In the good ol’ days, handheld technology wars were much simpler. For PDA platforms, you had Palm and Windows Mobile. You generally picked one, made fun of the other camp, and life was good.
Then, Palm started making WM-powered devices, and it nas not been the same since.
Thankfully, the consumer space is filled with some great options. BlackBerry might be struggling, but is very much alive; iOS is thriving and Android is propagating in huge numbers. Palm morphed into WebOS and was put out to pasture.
Windows Mobile morphed too, into it’s current form: Windows Phone.
WP8 (the latest iteration) isn’t necessarily a dark horse anymore either. Not at all; in fact it seems Microsoft’s labor of love is beginning to bear fruit, and is well on it’s way to being THE third option in the platform battles. I recently had an opportunity to acquire a Nokia 521, a budget WP8 GSM model on T-Mobile. It clearly doesn’t have the best specs in mobility. It doesn’t (gasp!) even have a front facing camera. But it does provide a glimpse into how Microsoft is making itself a contender.
Ecosystem: Yes, the Windows Phone App Store still trails the big boys with regards to availability of popular cross-platform titles, but they are beginning to show. Microsoft is not bashful when it comes to courting developers, and while the process isn’t immediate, it does seem to be making gains. Further to that, it helps that the extended ecosystem is huge. The most successful mobile OS’s today seem to be backed by companies with a knack for diversification; Microsoft fits the bill. WP8 users can look for native compatibility with the arguably the most successful suite of office products available, that can be a draw for church creatives. You got Skype and Hotmail/Outlook as great business and recreation tools.
Hardware: Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia is another interesting development. Now, in addition it OEMs like HTC and Huawei, Microsoft has its own dedicated hardware manufacturer. On paper, this can be good for Microsoft, escpecially if it keeps loose reigns on Nokia. This separated it from companies like BlackBerry, which have to worry about both the hardware and software regardless of market conditions. For a season, Palm enjoyed the benefits multiple OEMs engender; we’ll see if Microsoft can leverage this.
Cash: What the Nokia acquisition highlights is Microsoft’s safety net: lots of money. Success in mobility is a long, expensive sprint. R&D, advertising, partnerships and Scroogled campaigns cost a lot of money. Money allows big Em Ess to be patient.
Diversity: WP8 can be had at different price points, colors and carriers. This helps with adoption, and I believe it is a huge reason why WP8 is gaining on BlackBerry devices for marketshare.
So it does seem to be looking up for WP8. I, for one, can’t wait to see how it fleshes out. I think WP8 wants to be known as more than just the platform that has a device with a 41 MP camera, and while it won’t yet replace my personal daily driver, I like it.
What has your experience with WP8 been like?
[Image via Eduardo Lopez via Wikimedia Commons]