It is almost a tragic story for Microsoft. As Apple unveiled its latest iteration of iPhone and the brand-new 10th anniversary edition dubbed iPhone X, Microsoft did actually shot its foot despite its multi-year head start in mobile business.
Traced back in 2000, Microsoft embarrassed the notion of mobility with the introduction of the Windows Mobile for PDA and smartphones. But no one saw Apple coming from the ashes and ate it its market share slowly but surely when it unveiled iPhone in 2007.
It was a real threat. And it was too late.
It was too late for Microsoft for a simple reason. When Windows Phone 7 was revealed in 2010, three years after iPhone, the mobile ecosystem was dominated by Apple and Google. Despite the steady improvements of Windows Phone and the doomed acquisition of Nokia, consumers yawed and were bored by the lack of a rigid ecosystem from Microsoft. Windows Phone Store was a complete disaster. Flagship apps from iOS and Android were not even available on the Windows Phone Store.
Despite Microsoft’s vast resources, they simply couldn’t compete in a mobile oriented market that had quickly pegged them as irrelevant. Indeed, even as Windows Phone launched, many were quick to proclaim that the initiative was doomed from the start.
Another reason is that Microsoft was focused on Windows and Office products, which are simply the company cash-cows. While Apple focused on hardware and Google on the search engines and mobile ecosystem.
The Longhorn project that Microsoft embarked back in early 2000s, was amid the reasons that Microsoft missed the boat to get into the mobile business. By the time Longhorn was completed and renamed as Vista, iPhone in its first iteration hit the shelves. Microsoft needed to refocus on how to correct the Vista mistake. By the time Windows 7 and 8 hit the computer landscape, Apple and Google enjoyed their two house race, as Microsoft was seen from their rear view mirror.
If Microsoft engineers and executives had experienced that same type of urgency, the smartphone market today might very well look a lot different than it does today.