Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

Summary:Microsoft, stop worrying about the consumer space with your mobile strategy and focus your energies on what you do best: The Enterprise.

Microsoft, stop worrying about the consumer space with your mobile strategy and focus your energies on what you do best: The Enterprise.

Ah, Microsoft Kin. How we hardly knew ye. But it was the right decision, after all. The product had bad Feng-Shui.

I can't say that I am going to go out and spend money and go see the latest incarnation of "Karate Kid" but the supporting character in the film, Mr. Han (played by Jackie Chan) has a great signature line which I think Microsoft, the current weakling in the latest "Mobile Martial Arts" tournament should follow very carefully:

Your Focus Needs More Focus.

Okay, I won't ignore the fact that "Karate" is a Japanese martial art and the new film "focuses" on Kung Fu and takes place entirely in China, but let's not lose the gist of what the lovable Mr. Han has to say.

Microsoft has been completely unfocused when it has come to its mobile strategy over the past five years. It has allowed its competitors, Apple and Google, to completely leapfrog the company in technology and effectively eradicate any market share and Qi (pronounced "Chi") it had with the consumer space.

The Kin was a last-ditch effort to try to appeal to a younger generation of mobile product consumers, by re-purposing what was left of Danger Inc. and trying to shove it into a cute, social networking package.

It didn't work.

Microsoft, do you not understand what you do well? Have you been neglecting your true self? Do you truly not know where your focus is?

Microsoft, your focus should be the Enterprise, not the Consumer. Your developers and product managers shouldn't need to crack open a fortune cookie from your late-night Chinese take out to understand this. The Kin was a disaster. Now get your egg foo young off of your face and get back to work.

Also Read: Microsoft makes the business case for Windows Phone 7 (Mary-Jo Foley)

Moving the Kin people into the Windows Phone 7 group is a good start. But unless you want to have a repeat performance, I suggest you really think about who exactly your first Windows 7 phone customers really are.

Microsoft, what you do well is Enterprise messaging. You lead the market in this space with Exchange, and also have a huge presence with Sharepoint as well as Microsoft Office. These are key applications that virtually every corporation that I can think of relies on.

And yet, this is a market in the mobile space you were more than happy to cede to Research In Motion. Don't you think this was odd behavior? For an aggressive, extremely successful software company such as yourself?

You have one opportunity with Windows 7 phone here, because currently RIM is in a moment of weakness -- it's been busy fighting the consumer mobile battle with Apple and Google, as it is losing ground to those two giants.

RIM's operating system is long in the tooth, with an outdated mobile browser, which they have been working diligently on updating after their Torch Mobile purchase a year ago. Additionally, its highly centralized NOC has frequently been subject to multi-hour outages over the past few years which have enraged many a large organization dependent on mobile messaging.

Additionally, RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server has become prohibitively expensive for large organizations to deploy, causing organizations to cut back on which employees can use BlackBerries. They've been moving increasingly to a "Bring your own device" model, so that consumer smartphones such as Androids and iPhones can talk to Exchange messaging.

Don't you guys get it? Enterprises want Microsoft-supported devices for Enterprise messaging with the ability to talk to their Microsoft infrastructure running their Microsoft apps. And you don't have a single compelling product on the market like that which will allow them to do it.

Microsoft, make Windows 7 Mobile the BlackBerry-killer. Give it the best Mobile Outlook the world has ever seen, with integration with business social networking like LinkedIn, with perfect Microsoft Office compatibility and connectivity to corporate Sharepoint-based intranets.

And make the server-side integration inexpensive. With redundant back-end datacenters that won't go down, like the T-Mobile Chernobyl that many people haven't forgotten about.

Forget about the other guys. Setting your sights on the consumer space would just be putting good money after bad. But RIM? If I may quote Shao Kahn from Mortal Kombat ...

FINISH HIM.

Should Microsoft abandon the consumer mobile space and set its sights directly on the Enterprise? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Mobility, CXO, Microsoft

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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