back to article Microsoft sees its chance in Googlephone

Microsoft has once again questioned Google's mobile strategy, insisting that Mountain View will have trouble attracting - and keeping - OS partners now that the company is selling its very own Googlephone. Speaking with Bloomberg this past week, Redmond mobile boss Robbie Bach predicted that Google's decision to serve as both …


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  1. Lewis Mettler 1

    being rubbish and costing money does matter

    If Apple was doing what Google is trying it might be different.

    But, offering an Android phone is not an exclusive deal at all. It is not exclusive with the operators. And it is not exclusive with Google. Google is just another channel.

    And while it is easy to understand why some operators might be a bit miffed about Google, there are many versions of the Android phone to be worried about. Google's phone is just one of them.

    Even switching to Microsoft means nothing. Any operator still has to complete with all of the other Android phones plus the one from Google. Plus Microsoft insists upon being paid money. Android does not.

    Certainly all of the operators that have looked at the Android software knew from the start that they were not going to be looking at anything close to an exclusive deal.

  2. twilkins

    LG going great guns for Android

    Motorola and Verizon may be miffed, but other Open Handset Alliance members are only too happy to commit to an Android future:

    "Half of all new smart phones released this year by LG Electronics Inc. will be based on Google Inc.`s Android operating system, the Korean company`s top executive said Thursday, according to Yonhap News."

  3. Joel Mansford
    Thumb Up

    But it's free!?

    I'm sure no one likes new competition, especially from a company with a wallet the size of Google's. However, unless I'm mistaken Android is still a free mobile OS.

    This means that handset manufacturers don't have to re-invent the wheel or license in Windows Mobile - that has to be compelling still.

  4. Fazal Majid

    Microsoft has an even worse record of treachery

    As the media player manufacturers who were suckered by PlaysForSure can attest when Microsoft ditched them for its go-alone Zune.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Anyone remeber the Sendo phone?

      Microsoft really screwed them and they didn't last long after that.

  5. Nuno

    that depends

    If I were on google's shoes, I would sell a different handset for each new major version of the OS but, for each new device, I would make the partnership with a different manufacturer (only the most reliable ones). This way they would make everyone happy and spice up the competition. I think that, apart from them owning the OS, they are doing the same that Vodafone does, when they order a Vodafone branded phone from the likes of Sharp, Nokia, etc.

  6. Ralph B

    MOT and Crap

    > Windows Mobile costs money. And it's rubbish.

    Judging from previous form, employing a useless phone OS would be no problem for Motorola ... as they spiral further down the toilet.

  7. IT specialist

    Microsoft is an aimless loser

    The #1 phone OS is still Symbian. Developed by Nokia, which also makes handsets.

    If Microsoft doesn't want its own handset, then why did it buy Danger Inc, a year or so ago? Danger's expertise was mainly in hardware. Pity Microsoft let it rot, in fact, turned it into one of the biggest fiascos, when Microsoft accidentally deleted the personal data of 1 million phone owners, and kept no back-up.

    Yes, Microsoft bought the expertise to make its own handset. It's Microsoft's 'Plan B', when all the phone OEMs have deserted the debilitated Windows Mobile platform, it can make its own Microsoft Phone without upsetting anyone.

    Microsoft's Windows Mobile is a complete train wreck, and one of the biggest debacles in computing history (eliminating Microsoft's place in the next era of computing... mobile).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Hmmm, let me see now ...

    "Yeah we can put WM on it but then the costings work out a bit top heavy and there is a lot of integration with google flavoured cloud stuff that isn't really present on WM."

    Two entirely different business models: hitch up for a free ride to glory OR pay a premium for something that probably delivers less?

  9. Lars Silver badge

    Well Cade Metz, you said it

    I agree.

  10. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Developers developers developers

    Developing for Android is free.

    To develop for Windows Mobile you need the paid-for versions of MS Visual Studio and a Windows PC.

    To develop for the iPhone is annoying as it's quite hard to get things onto the App Store.

    1. Owen Smith

      no you dont

      the last time i bothered to develop an app for WM the toolset was free

      facts, we've heard about them

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is "free" really free?

    The actual OS licence cost is a small fraction of the total cost of any system. What's much more relevant is TCO (total cost of ownership). If the "free" OS's like Linux and such really cost less overall, Windows would have died decades ago.

    1. Linbox

      It's the applications, dummy

      Microsoft have always pushed the TCO bullshit very hard, but the truth is that users like familiar applications (Word, Excel, Outlook) and business software like Sage, Navision, etc, etc runs almost exclusively on Windows.

      Phone's don't have all that legacy crap and people accept that the OS on their phone doesn't need to be Windows, because it never was before.

