Microsoft’s mobile division is in a pickle. And not one of those really tasty pickles, all crisp and the perfect mix of sour, sharp and savory. No, this is a pretty crappy pickle to be in.
See, Apple, Google and RIM are all established in the smartphone space. They need to be, given that mobile search revenue is soaring, app sales are booming and hardware makers are raking in cash hand over fist. These people make pickles your Polish grandmother would be jealous of. So Microsoft cannot afford to sit mobile out.
On the flip side, coming in to compete against those three and others like Nokia (who, I hear, still sell a phone or two) requires a really well thought-out strategy that appeals to masses of people. This is not always Microsoft’s strong-suit – at least in modern mobile. (See Kin)
So, the general – if conditional – thumbs-up given to a technical preview of Windows Phone 7 by the tech press is reason for hope. It’s not all good, mind you. But some is. And for Microsoft, that’s a start.
Engadget, for example, were impressed with how smooth the ‘Metro’ interface was, particularly the Zune integration and maps. They did, however, note that the platform doesn’t support Flash, Silverlight or HTML5, which means no YouTube support, which is a major knock against it.
Mobilecrunch (i.e. Techcrunch) highyly praised the keyboard, saying it may be the best touchscreen keyboard out there. They too liked the minimalist, ‘Zune-esque’ interface and stated that the way the OS handles contacts is very slick and user-friendly. Another pleasant surprise was that the mobile version of Internet Explorer doesn’t suck. Who knew?
ZDnet’s incredibly detailed 8-page piece also provided a very positive take, but also sums up the biggest biggest downsides to the phone: no HTML5, the lack of apps including one for Twitter, no copy and paste (!!!), and no multi-tasking for 3rd party apps.
Hopefully Microsoft can build on this positive start, and also learn from the way Google has iterated on Android to make it a serious contender for best smartphone OS. If they can, it seems we may all soon benefit from another legitimate contender in the world of smartphones.