Will Windows 8 bring MS into the tablet/phone game?

Recent I had a discussion about the contents of the following article: http://gizmodo.com/5839665/windows-8-slate-hands-on-its-fantastic-but-dont-sell-your-ipad, where I labeled a post: “Eventually the tablet OS market will be like the desktop OS market. MS against Apple also on tablets.” which caused an interesting debate. So I thought I would write why I believe this will be so.

I would say that on the tablet market Android isn’t imposing any real threat to anything, maybe apart from themselves. Regardless of ice cream, soft ice or whatever sweet project name Google came up with this time – guess it requires a lot of sweets to swallow Android, it won’t bring them into the tablet market. If you’ve followed stories on non-iPad tablets, then they’re being returned at an alarming rate. There’s nobody delivering Android tablets, not I’ve been able to find, that are keen on informing about number of sold units – normally something you would be very keen on doing if you were selling a lot of units. Should give you a hint to the traction the Android based tablet devices.

One thing that history has taught us is that big corporation becomes very innovative when their core business and primary revenue generator comes under pressure, and feel themselves against the wall. That’s the point in time, they either bet their business (as Apple did) or reinvent themselves (as IBM did). Not sure MSFT is really against the wall, yet. But they definitely feel under pressure, and are probably concerned about their primary revenue generators being Office and Windows. Will they succeed, only time can tell – but it’s definitely naive to count MSFT out of the game on tablets and phones.

On the subject of Android on phones, then there’s not just 1 Android, there’s uncountable number of Android implementations out there. Every phone and tablet vendor using Android got their own version of Android. This fragmentation causes problems with the apps developed for Android, and you can have apps that works on a device from Samsung, but doesn’t work on a device from HTC. People keeps talking about the success of the Android platform and there’s a bunch of charts showing that there’s more Android phones than, but that covers all flavors of Android on all vendors of devices. If you compare the manufactures of phones, then Apple is the single biggest vendor of phones. Followed by Samsung and Nokia. Note that Samsung includes non-smartphone and non-android phones, goes for Nokia as well. So how successful is Android really when it comes to it? And also, how to you measure whether or not something or someone is successful?

Google buying Motorola could backfire on Android, as the current device manufactures will be concerned, that Motorola will get an unfair market advantage when it comes to delivering new versions of Android. There’s already been speculations about Samsung looking at WP7 and/or buying WebOS and/or promoting Bada. I bet you, that the Softies in Redmond and employees at Apple was clapping their hands when Google announced the acquisition. As much as Apple and MSFT (probably) hates each other, they do agree on disliking google. And together they do make a somewhat scary opponent. MSFT is probably already working hard to convince Samsung and HTC that WP7 is a better bet than Android, and by acquiring Motorola, Google just made the argument easier.

There’s been a lot of criticism of MSFT not building a complete new OS for tablets, or at least uses the WP7 OS from the phone. To some extent I do share that concern, as Windows is a huge OS. The interesting thing, though, is that Apple is trying to merge MacOSX and iOS into one OS, that work started with LION. So you could argue, that Apple and MSFT is doing similar things, however, Apple used a convergence strategy – having 2 distinct OSes and converge them, whereas MSFT used a duplicate strategy, duplicate your OS to multiply devices – and slim it. By the end of the day, both Apple and MSFT are trying to do the same thing, having one OS to ease development of apps. For Apple that would allow users to use iOS based apps on Macintosh, allowing Apple to sell more computers. For MSFT it’ll allow users to use the apps they already know on tablets. Same Same, but different starting point and approach.

How will this end? Well, only time can tell. But it’s imperative when we try to project or anticipate the future that we stay non-biased and objective; otherwise, we risk making critical strategic decisions based on personal preferences, which doesn’t always come out successful.

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