Saturday, August 20, 2011

Windows Phone Optimist Responds to HP's Mobile Device Exit

Microsoft's Brandon Watson responded (via Twitter) to the HP exit from WebOS hardware with an invitation to extablished (and presumably bummed) WebOS developers. The invitation contains an interesting assumption -- can you spot it?
To Any Published WebOS Devs: We'll give you what you need to be successful on #WindowsPhone, phones, dev tools, and training, etc.
On my read, the invitation assumes that something Microsoft is able to deliver can enable third parties' success. In particular, it assumes that some combination of Microsoft phone hardware and development tools are capable of enabling developer success for developers whose products targeted WebOS. But given Microsoft's share of the phone OS market, which since the launch of the euphonic and musical-sounding Windows Phone 7 Series has fallen 38% from 8% to less than 5.8%, mostly within the last quarter (7.5% to 5.8%), one wonders what "success" means for a developer receiving this largesse. And whether the share Microsoft might snag from disgruntled WebOS developers (less than 2%) is really capable of moving the needle for Microsoft.

Of course, Microsoft may expect its arrangement with Nokia to result in big share. But think for a moment: Nokia's huge market share (recently just under a quarter of the market) lies in the lower-end, where margins are slimmer. And Nokia's share (measured by units) is falling. Measured by profits ... well, is a share that results in a loss bigger than a half-billion dollars per quarter really a market worth targeting? Last year, Nokia's share exceeded 40%. No longer. If Microsoft is making any money on this deal, it's making more than Nokia. What's the lifespan of a deal like that?

But Watson promises "what you need to be successful". And when has anyone from Microsoft ever lied?

No comments: