It must be nerve-wracking to be an exec at a mobile tech company these days. Many days it must seem like you can't do anything right with the press and pundits over-analyzing every little thing you do.
To be fair we should give credit where credit is due, so here's what the major players in mobile tech are getting right. These four companies don't always follow the expected path, but here's what they are doing that I like.
While the schizophrenic nature of Windows 8 is hard for analysts to fully grasp, once Microsoft decided to make the next Windows handle every device type at least it didn't do it halfway.
The touch-centric OS will power tablets, desktops, handhelds and notebooks. Many, myself include, are expressing doubt about this course of action, but to Microsoft's credit having chosen that path it is going all-in with it.
The risk is that Windows 8, in trying to be a one-OS-fits-all platform, may suffer the fate of most jack-of-all-trades and not excel at any one of them. Microsoft has the talent and resources to avoid that if possible and at least it is being firm in the course it has laid.
Windows 8 could be the biggest thing Microsoft has ever produced and while it is a big gamble, shaking up the way things work may have the biggest impact on mobile tech since the iPhone.
Spurring OEMs by producing its own Surface tablets is a brilliant move by Microsoft. The OEMs have coasted on Microsoft's OS far too long, and thrown Window's reputation under the bus along the way. It's time OEMs learn they need to compete properly even if the competition is Microsoft itself.
Could a line of Surface Windows Phones be in the works? It couldn't hurt to control the whole product.
Google has impacted the mobile space more than any company with the success of Android. The smartphone OS released with a Wild West atmosphere has seen the platform grow huge and quickly.
That doesn't mean Google can sit around though, and taking control of its own destiny with the Nexus 7 tablet is what the platform needed. Android tablets haven't set the world on fire and taking the reins lets Google shake up the OEMs to stimulate innovation.
Don't be surprised if Google takes the Nexus 7 approach back to the smartphone sector to have the same effect. While previous Nexus phones have been available for some time, maybe we'll see Google get serious about phones. Perhaps a $99 Google phone might be in the future to get OEMs moving in the right direction.
It's not clear how Google will leverage Motorola Mobility in the long term. Perhaps we may see Google take its platform firmly in hand and produce its own products totally in house.
You rarely see Research in Motion (RIM) mentioned without the term "beleaguered", and it certainly fits. In spite of all its troubles, RIM has refused to rush BlackBerry 10 to market, and that's a good thing.
Make no mistake, the next version of the BlackBerry will make or break the company so the urge to get it released must be tremendous. Kudos to RIM for fighting that urge and for taking the time to get BlackBerry 10 right.
I'm not sure how long the company can keep things going, but it has zero chance if BlackBerry 10 isn't the best thing the company has ever done. Get it right and then get it out, RIM.
It's hard to find anything Apple isn't doing right, based on the financial situation of the company. Once you are on the top of the heap, the pressure increases to hit a home run with everything you do and that's the position Apple now occupies.
The next iPhone is due shortly, and Apple must be busy getting it ready for release. This could be the most important release in Apple's history, and no doubt the company is aware of this.
The rumors of a smaller iPad are everywhere, and it looks like we will see one soon. If that's true, kudos to Apple to put aside previous disdain for the form factor to do it. This could be as big as the iPad has been for the company if it's done properly.