CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

Summary: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the keynote stage last night at the CES and reports of his speech are less than inspiring. The fact is the folks in Redmond have lost their mobile mojo.

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TOPICS: Microsoft, Mobility
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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the keynote stage last night at the CES and reports of his speech are less than inspiring. Sam Diaz thinks it's time to give the CES kickoff keynote to another company, given Microsoft's inability to inspire attendees of the biggest geekfest in the U.S. Mary Jo Foley believes the most important thing about Ballmer's keynote is what he didn't say, and that's not really the purpose of a big company keynote address. Both of my colleagues are correct that Microsoft is no longer inspiring those who follow the company's mobile offerings; the fact is the folks in Redmond have lost their mobile mojo.

The company had plenty of mojo in the mobile space in years past, and desperately needs to recapture it. It's never been known for having the flash (pun intended) or panache of Apple's mobile tech demonstrations, but over the years Microsoft has repeatedly pushed the envelope with mobile technology that captures the imagination of enthusiasts and consumers alike. It needs to get its mobile mojo back, and soon.

Remember the Handheld PC? This little clamshell computer wasn't sexy or flashy, but it was innovative considering how far ahead of the competition it was at the time. These handheld gadgets put an amazing amount of computing power in the hands of people for the first time. I ran into someone in a coffee shop a year ago who was still using one of these HPCs to report in to the head office from the field. The benefits stood the test of time in real-world use, something not often seen in the mobile space.

Windows Mobile was as good as anything on the market back when Microsoft first released it. The PDAs and later smartphones that ran Windows Mobile were pushing the envelope for mobile devices, which is why WinMo dominated the market for so long. That's the sort of innovation we need to see from Microsoft to help it return to keynote greatness.

The last truly innovative push made by Microsoft in the mobile space was the Origami handheld computer. It was sidelined by the hardware of the time, but it was unique and excited folks as Microsoft products hadn't done in a while. The viral video of the Origami leaked prior to its launch created a huge buzz of interest in both enthusiasts and regular consumers alike. That's mobile mojo at work. It didn't help that Microsoft defused its own buzz and changed the product name to the Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC). Not quite as sexy as Origami.

The ill-fated Microsoft Courier handheld device had the same mojo, and got a lot of press coverage because it raised the bar in the mobile space. It was a gadget unlike any other in the market or in concept, and most importantly it excited people. So Microsoft killed it off before making it a real project. It killed its own mojo.

The days of me-too products in the mobile space are over, the innovators will be the ones who capture our attention and our dollars. The hardware and software is good enough to make products that capture our imagination as never before, and this is what Microsoft desperately needs to produce. Only this will get its mobile mojo back.

Topics: Microsoft, Mobility

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  • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

    The best phone at the moment is WP7, so can't really see your point.
    tonymcs@...
    • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

      @tonymcs@... He just doesn't like the fact that Microsoft has been unwilling to share their future roadmap for WP7. I guess its acceptable for Apple to play that game, but not Microsoft. I wouldn't trade my HTC HD7 for anything else available. It's definitely a major step forward in terms of mobile usability.
      Tiggster
      • Yes, Microsoft enthusiasts are buying WP7 phones, but, nobody else.

        The interface is ugly and dorky and not functional.
        DonnieBoy
      • DonnieBoy, I know alot of people who say the same of Android phones

        they call it a "cheap knockoff" of the iPhone.
        2 have bought the the WP7 for the reasons opposite of what you call it, or they bought an iPhone.

        Funny, it's starting to sound like people are looking at Android as a "me-too" kind of OS...
        John Zern
      • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

        @Donnie ... Where HAVE you been? I've been missing your usual toilet-bowl fanaticism.