    2. Jim Morrow
      Thumb Down

      re: is free really free?

      paul showering says "If the "free" OS's like Linux and such really cost less overall, Windows would have died decades ago.".

      in a word, no. it doesn't work like that. price is not the only consideration. although their fare for a london (ish) to stockholm (ish) flight can be a fraction of ba's or sas's, ryanair don't get everyone's business.

      open source loses to windoze for a bunch of reasons. these include advertising and marketing; redmond's stranglehold on distribution channels; developer support; availability of third-party applications; fucked up and ever-changing linux APIs and GUIs; vendor lock-in; a well established network of lobbyists to influence key decision-makers; availability of system administrators and IT support; training; documentation; etc, etc.

      suppose you supplied commercial software, say an accounts package. if you were to develop a linux version, would it be for GNOME, KDE or raw X windows? would you take the risk of some pasty faced youth changing an API or "upgrading" one of the libraries in the linux distro that your software depends on? which flavour of linux and package manager(s) would you choose? how would you get your software bundled with the distros or get the likes of dixons (spit!) to stock it?

  12. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    Kinda like the graphics market...

    This sounds a lot like the bleating nVidia does about ATI. "ATI will steal crusts of bread from the mouths of your children, because it not only works with partners to create cards, but markets one itself!" [Sprinkle with appropriate amounts sensationalism and a cloud of fanbois.]

    ATI is still around, and still producing top-notch gear. They still have partners that sell their designs and they still sell their own cards. Partners differentiate themselves in a number of innovative ways, and the ATI-branded cards have come to mean "vanilla implementation."

    nVidia does a Microsoft, and deals with "partners." So far as I know, there is no nVidia-branded card.

    Intel does the Apple thing, producing shite product for a high price, own-branded with no partners. [Had to word it that way, sorry Apple fanbois, it's the troll in me.]

    Now, of course, these aren't perfect analogues, but it seems to me that all three business models have their place.

    1. The BigYin

      No nVidia card?

      Eh? I've got one. When I ordered it, it was all "nVidia" this or that, no mention of any other manufacturer. The card itself only states "nVidia", all the drivers are "nVidia" and other rleated software is all "nVidia".

      Also, unlike ATI, nVidia at least provides drivers and support for Linux. It may be proprietary, but at least they exist. Until ATI do likewise, I will not buy an ATI card.

      1. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

        The BigYin

        Actually sold by nVidia? I'd love a picture of the box the card came in. I've never seen an nVidia video card. I've seen cards using nVidia chips that are sold by ASUS, MSI, EVGA, BFG, XFX and Zotac. The box clearly states in big letters which company is selling the card, but it's never nVidia-branded.

        (It might be an nVidia GT280 class chip, but it's made, manufactured and sold by one of the partners.)

        The drivers are nVidia, (as they are the original chip designers,) but this is no different than many similar companies. (When was the last time you bought a Realtek sound card? Realtek makes the drivers, but the chips are incorporated onto motherboards, as opposed to discreet units that are sold by Realtek.)

        As to your buying/not buying video cards from a specific manufacturer, everyone has their preferences. The comment wasn't about fanboyism, it was about pointing out similar business models.

        If you want a bit of a fanboy-off however…I personally will never buy nVidia due to Jen Hsun Huang being a gigantic douchebag. The ridiculous number of nVidia cards I've had implode on me in the 8600/8800 series, (and thier related "we rebranded the card as a different number in a higher series) chips has cost me a lot of time and money. Oh yeah, and the whole fact that nVidia rebrands their cards instead of designing news ones. (When I buy a 9600, I want a distinct item, not a rebadged 8800, etc.) Slightly less important, but still a factor is that every time I have encountered nVidia reps at a convention etc. they have been unfriendly and fairly difficult to deal with. The ATI guys have always been charming, polite and helpful. Mind you, that could be that ATI is Canadian, so I just “speak the language.”

        Also on my list is Sony. I still haven’t forgiven them for the whole rootkit fiasco, nor am I a fan of their constant attempts to create a proprietary format that they dominate and can charge us through the nose for. (Like they did with minidisc.) Their quality is shoddy and Acer-like. Their products are inferior and Acer-like. Their prices are about Acer*2. (And they don’t interoperate with anything!)

        Of course all of the above statements can not and do not apply to all products made by these companies, but reflect my personal experiences with these companies and the products they make. Do something good, and a person tells two of his friends. Do something terrible and they tell the whole block…

      2. Rex Alfie Lee

        Actually, ATI DOOO Support Linux...

        Maybe it's AMD who own ATI now but if you buy an AMD board with an ATI card you get the drivers that will update automatically in Ubuntu at least.

  13. paul brain

    My favourite line

    Nice article.

    Best line = 'Unlike Android, Windows Mobile costs money. And it's rubbish.'

    Microsoft are worried, and they should be. 6.5 is pants, I doubt 7 will be any better. Android is free and pretty solid. This is really non-news. Everyone can make an android phone, even me. So why not the people that spent the time to develop and release it ?

    I'm pretty excited about a common mobile platform, its about time. Android will be that glue.

  14. Tzael


    Some of us are happy to pay the premium for Windows Mobile, especially 6.5 and soon version 7. While Android may be free in one sense, it certainly doesn't come without a price.

    Options for mobile phone operating systems are limited. Some of us don't want the all-too-common iPhone, and we certainly don't want our mobile phone activities overseen by a chocolate factory that tells us that if we're worried about privacy, stop whatever we're doing.

    Palm's mobile devices certainly count as an alternative, as do BlackBerry phones running RIM's own OS. Then of course there are the devices running Windows Mobile. If I pay the premium for Windows Mobile then I'm not getting locked into some proprietary system and I can easily transfer the data in a usable format to other computerised devices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "If I pay the premium for Windows Mobile then I'm not getting locked into some proprietary system..."

      Do you read your own posts?

      1. Tzael

        Re: ROFL

        Yes I am well aware of how those who are not directly familiar with Windows Mobile will perceive my comment. Try it for yourself before you have a chuckle, you'll find that all Microsoft applications on Windows Mobile allow for data content to be stored or exported into formats that can be used on a wide variety of competitor solutions.

  15. Ryan 7
    Jobs Horns

    WM ships 90% of it's non-enterprise licenses on HTC silicon anyway.

    Even the new Sonys are HTC designs. (Sonies? Sony's?)

    And from Acer, Asus, Samsung, and Toshiba, I wouldn't expect any of them so stage a coup...

    So if Google go HTC-only, it wouldn't be that different!

  16. Il Midga di Macaroni

    Who is Google's customer?

    The bottom line is, every business has to do what's best for its customer. The question is, who is Google's customer?

    In the purest sense, the people who buy ads are - they're the ones that pay $$$ to Google. In a smaller way, people who buy phones are - they also pay $$$, but the revenue stream from phones will be a drop in the bucket compared to ads.

    The only reason Google should pay any attention to Motorola or Verizon (or for that matter, HTC or T-Mobile) is if they consider that keeping those companies happy will allow Google to give better service to their customers.

    Unfortunately the real losers here are the phone users. (Losers as in the ones who lose out of the deal, not lusers.) They/we would really love to have all Android phones equal in software - none of this rubbish where 2.1 is only available on the Nexus One, 1.6 is incompatible with 2.0, etc. Ditto for the developers - they don't want to have to rehash their code every time a new version of the OS comes out.

    Hopefully Android turns out like Java a few years back - 1.1.8 was incompatible with 1.3 and we all had two versions of Java running on our systems, until 1.4.2 came along and brought the code bases back together. /me is looking forward to Android 3.0...

    1. The BigYin


      "The bottom line is, every business has to do what's best for its customer"

      Not quite. Every business has to do what's best for the *shareholders*.

      That may, or may not, be what's best for the customer.

      Just as the banks, insurance and endowment companies. They sure as hell do not do what is best for the customer.

  17. Cliff

    Remember who controls the gates though

    The Nexus launched with v2.1 of Android, whilst other 'partner' manufacturers were only given v2.0 with no access to 2.1 yet. If the playing field were level, I'd say no foul, but keeping the latest releases for yourself is just mean. MS at least have a mature release schedule policy not favouring one manufacturer over another for Windows, etc.

  18. frymaster

    andoid costs too least if you want the google apps (most importantly the app store)

    (google maps is nice, but I can always use the web version if I had to)

  19. Charles Manning

    Anyone trust the MS crystal ball?

    Given how badly MS predicted the iphone uptake I'm not going to listen to MS mobile predictions any more.

  20. jackharrer

    Same MSFT as few years ago?

    Do you still remember comments of Steve B. about iPhone? I wouldn't trust them too much when it comes to forecasting future...

  21. Graham Dawson Silver badge


    "Redmond says it has no intention of offering one, insisting it will focus on supporting other phone makers and carriers with its Windows Mobile OS."

    Didn't Google say that last year?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Microspft getting into mobile phones would be great

    As long as they use someone else's OS. Windows Mobile is a slow bloated OS that seems to be designed to cripple phones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Horns

      M$ Getting in too would be great. But...

