So I admit, I have been pretty bad in the last few weeks in terms of regularly posting thoughts and musings on this site. The truth is, I have been very much caught up with both some professional and personal matters. But tonight, I came back from a networking event that I was so stunned by that I picked up my laptop as soon as I got home.
I enjoy going to Mobile Monday events. It's a great way to casually network and meet new people and organizations that are looking to continue the innovation trends in mobility....it's not just enterprise mobility, and in fact, more often than not, consumer mobility. Regardless, I think it's a good way to continue keeping my finger on the pulse of the market.
So, I am a member, and regular participant at Mobile Monday Boston events. This month's event was all about startups focused on consumer mobility. There was a total of 10 companies, and candidly, most of the ideas I didn't "get"....meaning I didn't see where or how these companies were actually going to be able to make money (think Bubble 3.0).
OK, regardless. Here's an interesting set of factoids. Of the 10 comapnies who presented.
- How many used Windows-based laptops? Zero
- How many used Mac laptops? Ten
- How many startups were developing mobile apps for the iPhone? Ten
- How many startups were developing mobile apps for Android? About four (I think)
- How many startups were developing mobile apps for BlackBerry? About four (I think - not necessarily the same)
- How many startups were developing mobile apps for Windows Mobile? Zero. Not a single one.
After the presentations, I went to every single company and asked them point blank what their plans were for developing Windows Mobile versions of their applications. Only ONE was considering it for their roadmap. This was absolutely shocking to me. Absolutely shocking.
So here's the problem. I've written about this a few times already, but enterprise mobility is getting increasingly consumerized. The iPhone, Android, even the slick HTC Touch FLO interfaces have all done a great job of making mobile devices more consumer friendly...and the problem that some manufacturers are forgetting is that people who work in "the enterprise" are also consumers. They are going to want slick devices that fit their lifestyles and let them do their work as well. As much as I personally don't care to use my mobile for "non-work" things, the reality is a LOT of people do.
So the problem is this. What's easier - for Microsoft (one company) to make Windows Mobile more consumer friendly or for thousands of developers and millions of users make the iPhone and Android slick and polished such that it permeates into the enterprise? I've called this before the Trojan Horse effect.
There are now "spy shots" floating around of Windows Mobile 6.5 with a sleeker home screen, but what about what happens PAST the home screen? The truth is, as much as I am a fan on Windows Mobile, and as much as I like my Palm Treo Pro, the Windows Mobile 6.1 user experience leaves much room for improvement. The fact of the matter is, it's by no means the most consumer friendly user experience for mobile devices. I like it because it's the best by far integration with Exchange. However, it's got a lot of room for improvement.
So again, if Windows Mobile does not become more consumer friendly, the platform does very much run the long term risk of becoming marginalized not by IT departments, but by the actual end users themselves. I sure as hell hope that doesn't happen.