Thursday, December 16, 2010

A phone lifetime: an epic battle between Microsoft and OEM

     Looking back at my blog it seems pretty dead, but I intend to catch up as I am on vacation traveling to Brazil and Bolivia so I have some spare time for writing. It's more than a month since I finished the Dropbox client library (that I will soon post on Codeplex) and also Boxfiles for Dropbox which is the application I am trying to publish on the Marketplace. The whole publishing process was (still is as the app is not yet certified) quite an adventure and even with the support of Microsoft Italy, which I thank, it can take up to one month to have a "functional" AppHub account.
    Getting back to the title of the post. I don't know if there is/will be a battle between Microsoft and the hardware OEM, but I really hope so. I am referring to updating your windows phone 7 device. There are already rumors on the web about the "Mango" release and also about Windows Phone 8. From this point of view Apple has a winning strategy. Buying an iPhone gives the owner the certainty that his device will be up-to-date for at least 2 years (2 major releases- the one installed on the phone and the next one). On the other side there is Google and Android where the majority of the OEM choose not to update the phone OS version even if it's a minor release like 2.1 to 2.2 so in less than 6 months you will have an outdated OS. In this moment having an updated iPhone costs less in two years than having an updated Android phone. So what will be Microsoft position for the new Windows Phone? In the previous version of their mobile platform users were usually left behind between OS version updates (or to be more precise left at the OEM mercy), but the releases of updates/new versions were not so frequent which lead to the "death" of the platform on the consumer side and focus on the enterprise side were having and updated device is not so important.  I hope that Microsoft will battle to bring updates to the OEM devices for at least 2 years which is a logical choice as almost every phone operator will give you a device at an affordable price if you sign-up for at least 24 months. That would be a big plus in the battle with Android platform. 
        So who will win? Microsoft or the OEM? Will Microsoft be interested to update the devices for 24 months and loose some earning from OS licenses but give the users more confidence with the platform and compensate with Marketplace earnings?  My feeling is that the devices out now will be obsolete in one year and won't get any updates.  Maybe this is one of the reasons why the sales are not as good as everyone expected them to be: it is the first version, things are still missing and if I buy a phone now it will not be updated to the next version. Will see...


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