Microsoft hasn’t done things by halves with the launch of Windows Phone 7 operating system this week – 60 operator launches worldwide, four manufacturers announcing devices and a reported marketing budget of £250m.
Critics might argue that it’s too late to catch Apple, RIM, Symbian (still the market leader by a mile) and the runaway Android, but they can’t say Microsoft is putting too little behind the launch.
There is no question that Microsoft has to invest and promote Windows Phone
7 heavily if it is going to claw back lost market share. It faces a real challenge here as the company has a poor reputation to overcome in the mobile space in the minds of users.
Few customers buy mobiles based on the virtues of their operating systems (yet), so much will depend on the appeal of the hardware vendors using the OS and the pricing set by the operators. Then it will all be down to how good the user experience is for customers as to whether Windows Phone 7 takes off.
So, the launch is of huge significance for the company, but is it really the last chance for Microsoft, as some claim?
The answer is almost certainly not. The future of the internet, data, TV, games, music and enterprise is all tied into being able to access services on the move. Microsoft cannot, therefore, afford to exit the mobile space.
But if Windows Phone 7 does fail, then the company may well face a crunch decision.
The software giant could just knuckle down and produce another mobile OS, but may think twice about doing so given the time and cost that would require. Or it could withdraw from the smartphone race altogether and concentrate on providing top quality services for use on other devices and operating systems.
But Microsoft has its best chance of succeeding in a long time. The consensus so far is that the new operating system is very good. Certainly its operator and manufacturer partners are putting a lot of faith in it. But it is now down to the public to decide whether the investment gamble has paid off.