According to a Wednesday TechFlash report, during the Q&A session, one of the CIOs told Ballmer that the increasing prevalence of the iPhone and Android platforms, and the slow progress of Windows Mobile releases, makes it difficult for companies to get excited about the Windows Mobile platform.
Microsoft has taken a lot of heat for its slow Windows Mobile development pace, and its industry partners have been watching the steady pace of rivals' development efforts with no small amount of trepidation.
Last September, Microsoft announced that Windows Mobile 7, which had been slated for launch in early 2009, would be pushed back until the fall. Last week, Microsoft revealed that the Windows Mobile 7 has been delayed once again, until 2010. Meanwhile, Windows Mobile 6.5 has yet to be released.
Ballmer said Microsoft will release Windows Mobile 6.5 to cell phone makers this year, and reiterated the 2010 time frame for Windows Mobile 7. Ballmer also said that there are "opportunities for us to accelerate our execution in this area," according to the Techflash report.
However, Ballmer couldn't resist taking some jabs at Microsoft's rivals in this space, something that may have come off as a ploy to deflect attention from the very real questions about Microsoft's mobile strategy. Ballmer noted that last year Microsoft sold more Windows Mobile-powered devices than Apple sold iPhones, and that Google was "nowhere to be seen, except in Silicon Valley."
This sounds disturbingly similar to Microsoft executives' tactic of dropping lofty numbers for Windows Vista adoption to make the case that Vista adoption is chugging merrily along, despite all the evidence to the contrary. It's a tactic Microsoft would be wise not to replicate in its struggle to remain relevant in the hard-charging mobile industry.
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