AmphibiousRSS Feed

Writings about the business of design and strategy.

Windows Phone 7 Marks a 180 Degree About-Face for Microsoft

Recently I wrote about why Google needed to take control of both hardware and OS for Android with the Nexus One. Others making hardware on top of Android had just not been able to create the quality of user experience that Google wanted, and, as the old saying goes, if you want something done right you have to do it yourself.

An interesting article on Gizmodo makes the same argument about Microsoft and Windows Phone 7:

This level of involvement is a radical break for Microsoft. It's them admitting that the old way wasn't good enough. That it was simply broken. That their partners effectively can't be trusted. They have to be told exactly what to do by Microsoft, like goddamn children. It's Microsoft finally saying, "While we can't make our own hardware"—since phones are a mega-category, that could limit growth and once again piss off partners—"we're serious about the software." Coming from Microsoft? That's huge.

It's a necessary step, because Microsoft's position in mobile is way different from its position in desktops, way different from the position it expected to be in. They're not the dominant OS. They don't lord over a vast ecosystem, commanding 90 percent of the smartphones on the planet. They're just another competitor. Meaning they have to be different, and compelling, in a much different way than if their expectations had played out. If Microsoft was in the same position in mobile as they are on the desktop, do you think they'd be shitcanning the entirety of their mobile platform? Nope. They'd be expanding the ecosystem, working to make it more ubiquitous, more entrenched. Not a breath of fresh, rainbow-colored air.

The article goes on to note that Google strangely stepped into the same old-school Microsoft mindset and didn't seem to recognize where it would lead:

What's amusing is that, despite the Windows Mobile model clearly not working that well, Google came in with Android and applied basically the same strategy, except Android's actually free to vendors—and if they agree to certain conditions, they can include Google's applications and be branded as "Google" phones. Not surprisingly, the same strategy's leading to the same outcome—some people do awesome things, like the Hero. Some people commit atrocities. Some software works on some Android phones and not on others. Fragmentation amok.

Read more >

AVP of Marketing Strategy Adam Richardson is the author of Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems are its Greatest Advantage. His book is the manual for leaders looking for clarity about the emerging challenges facing their businesses. You can follow Adam on Twitter @richardsona.