Last Thursday, Microsoft had it’s 2007 Financial Analyst Meeting. Even though I don’t own MSFT shares I’m always interested to see what they are doing from a embedded devices point of view since that’s primarily what our business deals with.
Basically, Windows Mobile is a key factor in Microsoft’s growth strategy and software and software innovation will help drive that growth. Robert Bach stated there is a lead over RIM in handset sales (no numbers given and I’m searching but if anyone knows please let me know 🙂 and they will sell over 20 million Windows Mobile phones this year. They are focusing on both the consumer and business markets but are making their phones so business users can use the same phone for personal use for example listening to music. They are also going to make a big push on building on the Windows Mobile brand using tradition and non-traditional advertising. They are working with OEMs to release new hardware devices and mobile operators to help push the Windows Mobile brand to both the consumer and business market.
In short Windows Mobile is not going away and I think we are in a good position to ride the growth wave. I have taken some of the transcripts from the meeting dealing with Windows Mobile and put them below so you don’t have to go read everything. They also have webcasts of the presentations available if you want to read or listen to the whole meeting. On a side note, back in May when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had a discussion at D5, they talk about the mobile phone being a big part of the next digital wave and again software innovation and not hardware will lead the way (see part 3 and beginning of part 4 here).
Bill Gates (source)
“The advance in the mobile devices is very exciting for us, because those have gone from being voice-only devices where software couldn’t add much value, to now far-richer devices. If you look at what we’re doing with Windows Mobile, what Apple is doing with the phone, it’s about software innovation. The way you interact with the phone, the kind of data presentation you want there, some portion of your office capabilities brought onto that phone—the phone is part of the mix. In fact, in the course of the day, this user-centric approach will have you go from your car where you want to interact with information, to your TV set, to perhaps a PC at home, PC at work, phone—you may even have multiple of these pocket-size devices that you use at various times. And those will be very rich. But your interest, your information, your schedule—all of those will follow you as it’s replicated through some sort of cloud-based capability. And so the opportunity for software on a wide range of devices is greater than ever before: unlimited storage, great-looking displays.”
Steve Ballmer (source)
“On the devices side, we need to embrace retail, hardware, hardware design where we need to do. The telecom industry, we’re embracing, and that’s essential for success with products like Windows Mobile, or our media room set-top box business. So we’re bringing the same kind of vision and tenacity that are in our DNA that drove us into the enterprise business, into consumer devices and online services.”
Robert Bach (source)
“Today we have a lead over RIM in handset sales. Obviously ours are sold through partners. This year we want to expand that lead. We will sell, or there will be sold, over 20 million Windows Mobile-based phone-enabled devices this year. We think that’s a significant sign of momentum in the platform. We’re getting the best designs from the hardware manufacturers, we’re getting great work from the operators to build services around our phones, and you’re going to see us continue to expand that over time.
You’re also going to see us start to focus a little bit more outside of what I would call the business space. Certainly our strength today is Windows Mobile phones used as a business tool. But the fact is people use their phones for their personal lives as well as their business lives, and it’s not like they have two or three phones that they switch depending on what they’re doing. And so we are expanding the lifestyle offerings in the Windows Mobile space that we have. You’ll see this in terms of the services we offer on top of Windows Mobile, the ability to integrate those services in a nice way — things we’re doing with MSN, with our mapping products, with our search product; and you’re going to see new form factors — I’ll show a couple of those just quickly in a moment –that really appeal more to a casual consumer or somebody who’s interested in an entertainment phone or something along those lines. So that whole expansion from our core into lifestyle is going to help fuel some of this growth.
The third thing we’re focused on, which is perhaps a little bit more technical, but we are now shipping phones based on the Windows Mobile 6 platforms. And this is a big step for us in terms of an experience for customers, because the platform is more secure, it’s more stable, it’s better performance, it’s better than battery, it is just a better fundamental system for phones to be built on. And our operators are taking advantage of that and we’re seeing great experiences coming on those phones. So that, as that starts to roll out and become more ubiquitous you’re going to see continued focus from us there. You’re also going to see us be able to build applications on top of that platform beyond what you might think of typical phone applications, things like CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Exchange applications and other mobile applications.
The final thing I’ll say here in Windows Mobile is we need to build the brand. We need people who are using a Windows Mobile phone to know they’re using a Windows Mobile phone, because when they get the next phone — and there is a high degree of turnover in this marketplace — we want them to go in and ask for a Windows Mobile phone. We want them to know that the capabilities they have come only with the Windows Mobile phone. And we’ve started over the past year doing that kind of advertising. You’re going to see more of it — some of it may not be what you think of as traditional advertising. There will be other types of marketing we can do to build that brand. We’re certainly working closely with our operators and with the handset manufacturers to enable that as well. And we think we can build that as a differentiating point for us in the future.
So let me just take a quick look, just show you a few phones. And the whole idea here is to just show you the diversity of what we bring out in Windows Mobile. The phone on the right there is an HTC Touch. That actually has a touch interface. You’ve got full QWERTY keyboards, you’ve got sliders, you have flip phones. What we find in the phone market is that people do want choice, because they use their phone for different things. Some people want an entertainment phone. Some people want a text-messaging e mail phone. Some people want a phone where it’s easy to dial. People want different sets of capabilities, and a bunch of people want a full QWERTY keyboard. And so we have to be able to provide the operating system to the operators and to the handset manufacturers that delivers that diversity, and still do it in a way where the handset designs are cool and where people look at it and say, “Wow, that’s a slick design.” And that’s what’s going to help us start to build that brand.”
Kevin Johnson (source)
[Watch the webcast. They go through a lot of Windows Mobile related things plus a demo with Live Search for Windows Mobile mainly geared towards consumer market.]