      ...only because it could be that final bridge too far and sink the bastards. YES! And in the meantime, maybe they will save us ten bucks each on our google-phones through their pathetic attempt at competition (inverted commas). M$ pissed off too many for too long. They made their bed. No one trusts them. Apple are doing the same. So far, Google have never tried to rip me off (in a way I could not get around) and have provided many v nice things for nothing. Just sticking it to M$ was worth some respect and doing Apple too. Great. Now they are trying to buy renewable energy and drive progress there too. Nice job.

      Google can probably make their money skimming data from the masses who fail to protect their privacy whilst still providing the functionality for those that care to protect themselves to some degree. It is like having idiots pay for your phone for you. You can still ignore any and all ads.

  23. earthwirehead

    the only 'opportunity' I see here for Microsoft..

    ... is to spread more FUD about a competitor they are otherwise unable to touch. If M$ has been unable so far to find vendor partners for WinMobile, it's hard to see how the success OR failure of the Nexus is going to change the game for them now.

    What? are we going to see an unlocked 'Microsoft Phone'? Outside of the utterly zombified M$ fanboys no IT dept seems to be without, I'm at a loss to envision the market for it.

  24. N2


    Just like they laughed at the iPhone?

  25. Andy Barker

    Windows Mobile is rubbish?

    Was that last sentence deliberate bait, opinion, or plain arrogance?

    Personally I've found Windows Mobile does all the things I want of it better than any other phone I've tried. It certainly doesn't do everything well, but then neither do the alternatives.

    I want to make calls, send & receive SMS, sync with Exchange, and use TomTom. All 4 Windows Mobile phones I've had over the years have done that very well.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    re:developers developers developers

    Being a developer is no good if you can't sell your app. What you need is a place where everyone knows they can find your app and where everyone one goes regardless of which app they were initially looking for.

    Oh wait, that would be the AppStore...

    Actually, Google may be able to pull off something similar using search rather than a single repository, but that seems like a relatively, complicated and messy solution.

  27. Lyle Dietz

    Windows Mobile == crap

    We tried a few WM devices here, linking people to their Exchange boxes. That was easy enough, but I couldn't edit the Access Points properly. Telstra provides a nice APN that gives us a direct link back to head office, but there is no way to tell WM about it. Nokias gave me no issues, and also allow synchronising with Exchange over-the-air, and if I ever get really, really lazy, and brush of my old notes, I know I can also configure APNs via SMS.

    Nokia S60 phones are the only ones I'll work with now.

  28. Justin Clements

    Missing the point

    I think some posters are missing the point about Android and the comment it may be free.

    Motorola, LG and the other Android partners sell phones. That is their business, its what they do.

    But now the company behind the OS is launching their own branded phone. Google is not a mobile phone company.

    So the partners will simply see sales that should have been theirs being taken away from them. And it doesn't matter how many sales Google makes, those sales are made at the expense of Motorola, LG and the rest.

    The upside of this is that Motorola and the rest could well look at Linux more closely as a base OS for their future Android phones. But instead of Google's OS, they put a home grown Linux on, or any other mobile phone Linux OS.

    As for Android, its fascinating watching Google screw up in such style. Its not often we get to watch car crash commerce in motion!

    Android is dead. Google killed it with love.

  29. Mikel
    Jobs Horns

    Sendo. Sendo. Sendo. Sendo!

    How soon we forget...

    Yeah, rush right into Microsoft's embrace they will - like cats to the bath. Directly into this:

    They'll run to Microsoft because the CEOs and board chairmen of the world's largest phone corporations - previously pragmatic old men - have secretly been replaced by highly emotional fifteen year old girls who are "particularly miffed".

    @frymaster: Yes, contrary to Google's expectations, phone partners are opting to pay rather than go the free route. They get some nice integration services and as you note, some apps and in return give some money and some access to the experience. They seem to be liking the deal so far, but if they change their minds they can always build their own platform because Android is free also. Google doesn't care - they just want people to have a phone with a decent browser so they can sell ads on their services - which are 12 of the world's top 40 websites right now, and a good share of the top 200.

    WinMo 6.5 is, as some here have noted, pants. They're going to rush the production of 7 as well because of that - and they just rebooted the team last February so expect exciting new crashy bugs and security vulnerabilities as the new team gets up to speed:

    Meanwhile Roz Ho is still VP of Premium Mobile Experiences (PMX) even after the Danger disaster, which may define the word inexplicable:

    And even Microsoft's affectionate friend Gartner is predicting the rise of the open phone OS:

    Yeah, WinMo is going to sweep up these disgruntled phone partners and deliver them from the evil Google, when Google hasn't actually done any dirty cheating underhanded tricks yet, nor demonstrated active gross incompetence. I can see that happening - not.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google must be quaking

    After all , MS are really good at predicting the future, especially in the mobile market. They got the iPhone flop spot on.