        Regarding WP7 UI ... use one for a day and then tell me you find the Android/iOS UI more functional usable and visually pleasing.
        bitcrazed
      • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

        @DonnieBoyo
        Did you really use one? until then please STFU.
        Ram U
      • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

        @Tiggster I absolutely love Android but I got to play with a WP7 phone for about 30 minutes at work. And I was extremely impressed. The attention to detail that Microsoft put into the interface is beautiful. Microsoft has a winner. They just need to get people to give them a chance.
        StupidTechZealots-23432415690276115908309621553360
    • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

      @tonymcs@... WP7 is a good move but not capturing mainstream consumer attention yet. MS is a company capable of shaking things up, but rarely does so. It needs to do that now.
      JamesKendrick
      • Still very few buying WP7 phones, Microsoft is STILL trying to shoehorn

        Windows 7 into tablets. Does not look good for Microsoft on the mobile front in 2011.
        DonnieBoy
      • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

        @JamesKendrick

        Microsoft's commercials for WP7 devices have been horrible. I had no intention of getting one until I finally watched a good YouTube overview. They desperately need to get commercials out that let you see more of how it works. Everyone knows icons because that's all there's been with iPhone and Android. Tiles are great once you try them.
        Admin71
      • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

        @JamesKendrick

        I have moved on to WP7 and don't plan on going back to android. For the life of me, I can't figure out why Microsoft is not putting this platform on 7 inch tablets. The games alone would be killer.
        retnep
      • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

        @JamesKendrick

        Well I would say they just captured the professional and commercial display and tabletop attention with Surface 2.0. They just released Kinect which has no real competitors and their OS is used to run over 90% of the planet.

        Kinect and Xbox seems to have captured mainstream consumer attention and it certainly caught mine. Bought my first console because of it and didn't seriously think there was a chance of seeing this type of consumer tech for another 5-10 years.

        WP7 is a better phone OS than anything out there and it has the solid support of MS. The only thing anyone in the market for a smartphone needs to do is use one. You may want MS to advertise like "revolutionary" Apple and promote iToys as fashion accessories, but the real takeup of WP7 will be driven by those using Windows PCs that want easy integration - and isn't that almost everyone? (ZDNet posters excluded).
        tonymcs@...
    • The only ones that like the dorky WP7 interface are Windows dildos.

      For phones, the masses are buying iPhone and Android. For tablets, iPad is the only game for now, and Android with the only shot of gaining market share against iPad. For tablets, MS is STILL trying to shoehorn in a desktop OS.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

        @DonnieBoy

        The mere fact that Windows 7 fanboys accept sales of Windows 7 phones to OEM Carriers and aren't demanding the actual sales to consumers shows they are delusional.

        Why do they continue to support Ballmer and his lies?
        cyberslammer2
      • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

        @DonnieBoy & cyberslammer: You two should get a room.

        FWIW, I am sure you'll find WP7 sales figures in Microsoft's FY10Q2 financial report due soon, although judging the success of a new phone platform on 6 weeks of sales is hardly meaningful. First year sales will be far more enlightening.
        bitcrazed
      • bitcrazed, they allready share a room

        from what I've been told... ;)
        John Zern
    • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

      @tonymcs@...
      WOW SERIOUSLY?!!! You actually bought a win 7 phone??
      Hasam1991
      • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

        @Hasam1991

        No, I bought 4. You obviously haven't used one
        tonymcs@...
    • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

      @tonymcs@... Couldn't agree with you more... people are laughing at Microsoft right now because of their WP7 strategy but if you use one you stop laughing real fast. It is by far the most smooth, most entertaining, and most concise mobile OS available. I'm impatient like the next person. SoC is a very cool thing that I think many people have been waiting a long long time for. If there's one thing that is for sure, the next version of Windows is going to be very touch focused - I imagine they'll take cues from WP7 and implement them into future design.

      Personally I didn't like their tablet annoucement. The Asus looks interesting until you look at the battery life... 3-4 hours is pretty good but not enough... I wanted a SIM slot on the device so I can make it truly mobile.
      jessiethe3rd
  • RE: CES: Microsoft Needs Its Mobile Mojo Back

    They got their mojo back, ever heard of Microsoft Windows Phone 7? They are leaving the forsaken tablets up to the manufacturers so when the fad dies it won't be on their hands.
    Loverock Davidson