Join Date: Aug 2006
End of Week Thoughts
Do you find 3G, Symbian vs Microsoft, Smartphones, and WiFi interesting? Well, I do too! The latest issue of the largest IT magazine in Sweden, Computer Sweden, was therefore more interesting than usual. I found much food for thought and would like to share some with you.
Vodaphone and 3G
First, Vodafone waits with 3G-networks. While many regions in the world are anxiously waiting for 2.5G (GPRS), the focus is around 3G particularly in Sweden, Finland, Italy and the UK. Hutchinsons mobile network called "3" is up and running in these countries and they are slowly but surely increasing public interest and customer base. One article in Computer Sweden focuses on Vodaphone and their 3G perspectives. According to company officials, they invest heavily in new 3G infrastructure but won't launch any new services until there is a clear value add to customers, networks reach more geography and terminals (cell phones) are more readily available. Probably a financially sounds stance, but not very constructive or innovative. I can see service providers and cell phone manufacturers waiting for companies like Vodaphone, making this a classic chicken-or-egg dilemma.
Where is my Microsoft?
I regret to see that Microsoft seems to assume the same stance. The opportunity to build recognition and brand through being one of the first to bring 3G to market is still available although quickly dissolving. Sometimes I find it difficult to recognize the Microsoft I enjoyed watching in previous product battles. Word vs Word Perfect, Excel vs Lotus 1-2-3, Internet Explorer vs Netscape. Back then Microsoft set out some very aggressive goals, most of which included a "do whatever the competition is doing -- only faster and better, and do it quick!". Maybe the old Microsoft would have done whatever it took to drive the stick into the ground, be the first with a 3G Smartphone. Beat the competition with a loud noise. Doesn't seem to happen. For a while I was convinced that a commodotization of smart phone manufacturing would give Microsoft both quick and siginficant wins, I have not seen that yet. Instead I see competition (read Symbian) pump out models in a near 1:100 ratio in comparison with Microsoft. Something was wrong with my analysis, I believe. Not sure what yet, though. Leaning towards a time axis related explanation.
Which brings me to another article, featured on the front page. I see Microsoft Marketing Manager Annmarie Duffy holding up a Motorola MPX200 and an Orange SPV E200 in a color picture. "We are here to stay!" and "Microsoft sets out to beat Symbian" are two headlines. In the article text, Annmarie Duffy exclaims: "We hope to take as much market share as we have in the PDA market with Pocket PC!". By reading the article I can make out some more comments made during the interview, including a statement that desktop Windows user interface similarities are advantegous, that synchronization of Contacts is a competitive advantage and then finally: "Nokia are good at building terminals and we are good at building software. We would very much like to work with them.". I am extremely glad to see an entire page of Computer Sweden being spent in a positive tone about Windows Mobile (a brand which is said, in the article by the Marketing Manager, to become as strong as Windows XP). I agree with most tof the analysis behind these statements, but I am not seeing much of it moving the market. Moving the market is what Nokia is up to. Their mobile phones generated a $6 billion the last quarter. Quarter. I don't have the latest figures around but I would guess that Microsoft's revenues related to mobile devices are even far from being 1% of Nokia's. To add to the analysis, Computer Sweden also reports that Sony Ericsson (another Symbian player) finally generates a profit for the first time ever. Seven million phones, $1.5 million revenues and $40 million in profits. It seems as if Nokia and Sony Ericsson not only make good terminals but actually have succeeded in bringing a platform (software) to market. I want to see a much more swift, determined and, yes, aggressive Microsoft. Current pace is obviously not enough. All this said, I must conclude that in this extremly competitive setting we have reason to celebrate the fact that Motorola is serious about its Windows Mobile investments and that the number of operators that Microsoft have signed contracts with is steadily increasing.
Internet and PDAs Rule
Another interesting article headlines: "Sony connects everything to the Internet". The article says that Sony believes everything, ranging from cell phones, PDAs, TVs and so on will eventually be Internet connected and given unique IP addresses. Deja Vu. Clay Shirky said it three years ago and I still believe him. Field service, logistics, warehouse and sales are the major business processes that companies are increasingly supporting with PDAs, says another article. A case study based DHL is featured and Intermec and Symbol Technologies are favourably mentioned. Dag Wohlen, a DHL representative, says the market has exploded for mobile support within logistics. Finally, I say.
Leveraging the Platform
Microsoft has a proven track record in leveraging its platform when pursuing new markets. One of Microsoft's strong cards that are not played yet is the .NET platform. Only recently were Pocket PCs and Smartphones included in the .NET family of products and we have yet to see when and how Microsoft will leverage this tangible benefit. Millions of Visual Studio .NET developers are out there. Target them.
That is a warm headline preceding an article about Microsoft's new WiFi initiative, called "Microsoft Wireless Provisioning System". The aim is to make public wireless hot spots easier to offer and more easily available. All in all I think that "Welcome, Microsoft" is a relevant headline to the combined telecom related material in the latest issue of Computer Sweden, which is a good way to end this week. I only wish things could move a bit faster.