With no OS launch, the Mobile World Conference has been a relatively quiet show for Microsoft. But Entertainment and Devices head Robbie Bach pushed home the point that not only had its OS developed incredibly over the last half-decade, but it would continue to – with the help of a new acquisition in the shape of Danger, a social networking and communication device provider.
According to Microsoft, 14.3 million Windows Mobile handsets were sold in the calendar year 2007. Pieter Knook, of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business Division, showed a rather rudimentary graphic showing RIM on 12 million sales and the iPhone hovering around the four million mark.
Software and services
Re-iterating the 'software and services' mantra shouted out at CES, Bach announced the acquisition of Danger. Bach admitted they weren't 100 per cent complementary to Microsoft's existing portfolio, but Danger will be integrated into the Windows Mobile world. "We'll work to…grow that business and integrate them."
The news created a little confusion at the press conference, since Danger is seen as more of a self-contained platform. However, the service does bring together mobile messaging, voice and data. The system provides data synchronisation over the air and even offers wireless software upgrades.
The intimation is clear – Microsoft admits that, thus far, it has been extremely business focused and wants to make Windows Mobile more appealing to general folk. It's no wonder it wants Yahoo with its excellent mobile software – a topic which Microsoft wasn't prepared to answer questions on.
Bach said that devices are now fulfilling the potential first suggested a few years back - "Software and services are playing a central role in making that happen" - but made it clear there was a way to go. There are now 20 million devices with WM on them, but Bach said Microsoft was "expanding work on Windows Mobile to complete the picture".
"Five years ago [these were] business phones. [Now] these are devices that 'span your life'. Bach said Windows Mobile is now a general purpose computing platform but said it wouldn't replace the PC. Well of course not! This is Microsoft, after all.
Crucially, Bach welcomed SonyEricsson on board – clearly something of a coup for Microsoft. He also re-showed the Microsoft Mobile Vision concept from CES. "A foldable-phone, I suppose is the way to say it."
"The point of this is to point out the direction of what's happening in the mobility space," said Bach.