A recently conducted survey by Markitecture discussed here at Mobility Today provided some interesting insight into the smartphone wars that are about to begin (or in some cases are already at large). In actual fact the results that 6% of those surveyed would buy an iPhone was imho not a surprise and I’m not sure that this necessarily directly correlates to market share. If you follow the link through to the source at MacWorld there is an arrogant quote by Steve Ballmer about iPhone not getting market share – given how widely Microsoft missed the web boat, can they really afford to be this arrogant in another emerging market.
What I find interesting is that there is an assumption that these phones all play in the same market. There has never been any secret that Windows Mobile devices are focused on the enterprise market where synchronisation of email, calendar and contacts are essential. Further they have a well established set of developer tools and apis that can be used to build rich applications, that can be deployed within an organisation to better equip their mobile staff.
The question remains as to where the other players fit. In the case of Blackberry it is again easy as it is almost entirely enterprise customers. Nokia and Motorola have for the most part been focused on the consumer space but increasingly we are seeing devices, such as those running Symbian S60 or Windows Mobile, that are capable of being used in the enterprise. Lastly the iPhone – well given the distinct lack of developer apis or programming model it can hardly be considered a true smartphone but it does have the standard POOM feature set for managing contacts, calendar and email so it could be used within the enterprise. It appears from the marketing campaigns by Apple that they are going for consumer buy-in which they are hoping will put pressure on the enterprise market for adoption.
Going back to the post at Mobility Today the first comment struck me as it is basically flaming Microsoft for poor product quality. Windows Mobile is similar in a number of ways to any other version of Windows – Microsoft creates the operating system, then hardware manufacturers have to build appropriate drivers/customisations to suit their hardware. In the case of Windows Mobile this often leads to the introduction of bugs (such as this issue with the notification broker on the JasJar) which unfortunately reflects poorly on the entire platform.
Further Microsoft have had their own set of ongoing issues relating to synchronisation with/through the desktop – you would have though after years of negative feedback on ActiveSync they would think to invest the time/resources to getting it right. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have acknowledged that there is still an issue, and to make matters worse they keep removing features! First they removed synchronisation via ethernet as it was a security risk (why not just fix the issue!) and now with the Windows Mobile Device Center they seem to have removed even more features. Being a developer using Vista I am yet to be able to get the emulator to consistently connect via WMDC so that I can debug my application without using a real device.
Having said all this, the Windows Mobile platform rocks in terms of being a developer platform. The extent of the managed apis, the .NET Compact Framework, Sql Server Compact Edition (and synchronisation via RDA or Merge Replication) and other developer frameworks (the Mobile Client Software Factory and the Smart Device Framework) make it an awesome platform for building occasionally connected rich applications!