Tag: Windows Phone

Increase in competition in the touchscreen smartphone market

Nokia N8

Nokia N8 shipments begin, ushers in Symbian^3 era – Engadget

Nokia N8 shipping – Units mailed out to pre-order customers | RegHardware.co.uk (United KIngdom)

Microsoft Windows Phone 7

Microsoft prepping Windows Phone 7 for an October 21st launch? (update: US on Nov. 8?) | Engadget

Windows Phone 7 sortira bien le 21 octobre | Businessmobile.fr (France – French language)

Microsoft: Windows Phone 7 kommt am 21. Oktober | netzwelt.de (Germany – German language)

Microsoft bestätigt Starttermin von Windows Phone 7 | derStandard.at (Austria – German language)

My comments

Over September and October 2010, there is increased activity concerning competing touchscreen-smartphone platforms. This will definitely make Apple squirm even

The first one will be the Nokia N8 with its Symbian 3 operating system, which will be a way of keeping Nokia users loyal to the Nokia N-Series phones with the Symbian platform. This platform is shipping now and most of the European mobile-phone operators are likely to have the various contracts worked out for these phones by October.

The second one will be the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 which is intended to be launched in the European market by 21 October. At the moment, HTC have worked out various models for this platform

These phones will use a “windowed” UI on their home screen so it is easier to go to particular functions at a touch rather than working with a list or scattered widgets on the home screen as what Android or iOS (iPhone) do.

There is a question that I have yet to hear an answer about with the Symbian 3 or the Windows Phone 7. It is whether developers will have greater freedom to develop apps for these platforms and whether there are many paths available for provisioning the software to the phones. This includes whether the app stores can charge for the software through the mobile-phone provider’s billing system for post-paid services as well as through credit cards or vouchers as is the current practice with the iTunes App Store.

Similarly, there is the issue of whether a person can download an app to a regular computer and upload it to the phone via the local network or through a USB or Bluetooth tethered connection. This practice may be useful for people who are provisioning software to employees for example; or installing / updating a “mobile component” app as part of the installation procedure for a piece of hardware or software.

It will then be interesting in a year to see which of the companies will “own” particular touchscreen-smartphone markets such as the consumer market, small-business-user market and “enterprise / corporate” market.

Windows Phone 7 code now “set” – another change to the smartphone landscape


Microsoft locks down Windows Phone 7 code • The Register

Windows Phone 7 – Released To Manufacturing | Windows Team Blog (Microsoft)

My comments

The touchscreen-smartphone establishment is now feeling threatened due to Microsoft going “gold” on the Windows Phone 7 operating system. This will mean that the code is ready to roll out to the likes of HP and HTC in order to provide another competing platform for this class of device. In some ways, this platform may also work as a platform that competes with the Blackberry for business-use smartphones. This would be primarily because of the Microsoft name being of high value when it comes to traditional-business computing which is based around a fleet of information-technology devices that belong to the business and managed by IT-management staff.

It reminds me of 1984-1985 when the home computing scene matured with at least six computing platforms became established in the marketplace and this opened a path for a mature home / educational computing market. Similarly, the late 1980s saw the establishment of at least three mature mouse-driven GUI-based desktop computing platforms on the computing market. During these time periods, software developers had to know how to pitch the same application or game at different platforms. In a lot of cases, the developers had to know what the different platforms were capable of and what their programming limitations were. With some platforms like the IBM PC, they also had to know of different display, sound and input-device combinations that were available for the platform at the time.

In the case of the smartphones, the developers may run in to issues with different models on the one platform being equipped with different screen sizes and functionality levels like availability of input or output devices. Similarly they may have to make their software please the companies in charge of some platforms before they can sell the software through the platform’s software marketplace. This may affect utility applications like Wi-Fi site-survey tools or remote-control applications that may implement functionality that may be “out-of-scope” for the platform.

These next years may show which platforms will mature and stabilise to become the preferred ones for consumer, advanced-consumer and business smartphone classes.

Showdown on the handheld front

Two years ago, there was very little activity concerning the handheld PDA and smartphone front save for a few devices based on the Symbian S60 / UIQ platform and Windows Mobile (CE) platform.

Then Apple brought their touchscreen-enabled all-singing all-dancing iPhone on the market and businessmen became addicted to Research In Motion’s Blackberry smartphone with push e-mail functionality. Now Nokia (Symbian S60), Google Android and Microsoft have jumped on the same bandwagon as these previous companies. In the case of Nokia and Microsoft, they have released handset designs based on the iPhone-style “touchscreen” model as well as a QWERTY-style keypad. Some have even designed a handset that works sideways and uses a pull-out QWERTY keyboard. As well, Google had built up the Android Linux distribution for smartphone applications and a few manufacturers are releasing smartphones bast on this platform; while Palm, known for the classic “Palm Pilot” PDA, have come back from the dead with the Palm Pre smartphone platform.

This had stirred up things very significantly with the contract-driven high-end smartphone market. 

A new expectation was required for this class of device in the way they operated, the features they came with and how the additional software that extends their functionality is marketed. The devices will have 3G (or better) cellular voice and data interface, 802.11g WPA2 Wi-Fi networking, Bluetooth connectivity while being capable of working as a digital video camera, phone, portable media player, personal navigation unit and Internet terminal at least. Additional programs will be typically sold or provided through a PC-based or over-the-air application store hosted by the device’s manufacturer or platform provider.

As part of this showdown on the smartphone front, handset designers, operating-system and applications developers will start to develop very interesting handsets and handheld applications. The handset designers and operating-system developers will end up at the point which was common for consumer electronics in the 1970s and 1980s where manufacturers pitted themselves against each other to design the best product and as models evolved, the features that were in the top-end model gradually appeared on midrange and low-end models. Mobile service providers will also have to provide cost-effective mobile service plans which consider increased data usage on these devices as they become work and lifestyle information terminals for their users.

This could lead to inclusion of digital radio and TV reception in some of the models; 802.11n Wi-Fi networking; OLED user displays, improved battery runtime on “full-feature” use; and the like.

As far as applications are concerned, developers who write handheld applications, whether operating as a dedicated program or as a front-end to a Web page, will need to make the applications suit the different platforms and application stores. This may be easier for the Microsoft and Symbian platforms because the developer can have the option of providing the application through their Web site, a competing application store like Handango, or a mobile phone operator as well as the official application store for the platform.

There is a risk that certain features will be missing from the smartphone market during the smartphone platform showdown. One will be the support for WPS “quick-setup” functionality for Wi-Fi networks. These devices really need to benefit from this technology – how could you enter a WPA passphrase that is “security-ideal” in to a phone with a 12-key keypad or “picking through” a small QWERTY keypad. As well, most of the desireable wireless routers and access points that are being released at the moment are now equipped with WPS, These phones should have support for WPS, preferably as part of the operating system’s Wi-Fi functionality, but at least as a reliable application that the user downloads to the device for free.

As well, DLNA media-management support should be available across all of the platforms, preferably as a playback and download (to local storage) function and a media control point. Similarly, the phone could be set up to act as a media server so that pictures taken with the phone’s camera can be shown on larger screens. At the moment, Symbian is providing the functionality native to their S60 3rd Edition platform and third parties, mostly hobbyist developers, are developing implementations for use on the Apple iPhone and Windows Phone platforms.

It will be very interesting over these next few model years as we observe mobile phone manufacturers, smartphone operating-system developers, independent application developers and mobile phone service providers grapple with this new reality.