Will Windows Mobile 6 go mainstream with consumers?

24 Oct , 2007  

Window’s Mobile 6 PDA/phone operating system is making many a WM5 and WM5 SmartPhone user very happy these days. I’ve just upgraded to WM6 Pro myself after enduring a very painful mobile device experience with my Motorola Q Windows SmartPhone. I’m half tempted to make a YouTube video of the various ways I’d like to see my Q crushed (car tire, slow closing bench vice, garbage truck compactor, falling off a high building, etc.) Maybe I’ll donate my Q for use as a victim in the next Saw movie sequel.

Windows_mobile_6_live_searchI’m happy to report that the WM6 Pro experience has been very good so far. Voice command recognition is extremely useful (a new requirement on my business phone requirements list) and Windows Live Search rocks!  WM6 is a very powerful and full featured mobile OS. I’m using it on the new Samsung i760. But I’d like to revise that famous SpiderMan quote to the following; "With great power, comes great responsibility… and training".

WM6 isn’t for the gum popping, faint of heart, mall junkies who just want to juice up their phone with the latest ripped mp3s and some nice skins. That’s all possible but there’s much more depth to WM6. I call it more of laptop-lite experience. Since it’s Windows, I didn’t expect the experience to be plug-n-play but rather plug-trial’n’error-then-play. Just to get it recognized as a USB device on my laptop took some research on Clearly not the experience Apple iPhone users expect and get for the most part. But some of that is expected for a PDA/phone that’s been on the market for 3 days. And, there’s much, much more to WM6 than other phone OS’s and that comes at a cost.

Will consumers accept, or rather, adopt WM6 in droves? Microsoft has lowered the price $100 to help their cause. For the technical crowd I think WM6 is a great platform. A replacement option for the BlackBerry user? Definitely, if you could get them to give it up. For a very low-tech family member? Never. I think it comes down to a very basic question; do you want more than a gadget (consumer device), email centric/PIM/phone (BlackBerry crowd), chic-cool religious experience (iPhone), or a laptop-lite PDA experience. It all depends on the experience, functionality and versatility you’re looking for.

Net-Net: Consumers? No, WM6 is overkill. Techies? Yes, techie heaven. Business? An option many IT department will push for existing BlackBerry users.


Windows Mobile devices go mainstream with IT management capabilities

23 Oct , 2007  

You know the game has changed when mobile devices can now come under policy management control by the IT department. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer announced the ability to place Windows Mobile under Active Directory, group policies and remote management coming with Microsoft’s System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 coming in, you guessed it, 2008.

Windows_mobile_6Big deal? Yes. IT’s ability to manage a mobile PDA/phone as a device on the network means they can require specific configuration settings, restrict software and over time completely remotely manage Windows Mobile devices just like any other desktop or laptop.

Essentially, PDA/phones are coming of age as devices IT manage and support just like any other computing device. IT doesn’t like with can’t be managed and mobile devices that become "one of the family" through management features makes everyone happy. It also eases the deployment of more applications by IT onto mobile platforms. What this does in the marketplace is create an even greater distance in Windows Mobile 6 devices from other mobile OSs from Palm, BlackBerry and Apple. This is another example of the Microsoft embrace and extend strategy.  Love ’em or hate ’em, Microsoft does what it does well.

Microsoft, Mobility, Product Mgmt

Free Customer Research for Business Cell Phone Designers

8 Oct , 2007  

Product_bistro_menu_2My Criteria for the Killer Business Phone I’d like today:

  1. A great phone – If the phone quality and usabilityisn’t there, then it’s just a PDA. No memory-wiped soft keys or speed dialsettings that lose their brain in the middle of using your phone, like WindowsMobile Smartphone does on my Motorola Q. The number one bread-and-butterapplication on any multi-function phone is it must be a superior phone.
  2. Broadband wireless network and WiFi network access.
  3. Encrypted Microsoft Exchange Integration – Email,calendaring and contacts tied into Exchange, synchronizing over the datanetwork, is still the killer crack-app on business phones. That’s what stillfits the bill when it comes to business. Without it, all other phones are justconsumer electronics devices.
  4. Bright light and “Eyes over 40” large display –read the display outdoors, while driving and no micro-fonts so folks over 40don’t have to hand the phone over to a younger passenger to read the displayfor them. Big enough to read emails or watch a movie. Oh ya, touch screen with gesturesinterface like the iPhone.
  5. About the size of a deck of cards. Slightlybigger if needed for a larger screen. The display should be sharp, crisp, incolor and very easy to read. Can carry in your front pants pocket without looking like you are sporting a chained biker wallet. Light enough not to show pocket sag.
  6. Hidden/sliding keyboard for easy typing and scrollwheel, like on the Blackberry or Motorola Q, for fast email scrolling. Keyboard can’tfeel like you are trying to punch out the chads on a Florida voting card.
  7. Great extended length battery.  It would be nice to be able to go more thantwo days before charging when using email ActiveSync and a moderate amount of phonecalls.
  8. GPS Street Navigator with Turn-by-Turndirections. External Bluetooth antennae for the car and enough storage for allthe NFL cities (without eating into storage for other goodies). Automatic mapupdates.
  9. Wireless Bluetooth headset that works duringairplane announcements. It would be nice to talk to someone on their Bluetooth noise canceling headset that actually canceled the background noise instead of the caller’s voice. The Bluetooth headset should also be able to tell when it’s sitting on someone’s ear instead of on the desk so you can answer the phone without saying, "Hello… hello… just a sec while I get my headset on!" The headset should be placeable into the phone, like stylus pens are today, and charged along with the phone.
  10. Fingerprint scanner, so only I can use myphone. Automatic timed screen lock. Upon N unsuccessful fingerprint attempts, the device wipes any data clean. It canalso be wiped by sending a signal to the device. If the phone is recovered, it easily resync’s and reloads the wiped data.
  11. Full data encryption for essential data. Exclude videos, mp3s and other data not requiring encryption.
  12. Built to last for 2 or more years under daily,heavy business use. Loss protection included with purchase.
  13. Can’t run Windows Mobile or Palm OS. I’m tired of Windows Mobile Smartphone 5 crashing and rebooting my Q, and Palm OS was built for a different era of phones and PDAs.
  14. A “cool” factor. Lets face it, all of us wantother people to notice our phone gadgets and say to us, “Cool, you have the newiPearlRazrBerryQ? How do you like it?I hear those are great! Can I see it? Do you recommend it?”
  15. Price under $300.

