June was a busy month for the mobile market. Apple, Microsoft and Google showed the future of their respective mobiles OSes and the tech world was glued to live streams and blogs. I spent my share of few hours on YouTube to catch all the action recently and couldn’t help sharing a quick opinion here.
Google and Apple are battling it hard in the consumer market as well as the court rooms. Both iOS and Android have significant traction with over half a million apps and hundreds of millions of devices out in the market. However Microsoft isn’t as lucky. Nokia is struggling, Windows Phone 8 is a good upgrade but failed to blow the competition away by any means and the Windows Phone Marketplace is 1/6th the size of Google Play or the iTunes AppStore. However, Redmond still has an opportunity in hand to come back strongly in the smartphone market.
As popular Android devices start to get the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade, Jellybean (Android 4.1) is announced. As per Google only 7.1% of devices on June 1 were on 4.0 or above. At I/O Google failed to pull any rabbit out of its hat to get a significant chunk of the 400 million Android devices out there to Jelly Bean. That is an opportunity for Microsoft with Windows Phone.
While WP8 won’t make it to the current lot of WP 7.5 devices, Microsoft still controls the software upgrade closely. It is also evident that Windows Phone 8 would gain momentum later this year and would probably reach the market along with a bulk of other Jellybean devices. Given the lag Android has in getting its latest version out, Microsoft’s tight control on Windows Phone 8 could be a good opportunity to catchup with Android.
The refreshed Windows Phone has managed to impress with its Metro UI and has had enough learning time in the market since its original launch in 2010. While RIM would need a miracle to get momentum for BB10, Microsoft might just have saved itself a comfortable 3rd spot in the mobile race. And by the time we see Lime Pie (Android 4.2 or 5.0), Microsoft might well have caught up with Android with a mature enough Windows Phone OS.
* Overtaking Android or iOS in sales would still be a long distance for Windows phone. My belief is the OS reaching a maturity point, enough to compete in the market.