside them in the pantheon of world businesses. At the same time, it wants a future. For the past few years, Microsoft has struggled to adjust to new realities and retain – or regain – its relevance.
Nowhere is this struggle in greater evidence than in mobility. The reality is that the success of smartphones and tablets – areas in which Microsoft is not strong – came directly out of the hide of areas in which it excels.
There are roughly overlapping questions surrounding the fate of Microsoft’s mobile efforts and which mobile operating system will stake out the all-important third spot behind Android and iOS.
IT World’s Preston Galla offered a bit of insight into both questions this week. His commentary began by recounting Microsoft’s mobile missteps, which are plenty and legendary. As often happens in such commentaries, the good news, from Microsoft’s perspective at least, follows the bad. Galla reports that Strategy Analytics says Windows-based tablets are at 7.5 percent market share and that IDC says Windows Phone 8 devices garnered 3.2 percent of the market during the first quarter.
Neither of those figures is impressive in isolation. But, as Galla points out, the Windows Phone 8 number puts it in third place behind the big two in mobile OSes and the company has gained significantly on the iPad in the tablet sector. The bottom line is that Microsoft finally has at least a small bit of momentum in mobility.
Another glimmer of good news for Microsoft in the mobile space is evident in this story by Tim Brugger at Motley Fool that looks at the status of the Microsoft/Nokia relationship. Brugger notes a small statistical uptick for Microsoft and adds that Microsoft and Nokia may disproportionately benefit from the still vast market of folks upgrading from feature phones, a Nokia strength, to smartphones:
The much-anticipated shift from feature phones to smartphones is complete after smartphones took over the No. 1 spot in sales compared to feature phones last quarter. And that's good news for Microsoft and Nokia. Of all the Windows phone OS sales in the past year, the majority of which are Nokia devices, 42% were feature phone users upgrading to smartphones, 25% swapped Windows devices, and 23% came from an Android smartphone. No word from Kantar on the remaining 10% of Windows OS sales.
A big shakeup apparently is in the offing in Redmond. Forbes’ Adam Hartung says that the company is expected to divide itself into three divisions focusing on servers and tools, Skype and Lync and xBox.
The bottom line: The businesses that Microsoft pioneered and made its fortune in have shifted and the reaction the company made to those changes has been muddled.