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iPhone Gets Exchange Support - Good or Bad for Windows Mobile?

You may have heard the news. Here's our live color commentary of the iPhone SDK event. There's a lot of information to parse out with regards to how this will shake out with Windows Mobile -- including how the applications on the iPhone looked stunning compared to most WM apps. More on that later. For now, let's talk about this: Apple licensed Exchange Active Sync.

What's it mean? Read on!

So the iPhone will gain push email, contacts, and calendar. That's big news for Microsoft - they'll pick up a lot of new users for their server products. In a lot of ways it's a bigger attack on RIM than it is on Windows Mobile. First - Apple denigrated the NOC during their presentation - just like Palm did - saying that a 3rd party in the middle is a Bad Idea. It's also a big attack on RIM because now two platforms do their push email via Exchange - Windows Mobile and the iPhone. Together the two might actually have a bigger marketshare than RIM for enterprise in very short order.

But now that the iPhone will support Exchange, will we see an exodus from WM to the iPhone? We'll definitely see some movement in that direction, yes. On the other hand, I am fairly confident in two things.

First, Exchange Active Sync Features on Windows Mobile will always be more advanced.notice, for example, that Apple seems to be writing their own management program instead of using Microsoft's RIM-Server-Killing Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager. So lock down, provisioning, and other management features will be more advanced with Windows Mobile. Yet that's the smaller point.

The second point is the bigger point: Apple's licensing of Active Sync is very likely to grow the overall Exchange pie at a much faster rate than their slice of it will steal from Windows Mobile. Which is to say, yes, some WM users will defect, but there will be even more new Windows Mobile users by dint of the ever-growing standardization on Exchange for mobile push email for enterprise.

...Or so it seems to me. Microsoft has until the release of the Apps in June to come up with something that looks like a response to the new features that will appear on the iPhone. Will they be able to deliver?

WC Staff
WC Staff
13 Comments
  • I think its a good thing, even though its likely to hurt WM initially....in the end it will force Microsoft to really up their game, as Windows Mobile hasn't really made a huge leap forward in years.
  • You would also think that the little thought-experiment above would have been carried out by MS themselves, lol.
    There is also this issue: while the iPhone is certainly hip and cool to have, how many enterprise institutions will roll-out the device to their employees? I would imagine not many since the overall impression by professional smartphone users is the iPhone is media/entertainment-centric than productivity-based--then there is the associated cost of the device vs. say a ~$150 WM smartphone.
    So at least those employees who want to use their iPhone for work (and assuming their IT dept okay's it) then this will benefit those users, but I doubt we'll see companies placing orders for 400 iPhones to replace or instead of the WM counterpart.
    We'll see!
  • This is bad, very, very bad.
  • Its good news. Symbian (100 million phones/ year) has had exchange support for years. This just means a WM phone is now interchangeable with a IPhone, which means a united from against RIM.
    Surur
  • Excellent point, Surur. Can't believe I forgot that Symbian had Exchange support too.
    As I was telling CrackBerry Kevin - I think that it won't be long before the vast majority of people don't equate BlackBerry with push email. Right now they think "I want email now, I must want a BlackBerry." Now that Exchange is becoming more common, they'll think "I want email now, I want to make sure I can get Exchange at work."
  • Palm also supports Exchange Activesync, for what it's worth.
  • I love my Mogul and WinMo 6...and never thought I would say this in a million years...but yesterday's Apple announcements did have me clicking over to the death stars website :( WinMo is in serious trouble as well as BlackBerry. I really didnt expect SteveO to open up the IPhone for developers as far as he did. I really thought it would be seriously crippled by a ton of restrictions. The two negatives I've heard from Crunchgear, who got their hands on the SDK Developer agreement, is it looks like Apple will not allow apps to run in the background and access an internet connection. And it will only allow one app to run at a time. But with a 3G Iphone in the future, which will make better use of the pipes, I'm sure that will change. Microsoft needs to SERIOUSLY step up their game or be left in the dust. Sad day for WinMo.
  • I love my Mogul and WinMo 6...and never thought I would say this in a million years...but yesterday's Apple announcements did have me clicking over to the death stars website :( WinMo is in serious trouble as well as BlackBerry.
    I agree that Exchange integration finally makes the iPhone business-capable. I really didnt expect SteveO to open up the IPhone for developers as far as he did. I really thought it would be seriously crippled by a ton of restrictions. The two negatives I've heard from Crunchgear, who got their hands on the SDK Developer agreement, is it looks like Apple will not allow apps to run in the background and access an internet connection. And it will only allow one app to run at a time. But with a 3G Iphone in the future, which will make better use of the pipes, I'm sure that will change. Microsoft needs to SERIOUSLY step up their game or be left in the dust. Sad day for WinMo.
    I dont see why the restrictions would be lifted for a 3G iPhone. If anything concerns for battery life would become more acute. Also while Apple has shows how supposedly open they are, that have only hinted at how closed they are. We know they will not publish all apps, and 3rd party apps are second class citizen's with the ability to multi-task for example. We still dont know if Apple will allow the interface to be changed by a 3rd party app.
    Its still early days as far as I am concerned, and I expect more and more bad news will flow out of the community once the SDK hype wears off.
    Surur
  • Excellent point, Surur. Can't believe I forgot that Symbian had Exchange support too.
    As I was telling CrackBerry Kevin - I think that it won't be long before the vast majority of people don't equate BlackBerry with push email. Right now they think "I want email now, I must want a BlackBerry." Now that Exchange is becoming more common, they'll think "I want email now, I want to make sure I can get Exchange at work."
    Nokia of course also offer software for BlackBerry connection on S60 phones. I did wonder for a while whether Apple might go the same route - until I read Steve's comments on BB yesterday that is!
  • I dont see why the restrictions would be lifted for a 3G iPhone.
    Because 3G allows simultaneous voice and data?
  • Because 3G allows simultaneous voice and data?
    I dont see how that makes a difference. Most of a time a phone isn't actually in a phone call. Its just Apple avoiding the close button.
    Surur
  • You might be right. If it was a means to stop third party apps using EDGE and blocking incoming calls it really wouldn't be relevant to data over Wifi. You might not want, say, an audio streaming app running in the background using EDGE if that meant no one could ring you while it was working, but no reason why it shouldn't be allowed to run in the backgroud if it was streaming over Wifi.
  • As to the original question. My take:
    Bad in the short-term as some of the existing user base switches from WM to iPhone;
    Could be good, could be bad in the longer-term, depending on how any increase in the user base balances against loss of existing customers.