Microsoft offers no reasons for discontinuation of two Dynamics mobile products

Microsoft officials notified the company's partners on September 1 that Microsoft is discontinuing the mobile versions of its Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV ERP products. The mobile version of Dynamics CRM is not affected.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft officials notified the company's partners on September 1 that Microsoft is discontinuing the mobile versions of its Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV ERP products.

(Word of the move trickled out broadly last Friday, via a report from IDG News Service.)

What is still not clear is why Microsoft officials made the decision to phase out the two products. I asked why Microsoft decided to discontinue the mobile clients for the Dynamics products, but received an answer from a spokesperson that elaborated on the "when," but omitted the "why." Here's the statement:

"As you may know now, the discontinuation of Microsoft Dynamics Mobile only affected Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV. No future updates to the Microsoft Dynamics Mobile solutions for Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV will be provided and consequently, from August 31, 2010 on, it will no longer be possible to purchase Microsoft Dynamics Mobile. To be clear, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is NOT affected by any of these changes.

"The discontinuation of Microsoft Dynamics Mobile for Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV was announced to partners on September 1, 2009. Microsoft Dynamics Mobile-Server Components as well as Microsoft Dynamics Mobile-Device Components will be removed from PartnerSource and other download sites on August 31, 2010, thus providing partners with a notice period of one year before the solution will no longer be available for them to deliver to customers. Partners also provide existing mobile solutions for Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV, and by clarifying Microsoft’s role in delivering mobile solutions moving forward, the company is providing an opportunity for partners to extend their mobile offerings for customers."

The spokesperson also noted that Microsoft is still planning to provide support and maintenance for the discontinued products through January 14, 2014.

Microsoft posted a two-sentence acknowledgment of its plans to discontinue the two mobile Dynamics offerings on the Dynamics Mobile Team blog on September 24. There was no information about the reason for the decision. (Not even a "cost-cutting's to blame" disclaimer.)

Brandon George, Senior Technical Architect with Microsoft partner Sunrise Technologies (and author of a blog that covers Microsoft's Dynamics moves), had some educated guesses of his own as to why the Softies may have decided to pull the plug. His list:

"1.) Most mobile applications for Dynamics AX are either running third party developed solutions or fully customized to the customer needs Mobile UI to DAX processes and business logic.

"2.) There is a purchase a foot, that will lead to easier development of mobile applications for accessing and working with X++ busienss logic, and the DAX controlled data model.

"3.) Microsoft is wanting their partners to continue to be the source for such developments and vertical offerings, and they want to provide, as usual the platform in which those vertical offerings are developed and delivered on."

Anyone else have any guesses to share about what's going on with Microsoft's mobile ERP strategy?

Update: It's sounding like George's suggested Reason No. 3 might be behind Microsoft's plan to discontinue its two mobile ERP products. The aforementioned spokesperson just sent the following update:

"Microsoft believes the most effective mobile solutions will be those that meet specific business and industry needs and can be constantly developed to keep up with changing market conditions. The  close contact of Microsoft partners to the market and their unique area of expertise allow them to tailor mobile solutions to the specific needs of their customers. With partner-built mobile solutions, businesses can benefit from the core functionality in Microsoft Dynamics, enhanced by the mobile expertise of local partners. Due to the broad availability of such partner-developed mobile solutions, Microsoft made a strategic decision to discontinue the current development of Microsoft Dynamics Mobile."

In other (fewer) words: Microsoft decided to drop the products to alleviate conflict with its channel. If I get any more from the company on this, I'll update this post again.

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