Microsoft Shake Up to Lead to Zune Phone?

Apparently we weren't the only ones who found Microsoft's services strategy utterly confusing and slapdash -- Microsoft did too. To that end, as reported by All About Microsoft, they're splitting up their Platforms and Services unit into two different units as well as giving the previous president of that division a retirement to go work for Juniper networks.

The two new divisions will be “Windows/Windows Live” and “Online Services Business.” The W/WL will have three folks in charge and the OSB will get a new guy. Steve Ballmer sent out a letter to the company about the changes with some interesting tidbits about their feelings on Google, Apple, and Yahoo. Short version: We're working on search and Apple's done better with the “end-to-end” experience.

There's plenty to parse here, including the possibility of a Zune phone, so read on!

Zune Phone?

When Ballmer writes “We'll do the same with phones--providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences,” it's likely to start up the rumor mill again with regard to that Zune phone he's repeatedly denied being interested in. Well, that and the fact that JKOnTheRun has it from an inside source that we'll see it based on Windows Mobile 7 (oh, btw, congrats guys!).

I'll stay neutral on the Zune Phone -- ok no I won't: I'm not opposed, but I'd prefer to see Zune features included in all Windows Mobile Phones, okay? I still like Microsoft's strategy of working with hardware partners to make Windows Mobile quite a bit, I just wish there'd be some more consistency (and hotness) across the different handsets. If Microsoft were to throw their own hat into the hardware market, I hope they can find a way to do it that doesn't undercut the entire ecosystem by introducing yet another non-standard Windows Mobile interface into the mix. So Microsoft: go ahead and make your Zune Phone, but offer the innovations therein to your partners, ok?


Back to the Windows Live branding debacle. I'd like to think that this new split is going to help things along. I'd like to think that, but I don't. Windows Mobile is precisely the sort of platform that needs to straddle the gap between traditional business space services that will fall under the “Online Services Business” and consumer-focused services that are part of “Windows Live.”

It's all very frustrating, because the truth of the matter is that Microsoft's offering is much better than anything anybody else has put out there except for RIM. There are some quirks and bugs with Windows Live on Windows Mobile, sure, but they're nothing compared to the Mobile Me mess right now. Toss in Live Mesh and Live Search and you have yourself an excellent suite of great online, cloud-based apps. That's not even counting what we see coming, consumer-wise, after the Danger acquisition.

In poker terms, Microsoft has a straight right now, they just haven't noticed yet because they can't seem to put the cards in the right order. With any luck, they'll be smart enough to keep betting, stay in the game, and take a shot at the big money.

  • Excellent analysis! Zune Phone could do for WinMob what Zune did for PlaysForSure, and that wouldn't be a good thing.
    However, a single, integrated offering that leverages their incredibly wide footprint would be killer, but they've never been able to do that. (And for partners, having touch/no touch and all the different hardware forms makes it a complex endeavor I don't see them getting around elegantly).
    But something simpler? Sony is doing PS3 -> PSP media sync. Windows Media Center > Xbox/Extender > Zune/WinMob/Phone with *one* marketplace and ecosystem... Killer.
    On the flip side:
  • Why are phonedifferent articles always flamebait?
  • They're not, just the ones where we poke fun at Microsoft.
    ...and let's face it, they deserve a poke today. :D
  • Is calling something flamebait that's clearly not flamebait, in and of itself flamebait?
    Dude (or dudette?), I can't believe what Microsoft is doing. The post is sincere. The branding is a mess. And targeting Google I understand, but targeting Apple? Sure, Apple gets press, but MS gets sales.
    What can Gates turn in if he's still alive? His rumpled shirt? Fine. Gates is turning in his rumpled shirt right now.
    How about a coordinated Windows 7, Windows Mobile 7 (w/Zune media built in), Xbox 520 launch in 2009 with shared marketplace and transparent content mobility, powered by Live! and subsidized by add revenue where appropriate?
    Forget Apple, give me that!
  • wha's good wm family.... my name is chris and ive had several wm devices.... to me microsoft has the best technology compared to me it's the screen size and clarity..... the iphone doesn't even come close to the touch diamond or pro or many other wm devices. what would u rather have, a 13" plasma or a 60" plasma? NUFF SAID!!!!!!! like the ladies say " size matters" i would like to see htc up the screen size to at least 3" on all devices.
  • I'm a recent fan of Apple. I wouldn't say I'm a "convert" or a "fanboy" since I find those terms quite limiting. I am, however, a huge fan of INNOVATION. I've owned it all - except a Zune. But I must say, my Treo 700wx at its best was simply a great way to tether my laptop to a broadband connection.
    Godson66, I hear you on the screen real estate issue but I have to admit...I love looking at my iPhone screen. It is bright and gorgeous and everything I wish a Windows Mobile device would be.
    I spent over $10G on becoming a MCSE and at the time, I loved where Microsoft was going. But if I could retake those classes as an iPhone developer (like Harvard is now doing i think?), I would surely do so. Why? Because despite how cheap Microsoft is making the term "end to end" sound, it is a critical part of driving innovation.
    Microsoft has the resources and talent to reinvigorate the end-user-computer-experience. But do they have the vision? They are too distracted by competition, who but a short time ago used to not be competition, that they can't see past the bottom of their balance sheets.
    I'm a fanboy to no company or brand. Whoever comes up with the best product for the best value has my business. And right now Apple epitomizes that and more.
    So come on Microsoft... I'm ready to start a webpage dedicated to your latest coolest hottest greatness.
  • Like it or not Microsoft has become a fast follower and more times than not they get it right. The Zune might be an exception to this, but if you look at Windows (in the 80's), Exchange, MS Office, Xbox 360 and even this new Hyper V.
    I for one have no doubt MS has a strategy. Most tech media use Macs so they have chosen their favorite son and they generally let MS know about it everytime they have a chance.
    I think they are poised to create very viable consumer and enterprise products with Mesh and Silverlight. Is Windows Mobile ready to take advantage of this new strategy? I hope WinMo 7 is built to take advantage and still be open enough to run native google apps (gmail, gcalendar, greader w/ gears), incorporate GPS, 3G data and not kill a battery in a few hours.
    I hope MS's silence speaks volumes early next year.
  • I'm not an apple fan by the least, but I won't be too proud to have a Microsoft phone nor a Zune phone. Just check out this ad, , you will get the picture.
    You will see Microsoft full force of quality and thought into their products and customers.
    Just consider that video a preview once some one has a Zune phone.