Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

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.

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TOPICS: Mobility, CXO, Microsoft
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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 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.

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29 comments
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  • Well Jason, you can NOT make a silk purse out of a pigs ear.

    They need to go back to the drawing board and ditch the failed music player OS, and the failed Windows mobile. But, in any case, it is way, way, too late.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

      @DonnieBoy
      Really, how do you say Windows Mobile failed? They are being sold last time when I checked.
      Ram U
      • And if it wasn't for WM, Apple wouldn't have had anyone to copy

        @Rama.NET
        Quite frankly, nor would Google.
        NonZealot
      • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

        Let's see... MS canceled the one "modern" mobile platform that was for sale, they abandoned the one "ancient" mobile platform that is still for sale along with its partners and customers, so that leaves the "vaporware" platform which has been delayed numerous time but is now promised in 5-6 months. Do I have that right? Sounds like failure to me, but there is a smidgen of hope I suppose as long as enough 3rd party developers take Microsoft's cash to port their apps to it.
        rynning
    • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

      @DonnieBoy

      Just like it was way, way too late for a phone with an OS made by a search engine company?

      If it's good enough, it will succeed.
      NameRedacted
  • Another thing Jason, they are trying to BUY their way in, not INNOVATE

    their way in. That will not work very well against Apple and Google.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

      @DonnieBoy
      CrazyBoy stop your FUD. Do you think if you post multiple times at the root of the thread, it would get a lot of attention? No way. Everyone knows here that you know very little. Huh, I sometimes like MarketAnalyst posts much better than you.
      --Ram--
      Ram U
  • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

    Microsoft is perfectly focused on mobile. The Kin was kind of a testing ground to see what people thought of a Windows Phone 7 preview. The UI was great, the social medial capabilities were great as well. What killed the Kin was Verizon, not Microsoft. Its hard to believe that just about every ZDNet blogger got this one simple concept wrong. I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing what Microsoft has planned for Phone 7. Its going to be a mobile developers dream come true. What we need to do from this point forward is encourage Microsoft not to take crap from Verizon like they did with the Kin and $30 data plan. Feature phones shouldn't be that costly. But now with Microsoft focusing on the smart phones its acceptable.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Loverboy: There are lots of other carriers to choose from, and HOW could MS

      be SOOO stupid as to accept the Verizon terms????? Could it be that nobody including Verizon wanted the phone, and MS had to pay huge sums up front and accept very high plan costs?
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

        @DonnieBoy
        MS was not stupid, most likely Verizon paid them a hefty sum to be the only carrier for the Kin. We don't know the terms of the contract but what we do know is that Verizon turned around and jacked up the cost of the data plan for the Kin and that is what led to its demise.
        Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

        @Loverock Davidson<br><br>Once again Microsoft defended the pricing, stop putting all blame on Verizon:<br><br>Greg Sullivan (senior product manager for Microsoft's mobile communications unit)<br><br><b>"Sullivan is confident that critics of the pricing will come around once they realize the value they're getting with the combination of a strong focus on social networking and the convenience of full cloud backup."</b>
        http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-and-verizon-defend-kin
        dave95.
      • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

        @Dave95
        Of course he has to say that after the deal was already done and Verizon put something in their contract saying that's the way it is. Also, that is just one exec and I'm sure he doesn't speak for everyone at Microsoft. So yes the blame is still on Verizon. Thanks for trying.
        Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

        @Loverock Davidson

        You're shilling pretty hard there!

        So the 'senior product manager for Microsoft's mobile communications unit' doesn't speak for MS, and their mobile business?
        dave95.
  • Such Wisdom!

    In telling Microsoft to do exactly what they've already done!

    Microsoft HAS narrowed their focus by killing off KIN. You're a few days late with that advice.

    Microsoft fell behind in the mobile sector in order to rebuild. They've written off old Windows Mobile so they could focus on making WP7 the best mobile platform we've ever seen!

    WP7 DOES have the best Mobile Outlook the world has ever seen. They've already released demo videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHN0vNHyDlw&feature=player_embedded

    WP7 has amazing Mobile Office features-- including directly editing Office attachments in your email! They also have Sharepoint integration so you can connect to corporate intranets. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBMBQNOHzGc&feature=player_embedded

    http://www.mobiletechworld.com/2010/06/09/in-depth-look-at-office-exchange-and-sharepoint-on-windows-phone-7/

    Jason, WP7 will be everything you are asking for-- and much more.
    ericesque
    • Being forced to cancel a failed phone because it did NOT sell is hardly a

      sign that Microsoft has learned anything or is focusing any better. They continue to throw their money around, but fail to innovate.
      DonnieBoy
      • Sorry to burst your bubble Donnie

        @DonnieBoy
        But watching any of the demos of Windows Phone 7 make it clear as day that Microsoft has done something incredibly innovative. They have a beautiful and unique OS, a platform with scores and scores of developers already familiar with the tools and languages, and the maturity to develop a winning strategy to rebirth their mobile platform-- just as they did with Window 7 after the Vista debacle.

        Between Android and Window Phone 7, iPhone is sunk in 18 months and there's not a damn thing Jobs can do about it. Expect a barrage of frivolous law suits from Cupertino in a last ditch effort to avoid slipping into irrelevance. It won't be enough.
        ericesque
      • ericesque: Sorry to burst your bubble, BUT, Windows Mobile is a long way

        from launch, and MS having millions to produce videos does not say anything about the product. The Kin has showed that nobody wants Microsoft phones.
        DonnieBoy
      • October is not a long way off

        @DonnieBoy
        Microsoft has confirmed that WP7 handsets launch in October and we already know of five launch partners for handsets.

        The only thing that the KIN proved is that nobody wants a high end feature phone with a smartphone data plan attached.

        In 4 months everybody will want a Microsoft phone.
        ericesque
      • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

        @DonnieBoy
        >>ericesque: Sorry to burst your bubble, BUT, Windows Mobile is a long way from launch, and MS having millions to produce videos does not say anything about the product. The Kin has showed that nobody wants Microsoft phones.

        My guess is you have never ever watched those videos. Those videos show the real device, not the emulators. If you don't know anything it, please STFU.
        Ram U
    • RE: Microsoft: Your Mobile Focus Needs More Focus

      @ericesque

      Still plenty of time for MS to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. MS has lost the innovation gene and needs to build on what they have. Dumping all the existing WM5-6 users is not the way to build on their existing installed base.....which is not trivial.
      mryanaz