Recently, I had a conversation about the state of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform with a web developer friend of mine. He sent me an excellent article from Ars Technica, which made the case that Microsoft would be unwise to throw out its existing platform and attempt for fork its own version of Android. Many bloggers have argued that Windows Phone is a lost cause - pointing to its dismal market share and comparatively limited app selection. But does moving to another OS really make sense?
Ars Technica's Peter Bright says you can have compatibility or control, but you can't have both. I would agree. Moving toward a traditional or stock version of Android might compromise the Windows experience, and Microsoft would cede some of its control and data to Google. Windows Phone uses the Windows kernel, so regardless of what Microsoft does it will still be spending time maintaining the platform in one way or another. Pulling an Amazon and forking Android wouldn't really make a difference to their strategy. Microsoft would be working with AOSP (as Google has customized the Nexus version of Android) and integrating their apps and services could be a challenge. Theoretically, Android developers could port versions of their apps easier, but that would mean Microsoft throwing out another mobile OS and starting from scratch. Third time's a charm? Developers that have taken the time to write Windows Phone apps would be thrown under the bus, and I have a feeling convincing them to jump onto a third bandwagon would be almost impossible.
So why does everyone think moving to Android is a good idea? Once again, the argument is rooted in market share. When people see the single-digit market share numbers they assume the platform is doing poorly. But does all this market share talk really matter? Not really. Profit share is a much more comparable metric. For years Apple had single digit market share numbers, but they continually outgrew the rest of the PC market and made a considerable profit in the process. The smartphone market in the developed world is increasingly saturated. A third player is always going to have a dismal market share when compared to the other two. But, if Microsoft's Windows Phone platform can continue to grow - and outpace Android and iOS growth - then it doesn't matter. According to its recent quarterly results, Microsoft has seen revenue growth but profit losses from its Devices Division, but that's not necessarily a result of Windows Phone.
If anything, I would argue they should move in the opposite direction. Instead of trying to please everyone - like they continually do with Windows - their OS should offer something the competition doesn't. It's already visually distinctive, which is a huge advantage over Android. Now that it has bought Nokia, Microsoft has the opportunity to make their own hardware and software. I'm sure the thought of a tightly-integrated proprietary platform makes the open source community cringe, but open is not always better for consumers. If Microsoft can curate a solid and simple platform that integrates seamlessly with its host of cloud and productivity software (which accounts for the majority of its profit) they could become a very successful niche, essentially filling the gaping hole left by Blackberry. The strategy plays to Microsoft's comparative advantage. Enterprise. I think producing the whole widget, much like Apple does, but directing that energetic toward enterprise rather than consumer electronics would be a winning strategy, and one Microsoft can depend on for years to come.
Source: Ars Technica