One of the key issues running in the background of the mobile sector is whether Microsoft's Windows Phone will make the company a major player in the mobile game.
The signs are not good. Earlier this week, comScore MobiLens released numbers that suggest little traction from its deal with Nokia or any of the other steps the firm has taken. Indeed, the firm has taken a step backwards: For the three months ending in January, Google increased its share of the smartphone market 2.3 percentage points to 48.6 percent and Apple 1.4 percentage points to 29.5 percent compared to the year-ago period. Microsoft, meanwhile, dropped 2 percentage points to 15.2 percent.
eWeek uses a slideshow format to lay out the problems Microsoft faces. The 10 reasons run from the gamut from marketing shortcomings to lack of cooperation from carriers to the failure to adequately educate the marketplace. Of course, Microsoft would likely push back against the reasons but, taken together, the slideshow constitutes a persuasive indictment.
Microsoft's take is provided at Mashable. Lance Ulanoff suggests that executives at the Mobile World Congress are satisfied with the progress being made by Windows Phone. The crux of the argument is that Windows Mobile, Microsoft's previous mobile phone, was not loved but was widely available (any particular desktop software come to mind?). The company took the bold step of starting from scratch. Suddenly, for instance, availability went from 27 languages to five. In that context, the thinking goes, Windows Phone is about where it should be.
The logical conclusion of that train of thought is that Windows Phone has not yet succeeded or failed and that the pivotal time is ahead. If that's so, 2012 figures to be that time. Long-time Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley writes on the topic of the company's mobile future at Redmondmag. The piece suggests that the company is planning a tight integration between Windows Phone and Windows 8. She first describes some technical ways in which the two will be bound and then addresses broader concerns:
Beyond sharing key pieces, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are going to be more tightly integrated on the synchronization front. The process of saving, sharing and retrieving files, data and documents across the platforms via SkyDrive and other mechanisms will be tighter and more seamless. There will be new Companion apps to make Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 work better together by deeply integrating core services and experiences across the two platforms.
The key point is that Microsoft still is king of the desktop and, though that doesn't carry the cache it did a decade ago, it still means a lot. How much it will help Windows Phone of course is a story that is yet to be told.