Microsoft can change the mobile landscape with the Cloud.
Microsoft can change the mobile landscape with the Cloud.
When IBM, Microsoft and Apple introduces computing technology, the idea being having a computer was to have a machine that can do lot of thing on its own. As new technology were being introduced, computers had gotten smart at accomplishing certain tasks. Whether it was using a calculator, editing photo and video, file storage; these were the things anyone could do very quickly with a computer. Nevertheless, it was a very isolated experience. Once you are not in front of your screen, the magic of computing technology was not the same. Then something interesting happened: the invention of the internet. With a nascent technology, computer ceased to be on an insulated island. Not only you could complete a variety of task in a quickly fashion, you were able to connect to the rest of the world. I am don't remember exactly who said it, whether it was Steve Job or Bill Gates, having a computer was not necessarily about the computer; what was important is what one can do with it. The idea of what you can do with it was what pushed by company like Microsoft, IBM, and Apple to create IDE, API which will allowed developers to create software applications. On the early age of desktop, Microsoft had arguably created the best IDE, and this still maybe the case today. Millions of software applications were created for Windows operating system. Apple, on the other hand, had great hardware but did not have the plethora of applications available on Windows to attract the masses. Sure, they built great hardware, but most of the apps were created for Windows. In fact, one of the argument that was repeatedly pronounced when someone chooses a Windows-based computer over a Mac was the comparatively large of numbers of software applications that were available for Windows. Microsoft won the war on the desktop. Apple understand that it was going to practically impossible to have the number of applications compare to Windows, so they focused on creating beautiful hardware, with an operating system that was very robust against virus. They marketed Mac as virus free and they made the Mac line luxury brand. It worked to a certain extent because they dominate the sale of higher hand hardware. Meanwhile, Microsoft was busy enjoying the success that they have with Windows and the millions of applications that were available. Plus, price of windows-based computer were relatively more affordable than Apple hardware.
But with the creation of the internet, software applications importance was increasingly becoming was accentuated. Sure, there were these must-have applications such as Microsoft office, Adobe Photoshop, AutoCAD, but there were a lot that one could do with a browser. Still, Microsoft were still dominating the desktop market due to the number of applications that were available for Windows operating system. Google, in the meantime understood the importance of the internet and took advantage of Microsoft and apple missteps, and become a giant of the web. I mean google is synonym to search. This is how powerful Google has become. As result, Microsoft and Apple could not do anything to battle google on the web sphere. Sure Microsoft bundling Internet explorer with Windows gave them the advantage of guaranteed exposure but Chrome was that good, that did not stop Chrome from getting considerable market share. In fact, most people could get by with only a browser. With google and many other online services, software application stopped being the norm for a successful platform. Microsoft should do the same when it comes to Windows phone, but how?
As usually, apple, once again, change the mobile game with the introduction of the iPhone. It was a refreshing, new take on the mobile computing. The hardware was different and beautiful. Akin to the desktop age, one element that would put iPhone over the top was the large availability of applications, known as apps. Quickly, iPhone was amassing some of the top app with the highest quality. This is still true until these days. Developers tend to released their app for iPhone first, then android and maybe windows phone. Google understand the treat of the iPhone and was very lucky to put their hands on Android. Sure, Android was significantly buggy but it was refined overtime and become the most versatile operating system today. But unlike the desktop battle, android was quickly able to get a significant number of apps and being free made it even more attractive. As the only alternative to iOS, Android quickly gather significant market share with free and relatively less expensive hardware. So the new mobile era, great hardware, good online service and lot, I mean lot of apps were all important to have a successful platform. Today, all three platform have great hardware. When apple introduced the iPhone the first time, there was nothing to compete against it. In fact, the iPhone was king but things are very different today. IPhone, Android-based based, and the Lumia line are equally good. In fact, there are instances when Android and Windows Phone have surpassed the iPhone in terms of hardware. Today Microsoft and Nokia is leading the chart in terms of mobile imaging technology. The Lumia 1020 has the best camera phone and it is fact very advanced compared to the rest. Android leads the chart in terms of specification. Already Windows Phone is already catching up with the update 3. IPhone still remain third in term of specification, screen size.
