On another site that I frequent someone made reference to a news article from Endgadget that was touting the idea of Xbox Live coming to Windows Mobile phones and the news and comments (negative comments about the idea of ever using a Windows Mobile phone or switching to one away from whatever phones someone currently has) inspired me to rant a litte, both at the other site and here at the circle of JoeUser.com communities.
I ask in the article title and sub-title whether phones and pad devices (iPad and others) are the beginning of the end for Microsoft and their dominance of the PC marketplace. Please feel free to offer your own thoughts as I toss out a few of my own and perhaps put words into the mouths of others.
First up, I seem to recall that the gracious host of the JoeUser.com community had written some comments that perhaps echoed the same thoughts that I might be tossing out here... his thoughts were published soon after the release of the iPad. He was, if I am recalling correctly and paraphrasing correctly, somewhat concerned about what the iPad meant to someone that made their living writing and selling software for PC's.
I'm sure other people have had other similar thoughts and my comments back in the discussion about the news of Xbox Live coming to Windows Mobile really isn't doing anything to change that situation, or so I believe.
I'm personally starting to think more and more that Microsoft may be in trouble here. They've stumbled pretty badly in the phone marketplace. Where they used to be one of the formidable competitors they are an also ran, falling further and further behind Apple (with the iOS and their iPhones) and Google (with the Android OS). Not to mention a wealth of messaging phones and more bare bones phones, and oh yeah, those folks from Palm that are back there somewhere. And then there's also the iPad devices and tablet market where Microsoft can't seem to do any better than vaporware.
A few years ago the European Union saw fit to smack Microsoft around pretty harshly for behaving in a monopolistic manner. Personally I think rightfully so, and still wish that the U.S. Department of Justice had done a better job in their own case against Microsoft, and further wish that the original results had come to fruition -- Microsoft should have been split up. They should have done it voluntarily, and if they had, perhaps they'd be in a much better place right now, rather than having people like me looking at them and wondering if we really are beginning to see the end for them.
I say this because if they had broken themselves up into somewhat logical business units they may have regained some of the drive and hunger that got them into trouble to begin with, and would, at least in theory, have also been more focused and streamlined in their goals. Rather than being a big behemoth that has too many potential masters and drivers for what markets they need to or want to be in, they could have wound up as smaller units that easily saw where they should go and worked to get there. For now they continue to dominate in the office productivity suite area and in the desktop operating system area, but with more virtualization and more movement to cloud based computing and web applications can they remain so dominant? With more and more users working with portable and ultra portable devices (such as the iPad) and smart phones and such, are PC's as important as they once were?
Apple seems to be moving further and further ahead thanks to an extremely loyal fan base, while Google is also pushing ahead with customers that want a good smart phone but don't necessarily want an iPhone and/or can't get decent network coverage from AT&T. If a Droid tablet hits the market running, Microsoft falls even further behind, while the market in general ho-hum's over their (Microsoft's) smart phones and waits for the vaporware tablets to maybe, someday, eventually, hopefully show-up.
So, is the end of Microsoft's dominance out there on the horizon, barely visible, or will they right the ship and get the consumers to again desire their products?
Before you answer, think about the Zune and what is has or hasn't done in the marketplace. Think about Microsoft's tablet efforts, and think of their phone and PDA efforts. Are they moving forward with the marketplace or are they treading water as best they can hoping to stay afloat while trying to learn how to swim (all with a big anchor around their neck). You tell me.