The Mobile Choice team are out getting briefed on the new version of Windows Mobile, 6.5 (report will be live at 3pm). We can expect a significant improvement from this new incarnation of the MS operating, but will it be enough?
It's amazing to think that Microsoft trailblazed on both smartphones and downloadable apps with the launch of the SPV all those years ago, and yet is so far adrift today.
The problem is not just that Apple's iPhone has an operating system that makes it nicer to use. In fact, it's not that Apple has the lead in any one area, it's that it has so successfully joined up the things people want to use. It's the Apple eco-system of iTunes for music and video purchases, podcast and app downloads, coupled with pretty much the same user interface, whatever the individual application, that makes it so joined up. And such a breath of fresh air for even technology-weary consumers to use.
Unfortunately, Apple's rivals have been slow to get the point. Handset manufacturers for example have suffered target fixation where the iPhone is concerned. (For those unfamiliar with the term, it was coined in WWII when fighter piolots could get so preoccuppied straffing enemy aircraft they became obvlious to all other hazards, and even tended to collide with their prey. I know it from riding motorbikes, where it describes a tendency to ride into the things you partiularly want to avoid. )
It's little harsh to say, but manufacturers' have been fixated with matching or bettering individual elements of the iPhone - touch screen, user interface or app stores. Because of this, and the fact they cannot drive relationships with operators in the way Apple evidently can, they have not brought enough focus to bear on the overall experience, making it easy an effort-free.
Microsoft's Marketplace app store will also go live today. It will probably start with only with several dozen apps - a little disappointing as it has been in the mobile apps game since the launch of Handango in 1999. Let's hope it has learned something from its years of experience and at last brings the muscle and imagination to mount a serious challenge to the Apple crowd.