Future_cell_phone_userNice to have extras, but don’t count if the above aren’tdone well.

  • 2 megapixel (or more) camera. Great for takingpictures of the whiteboard after a meeting is over, or capture an idea ormoment to share with others.
  • iPod features + iTunes. No other MP3 player hasbeen able to match the iPod. While iTunes can misbehave on occasion, it isstill the best online music service.
  • Visual Voicemail. iPhone users seem crazy aboutit so it must be worth including.
  • Built in solar charger to keep the battery going between full charges.
  • HUD sun glasses with wireless video transmission of Google Maps and turn-by-turn directions.
  • Remote desktop control of you laptop of desktop computer. Secured of course.

Did I cover it all? What would you add or change?

Microsoft, Mobility

You can run but you can’t hide, from Nokia

2 Oct , 2007  

Nokia’s made a very strategic move by announcing their acquisition of Navteq, supplier to over half the markets street and satellite mapping information. Rand McNally, GPSs (personal and automobiles), online mapping services like Google Maps and Yahoo Maps, personal computers, PDAs, and phone manufactures are just a few of their customers. Navteq owns more market share and is considered to have a duopoly with TeleAtlas, their nearest competitor.

As both a competitor to other phone manufactures and keeper of key mapping data, Nokia is holding onto some very valuable information and could also move into markets to compete with Garmin and other GPS products. It’s a surprise Google, Microsoft of some other cash-rich tech-savvy company didn’t buy them up before this, though $8.1B is nothing to sneeze at. Sramana Mitra called attention to this one earlier (here and here). Navteq’s been around for a while (since 1985) and became much more visible when the went public. You didn’t have to re-read Megatrends to figure out the GPS and map information is the current and future currency of mobile computing, especially as hardware, software and services become geo-aware.

Looks like Nokia played this one right and snatched Navteq up before someone else did. There has to be a lot of eyes on TeleAtlas now.

Microsoft, Mobility

Microsoft, Palm, Crackberry, iPhone – Gogglephone calling. It’s for you!

29 Aug , 2007  

It’s rumored that Goggle may announce a new Linux-based phone operating system after Labor Day. As a web 2.0 user and enthusiast I say "wonderful" on several accounts. First, any opportunity for someone to enter the scene and put Windows Mobile Smartphone (what runs on my Motorola Q) to a quick death would get my vote. Even a swift kick might be helpful.

I’ve had Windows Mobile on two phone platforms and nothing could be more painful to endure; the phone reboots itself several times a week, hot keys suddenly go on a Microsoft veteran sabbatical, and I still haven’t figured out how to do a simple 3-way call. I live for the day Verizon carries a viable alternative, like the current Blackberry Pearl. Could a Googlephone be in Verizon’s future? That would be a blessing.

What’s even more exciting about a possible Googlephone is having an open mobile platform in which applications can truly be integrated and interoperate with network web 2.0 apps. Maybe then I could do a 3-way call too. I know, I know – all the iPhone-ers will say get an iPhone but compromising on call quality with Cingular/ATT’s network, and paying the $200 drop charge plus $600 for the phone doesn’t exactly fit into the empty-nester / 2 kids in college gadget budget.

Go Googlephone. I’m excited to see what they have.

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Microsoft, Mobility

What we have here is a failure to failover

20 Apr , 2007  

Cool_hand_luke_2Paraphrasing Cool Hand Luke. It sounds like RIM’s Blackberry network email problems were due to their email servers not properly failing over from Waterloo, Ontario to the facilities in the UK.

Surely the Ops team at RIM are scrambling to figure out why and better test the failover.

Meanwhile, the confidence to function has been shaken in every exec, manager and politician on the north American continent.

Paul_atreidesI’m actually disappointed that this was the problem. I had suspected the true cause was that Paul Muad’Dib Atreides (of the Dune planet Arrakis) had stopped the flow of the spice melange, preventing the folding of space by the Spacing Guild "RIM" Navigators, preventing the delivery of Crackberry emails throughout the universe.

The RIM "failover story" is probably just some cover up to hide all of this from us. So if you see any RIM guys hanging around, give them the gom jabbar treatment until they fess up about what’s really going on. I see plans within plans…

Microsoft, Mobility

Blackberry without a network

18 Apr , 2007  

What do you call a Blackberry without a network?

a Lackberry

lol. You heard it here first. Now, add your own answer to the question (either on your blog or comment on this post.)