Sheldon PintoDec 03, 2015 17:08:42 IST
Former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer had a lot to tell Bloomberg in a recent interview. But among other things, like comments about how the company should report its cloud numbers, he did make one striking statement. It was about how current CEO, Satya Nadella's plans, about coaxing developers to build Windows apps to work on Windows 10 phones, will not work. Instead, Ballmer stated that Microsoft should focus on enabling Android apps to run on Windows phones, a move that will help fill in the large app gap that has been growing over the years.
Ballmer could be right. And Microsoft should take his opinions seriously because he is after all, the company's largest individual stakeholder. Still then, that idea would ruin the Windows 10 experience that Microsoft is working on, one that focuses on building a consistent UI across all device categories.
BlackBerry tried Android apps with its BlackBerry 10 OS and so far it has not been able to sell too many smartphones. In fact, BlackBerry's best bet appears to be adopting Android completely in the form of its Priv smartphone. And if that fails as well, CEO John Chen has confirmed that he would shut down the smartphone business entirely.
And while Satya Nadella has made it pretty clear that his company will be building devices just for its fans, it still makes little sense to sell off a few (Windows Phone's current market share is in single digits) flagship Lumia smartphones with no profits at all.
Microsoft's best bet is not with building smartphones. They lost that race, not before Microsoft's recent strategy change, but shortly after Windows Phone launched. Developers were not interested back then, and they never will be. In fact, The Verge's Tom Warren also pointed out how more and more app developers are abandoning the Windows Phone platform. Clearly, app developers making efforts to build Universal apps, is a distant dream at best.
Waiting another year for the seeds of Project Astoria (porting Android apps to Universal Windows apps) and Project Islandwood (porting iOS apps to Universal Windows apps) to bloom, is another classic example of Microsoft's wasted efforts after five long and unsuccessful years.
The IDC's recent Worldwide Smartphone OS Market Share Chart (above) clearly shows Windows Phone's fall as an operating system. In fact Microsoft's Windows Phone OS share dropped from 3.1 percent in 2012 Q2 to 2.6 percent in 2015 Q2. There's only so much consumers are willing to wait and watch, and Microsoft with Windows Phone passed that point a long time ago.
So what is Microsoft's best bet? Well, it's building software and its recent interest in hardware. Software is the one single area that Microsoft started off with, excelled at and still seems to be doing a fine job. Microsoft has some fine services in the form of its Office offerings and very few seem to be complaining about it in its newest version. Microsoft even builds great apps for iOS and Android and its recent efforts to bring Cortana to both platforms seems better when compared to wasting its time and efforts on Windows 10 Mobile for phones.
Coming to hardware, the Surface Pro tablet series is proof of this. And its Surface Book is a clear indicator or Microsoft's interest in building great hardware that built from the ground up for Windows 10, one that also seems to have a lot of potential.
Building smartphones or smartphone software is not their thing it never was, Nokia ruled them in the past and now we have Apple and Google taking over in the present. The world does not need a Surface phone with a broken app ecosystem (or Android apps for that matter), it needs a better Windows PC; and for now Windows 10 is doing just that. It's just that Microsoft needs to focus on one platform, and give it the right mix of consistency and user friendliness (since the apps are already there). In short, Windows just needs a little more love.
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