In terms of online service, SkyDrive, iCloud and Google suites are equally excellent. Services like email, productivity suite, cloud storage, music and video are excellent on each respective platforms. I mean SkyDrive, iCloud and Google are great services that offer similar and equally excellent support for each platform. In terms of service, you cannot go wrong if you decide to stick with Microsoft, google or Apple offering. Xbox Music and Video are very good service with the potential to get better. Google's music is really great. ITunes is still king on the desktop and equally good compared to Xbox and Google music on mobile. In terms of suite productivity, Microsoft is leading with office available to Windows phone users, free. I mean Google just recently bundled its recently acquired office suite and it is good but not as good as office on Windows phone. iCloud is well apple offering and it is good enough for people with iPhone. But there is one area where Apple and Google will always dominate: apps. let me just be clear that Windows phone will never get similar number of apps as Apple and Google; and this is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, sure Microsoft would like a significant number of apps for marketing purposes. But it is more important to have key apps than to have a large number of apps where actually do the same thing. So how does Microsoft should go against Apple and Google when it comes to app? Short answer: it should not.
First, with more than 1 million app, there is no shortage of app on iOS and Android, in fact, an operating system without apps is like having car without fuel. This is the same thing that happen 20 year ago when Apple was trying to fight Microsoft with the gazillion of apps that were available on the operating system. Apple did not pursue Microsoft, the changes the game but focusing on mobile. Until today, there is no way that apple will get the number of app available on windows. Same goes for Chrome OS. Microsoft should not try to spend the time, resources and money to get a great number of apps for Windows phone. They should focus on something innovative and refreshing that does not involved apps. But how? Well the answer is with the cloud. When one puts the number of apps available for is and Android, there are like maybe apps that does the same thing. So really like 1 million sounds like a big number, there are not 1 million apps that offer a unique experience. The number of apps that offer a very unique experience is significantly smaller. It is necessary to have 100 calculator apps or 20 different apps. Some people might find this useful, but the truth is that it is having 30 YouTube app is not different than having only 2 YouTube apps. The feature gap between the 20 you tubes app is not small between the features that 2 YouTube app offer. With the cloud and voice assistance, Microsoft could reduce the significance of app and focus on the experience. Let’s say for instance, you want to get tech news. With the soon-to-announced Cortona, one could go "Cortona get tech news". Cortana will then go on the cloud on search for the news. Whether the news is from Verge, Neowin, or Betanews do not really matter. So instead of focusing having the verge apps, you should focus on the content because what apps are doing is giving you access to the web content. Another instance is booking a flight. one can go "Cortana look for a ticket from LAX to ATL", then cortona will go on the cloud and search for the best price. That element the need to have separate app for travelolicity, or any other airlines app for that matter. If one can have a centralized system to book search for a flight, book the flight atomically and maybe receive notification about the flight, this will eliminate the need to have app for each airlines. This is only possible through the cloud and very smart voice assistance.
There have been rumors that the candidates to be the next CEO of Microsoft will decisively try to spin off Bing, but I believe that Bing should be at the center of the next mobile evolution. Smartphone need apps because smartphone without apps are quite dumb. It is the same thing like the old days of desktop but internet changes everything, the cloud can do the same thing. With the cloud it is really not necessary to have a Pandora, Hulu Plus apps. The cloud can solve the Microsoft’s app situations. Just look at Xbox and see what is possible with a smart voice assistance system. So, I hope that the next CEO of Microsoft understands what Bing really mean for the future of Microsoft. Bing is not about displaying blue link, it is about understand the information and brings that the end users on many ways. The cloud can do for Microsoft what the internet did to Google, or how apps contributed to the success of the iPhone. Microsoft cannot compete with Google and Apple when it comes to app. so Microsoft need to focus other than games or create a new game. If Microsoft can create a cloud system that give you answer to anything that you want, or organizing your life, find tickets to a concerts, travel tickets, news or any other information, the need to have separate apps to access the same information disappears. Like the people hub, photo hub, having the integrated system with a smart voice assistance can really alleviate Microsoft's app situation and arguable better solution to information management. There will still be a need for specific apps and I am sure Microsoft can solve that, but Microsoft should also bring something that one app cannot bring as a standalone apps.
This is not about using HTML 5 instead of native app, or wrapping mobile webs to mobile apps. This is about creating an intelligent and smart system that give on the information that one needs without depending on specific travel, weather, movies tickets, news apps.
What do you guys think? Hope for an healthy discussion.