Waiting for WinMo
Windows Mobile’s long march into irrelevance continues apace with no apparent change in tack. Certainly, the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5 in September–a superficial, stop-gap point release–did little to convince anyone that Microsoft (MSFT) will ever deliver on its promise of a “modern” mobile operating system.
And now, with the official release of Windows Mobile 7 reportedly delayed until late 2010, you’ve got to wonder if the company hasn’t already blown its last chance at a comeback in the mobile space. As Strategic News Service analyst Mark Anderson recently told the New York Times, “It’s time to declare Microsoft a loser in phones. Just get out of Dodge.”
That’s a contentious argument and one to which Microsoft will likely pay little attention. Though perhaps it should, because according to the latest figures from IDC as reported by Needham analyst Charlie Wolf, the company’s mobile business is collapsing. Windows Mobile’s share of the smartphone market fell to 9.6 percent in September from 13.4 percent a year ago. That’s about a 25 percent year-over-year decline.
In the United States, marketshare for the OS has fallen from 32.1 percent in March 2007 to just 13.1 percent in September 2009. In Western Europe, it fell from 18.5 percent to 7.0 percent during the same period. Windows Mobile fared a bit better in Latin America and the Asia Pacific, but not enough to claim a commanding market share in either region.
A grim situation, and with Windows Mobile licensees fast losing interest in the OS, it’s hard to see it changing much anytime soon. Microsoft likes to claim that it has some 30 WinMo licensees. And it does, but of those 30, two–HTC and Samsung–built 65.4 percent of the Windows Mobile devices shipped in September.
This trend is only worsening as new platforms gain traction in the market. “Many of Microsoft’s major licensees are either partially or completely abandoning ship,” Wolf explains. “Among them are Palm, which is now focused exclusively on its WebOS platform, as well as HTC, Motorola and Samsung, which have shifted their development efforts to the Android platform.”
Obviously, this doesn’t bode well for Windows Mobile 6.5 or 7.0–whenever Microsoft gets around to shipping it. Maybe it really is time to get out of Dodge.