Microsoft has a lot riding on Windows Phone 7 series platform, and the company is willing to throw millions of dollars at the project to try to make it work.
Maybe as much as $400 million on marketing alone. That's a massive chunk of change. Sure, it's peanuts for a corporation like Microsoft, but combine this with the billion dollar bonfire that was called Kin. Investors much be getting a little concerned as to how much money Microsoft has bet on being able to break into the mobile market and stand up to the big boys. After all, the Kin project didn't die, it imploded spectacularly after only two months. Just how bad does a project have to be to be terminated that quickly?
Can cash, millions of dollars of it, help Microsoft become relevant in a market already dominated by big names such as the iPhone, Android and Blackberry?
Well, cash can make a difference. $400 million on marketing would certainly get people talking about Windows Phone 7. But marketing alone can only go so far. Microsoft made valiant, but ultimately futile, attempts to convince PC buyers that Vista was a good operating system, and that failed miserably.
Cash also helps Microsoft bring developers on board. But even there, cash only goes so far. There has to be an element of forward momentum. If Windows Phone 7 doesn't catch on fast, developers will go to the more lucrative platforms. This again is a problem for Microsoft. While Apple had the time and space to build the iPhone platform slowly (remember, there was no App Store and native apps when the iPhone was first released), Windows Phone 7 has to be feature complete, complete with apps and a flourishing development community right from day 1. If not, the platform will look lacking next to the competition.
It is possible for Microsoft to carve a successful niche for itself in the smartphone market without having to directly compete with any current players - after all, it's a booming market. And Microsoft has been doing a few things right lately. Windows 7 is a huge hit, and Xbox, once seen as a huge cash sinkhole, is now profitable and the fastest selling console in the US. Microsoft can indeed hit home runs ...
... but Kin also reminds us how it can faceplant spectacularly.
So ... Windows Phone 7 ... hit or miss?
[UPDATE: Microsoft-watcher Mary Jo Foley thinks that a billion dollars over the first year is far too low an estimate for how much Microsoft will spend on promoting and bringing to market.]