The Window of Opportunity Is Closing On Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) is getting closer to telling us what the new Windows Phone operating system can do and when we can get it.

On Oct. 11, Mr. Softy will announce these details, according to tech news site Pocket-Lint. Later that month, we might get to see some actual phones. How generous.

Yeah, I'm being facetious here. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) are running away with the smartphone market while Microsoft drags its feet. Kudos to Microsoft for not missing the critical holiday season, but it's already pretty late in the game.

I realize that Microsoft is walking a fine line between rushing out unfinished products and missing the window of opportunity to get a foothold in the market. But if Google has shown us anything with its Android platform, it would be that it's OK to sell software that's a little rough around the edges as long as you're willing to keep working on it, releasing updates early and often. Heck, even Apple has fallen into that mode of operation with the Antennagate brouhaha and manufacturing difficulties with the white version of iPhone 4.

That's what Microsoft really needed to do here -- establish a presence in the smartphone market while consumers still are interested in new and different platforms. The sluggish pace we're actually seeing here only reminds me of how Palm hyped up its WebOS operating system and Pre phones for ages before releasing an ultimately disappointing product. We all know what happened to Palm after that, right?

Or you could look at exhibit B: Nokia's (NYSE: NOK  ) inability to get its act together and launch a decent handset stateside. At least Microsoft is using its cash piles to incentivize some developers behind its phones; the company is reportedly forking over $500 million to handset companies and developers to spur a better phones and apps when Windows 7 Phone launches.

Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but drives smartphone buyers into the waiting arms of rivals. Microsoft is killing Windows Phone 7 before it's even released.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Google, Microsoft, and Nokia are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Adviso choice. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Google and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2010, at 9:18 PM, uc22 wrote:

    blah blah ... late to the game. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that about the millions or billions of products out there I would be ... well a billionaire. How is anything "late to the game"? Televisions have been around since the late 40s and new companies like Vizio pop up and take market share. Do you think the guys at Toyota sat around saying "I bet we could make a great car but heck Ford and GM have that market, let's make lawnmowers, ah gosh LawnBoy has that wrapped up I guess we will not go into business afterall". My prime example is no other than smartphones. Just a year ago, Nokia had the world market wrapped up, Blackberry had the US market with IPhone catching up fast. Android was being called "interesting but late to the game". The rest is history. If WP7 is all the reviews say it is then you will be eating crow.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2010, at 9:21 PM, uc22 wrote:

    ok man sorry for the rant. I didn't mean to sound so sarcastic. My point is, smartphones have a shelf life of 2-3 years and brand loyalty is not exactly stellar. Why do you not think another company can't come along with a compelling product and do well?

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2010, at 9:27 PM, AngelTread wrote:

    It's already too late.

    Microsoft has dropped too far behind the competition (Android / iPhone).

    Slates and Pads are the next big thing. iPads and Android slates are flying off the shelves.

    Windows Phone 7 is dead in the water in the slate market. Yeah, we've seen the MS Tablet PC, but that is not a slate.

    So Windows Phone 7's potential market is diminished even further. Then there's the other issue of all its missing features, such as Cut, Copy and Paste.

    Windows Phone 7 is stillborn. It's D.O.A.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2010, at 10:30 PM, uc22 wrote:

    Angelthread you are entitled to your opinion but the market share for IPhone and Android is not exactly miles ahead of anyone yet. Yes they are growing fast but RIM and Nokia still top them worldwide. If we saw something like Apple 60% of the market and Android at 35% and everyone else around 5% I would agree with you. I get the whole tablet craze but when you compare that to say what Windows 7 sales look like, the IPad looks rather niche. Tons of blog posts don't equate sales. I would even agree with you on missing features but really what are they? Copy Paste has been proven a must on the PC but most people don't use it on the phone and didn't MS already say this would be in one of the first updates? What are the other missing features? I know multitasking is not there for 3rd party apps but it is for MS apps so I suspect that will suffice since IPhone had this same story until this June. Other than those two I don't really see anything missing. Not getting snippy with you but I really don't see how WP7 is going to be a bust now that even Engadget has embraced it. Check out thier review vs Blackberry 6.0. If Engadget likes a Microsoft Phone/OS then it must be pretty good as they pretty much pan all things Win Mobile/Phone

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