The smartphone and tablet industries have become either or worlds. The winners are Google’s Android OS smartphones and Apple’s iPhone. The former gets the marketshare award and the latter takes home much of the profits.
That’s also how the Windows PC and Mac wars went down, too. Linux carved out a small niche, but the big money goes to Apple. What about the growing list of mobile device also rans? Is Windows Phone Microsoft’s lost cause, relegated to a niche player somewhat like BlackBerry? Yes.
Late To The Party
Being late to the party does not always signify that a company is an also ran, or relegated to catch up status.
Apple didn’t invent the graphic user interface. It just made it popular. Apple didn’t invent the portable media player with the iPod, but it set the standard. Apple didn’t invent the smartphone, either.
But what do all major smartphones have in common these days? They all look like iPhones. What do modern tablets look like? Apple’s iPad. With each product Apple was late to the party but still managed to become the center of attention.
What can Microsoft do to get back in the mobile device game? Do what Apple did. Build a better product. Build a product that is so good, so competitively priced, so daring, delightful, and usable that smartphone customers will ditch their Android devices and iPhones and stand in line at a Microsoft Store.
And that’s the problem. The original iPhone and iPad were both revolutionary devices which worked better than the competition when they were introduced. Since then, the market for both has matured, and improvements in each device category are incremental, not revolutionary.
Revolution is what Apple does best. Microsoft has three claims to fame. Windows. Office. And losing money on failed ventures and attempts to diversify from the core business, including mobile devices.
The math remains the same. Microsoft’s mobile device effort may be a lost cause already, because now it’s more difficult to create a revolutionary device that is so compelling customers would be willing to ditch their current devices to own something from Microsoft.
Is Windows Phone Microsoft’s lost cause? Yes. And it will remain so until Microsoft can figure out a way to launch a revolution.