Microsoft's Dropped Call

Reasons to feel bearish about Microsoft (MSFT) aren’t hard to find. But it’s the software giant’s diminishing profile in the mobile world that is the talk of Silicon Valley right now.

The explosion of mobile applications on devices like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and Motorola’s (MOT) Droid presages far-reaching changes in consumer behavior. Google (GOOG) gets that. Aside from helping develop the Android mobile operating system, the company plans to buy mobile ad firm AdMob. And now it is working on plans to sell its own phone.

It’s a different story at Microsoft. Windows Mobile’s share of the global smartphone operating-system market fell to 7.9 percent in the third quarter from 11.1 percent a year earlier, Gartner estimates. Also losing ground was Nokia’s (NOK) Symbian. In contrast, both Apple and BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion (RIMM) boosted their shares, while Android grabbed 3.5 percent from zero a year earlier. That will likely increase given the popularity of Motorola’s new Droid phone.

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