Windows Mobile 7 can come none too soon for Microsoft, based on the latest mobile market-share data.
Microsoft doesn't make a cell phone. Like it does in the PC market, it relies on OEMs to preload its operating system. If you combine all of the cell carriers who offer Windows Mobile, Microsoft still fell behind Apple, in terms of cell-phone share in the fourth quarter of 2007. That's according to the market watchers at Canalys.
In the fourth calendar quarter of 2007, with 6.5 percent share, Apple pulled into third place (behind Nokia and RIM) in the worldwide "smart mobile device" market, Canalys said. In the U.S., Apple also hit the big-time, according to Canalys:
"Canalys estimates that Apple took 28% share of the fast growing US converged device market in Q4 2007, behind RIM’s 41%, but a long way ahead of third placed Palm on 9%. This was also enough to put Apple ahead of all Windows Mobile device vendors combined, whose share was 21% in the quarter according to Canalys figures."
Windows Mobile 7, according to the latest information out there, doesn't sound like it will be done until 2009. It typically takes Microsoft's handset partners six-plus months to start preloading the latest version of the mobile OS on new phones, which depending on when in 2009 Windows Mobile 7 is released to manufacturing, could mean late 2009 or even 2010 availability.
Will Windows Mobile 6.1, expected this year, along with new Windows Live Mobile services in the pipeline, be enough to help Microsoft hold its own here? I'm skeptical.