Recently, Gartner released a market analysis that reported that Microsoft's smartphone market share had declined in the last year to less than 8 percent, with Apple and RIM making notable gains. With the risk of dropping into last place in mobile phones, Microsoft is pushing hard in the one direction where they have a lot of strength--developers.
The report indicated that essentially, the smartphone platform wars are a numbers game. Developers focus on applications that will receive the most use, and end users are looking for phones that have the most available applications and content are available. The iPhone has proven that users will download what is available, and developers can tap into that market and make a decent living, but compulsive downloaders aren't where the real money lies--mainstream subscribers are where the real money is at.
Windows Mobile market shares have dropped substantially, as have those of Symbian, with RIM, Android and iPhone picking up their losses. With the upcoming release of Google's unlocked Android-based Nexus smartphone, Gartner predicts that Android-based phones will become the number 2 platform within 3 years--a prediction that has Microsoft paying attention.
Microsoft isn't the only one paying attention to this report. Last week Palm announced the availability of it's Project Ares, a browser-based Integrated Development Environment for their Palm WebOS. Time will tell if they will become a developer (and end-user) favorite, but they are definitely moving towards that goal.
In spite of the recession that the United States is still recovering from, Smartphone sales have continued to climb over 12% last year, and in Western Europe Apple is even overtaking RIM. Microsoft's main focus will have to be to gain the following of those developers who are currently using their Visual Studio to develop applications, and get them to turn their focus to developing for Windows Mobile 7. Time will tell if the current trends will continue, but 2010 will be a year when mobile development will be a make-or-break issue for both developers and end-users.
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