  31. Neal 5

    Is it just the 'phone and OS

    hat is the only problem here?. With it's massive network and potential for VOIP that it can provide, this is only a stepping stone to taking on the mainstream networks is it not?

    Anyone seen Pinky and the Brain lately? This time my money is on the Brain actually winning, Pinky has been hamstrung.

  32. g e

    Just goes to show...

    MSFT have no clue what Google's strategy may be and so they poo-poo it instead cos they can't just keep their trap shut for once. Or maybe they really think people believe what they say and it loses Google customers by doing so.

    It might be the hard way (in MSFT land) to do things but Google specialise in hard where MSFT just buy other people who can do hard cos they can't.

    I can't imagine some of the cunning coding and architecture that goes into the Google data centre and nor, I suspect, can MSFT; and that scares them. Into making dumbass comment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Horns


      M$ are just pretending they were not totally blindsided and or that any release of their own phone has just been well and truely shat on. Just guidance for the more gullible shareholders. Zero substance.

  33. The BigYin

    Seems I was right

    "Microsoft has once again questioned Google's mobile strategy, insisting that Mountain View will have trouble attracting - and keeping - OS partners now that the company is selling its very own Googlephone."

    Translation: MS will use contract negotiations with OEMs to force them to ditch/bury Android or only sell it on sub-standard kit.

    They have form for this - just ask Dell and a few others.

  34. Mage Silver badge


    In their dreams.

    If Android goes wrong (and that's unlikely much as I deplore the locked nature of phones and secretive development), then Palm, Rim, Apple, Limo, Moblin, maemo, Symbian, Nokia and others that use Symbian, Moblin, Limo, maemo etc will benefit. Not MS.

    MS was never strong outside USA market on Mobile. Even in the USA they are slaughtered. The biggest WinMo vendor was HTC, who makes Google's own phone. The same people own Via, who make ideal alternate chips for Netbooks, that are more suitable for Linux than Win7.

    MobileWin7 is the death rattle of WinCE in phones.

  35. Tim Bates
    Thumb Down

    One Word


    I suspect someone at MS has their knickers in a knot because their baby Zune didn't take off like the iPod, and their idea of a ZunePhone was knocked back.

  36. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Microsoft caught with its pants down (again)

    Yet again Microsoft has been caught with its pants around its corporate ankles.

    Remember Bill Gate's opinion of the WWW? MS got out of that one because it really only had Netscape as a competitor when it finally woke up.

    Then there was MS playing catch-up when Java came along and people realised there was something better than MS' offering of VC++ and VB. They dug themselves out of that one, too.

    Now they have been caught with their trousers down *again*, but this time they are an also-ran with the offerings from the likes of Apple, Google, Palm, Blackberry and Nokia *far* in the lead and with the muscle (unlike Netscape, Sun, etc) to ensure they trip over them and fall flat on their face.

  37. Robert E A Harvey
    Gates Horns


    Memo to Microsoft:

    If you want to be big in phones, try making an OS that is quite good.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Do many WM users go back after Android?

    I've owned Windows mobiles since the original orange SPV. The six handsets were great and I thought I had a great operating system when I owned them. That is until I got one of the new Android phones. It is intuitive, works with just one hand and I personally think the interface is very slick. You only need your thumb and it does away with the need for a stylus. Battery life is awesome considering most other smartphones can't see out the day. From where I sit, Google are going to kill off Windows mobile unless Microsoft can completely reinvent itself for WM7. Even then as most people say, it is only the fistful (bribes) of cash that will keep their partners interested. Making their own handset is not a problem, their only own goal so far I think has been cracking down on Cyanogen. They should have hired the guy instead.

    PS: I don't even have to reboot it every day like every other WM device I've owned.

    1. Joseph Kang

      Reboot every day?

      I have an HTC Touch Pro (WM 6.1) on Verizon Wireless in the US. For the most part, my device stays on for weeks at a time. I might reboot it every three weeks or so because the OS (or an installed app) has terrible memory management and I end up with 80% of RAM in use with nothing else running.

      But, I'm not a heavy user of my device (in terms of number of apps running at any one time). It usually has a Twitter app and Solitaire running constantly and that's about it.

      I deal with it as I deal with every other computing device I interact with on a daily basis (Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP, and OS X), they all have their good points, faults, and quirks. I just learn to deal with each device on its own. I've long outgrown the "mine is bigger/better than yours".

      I am thinking about my next device though. I'll be eligible for a discounted upgrade later this year. If the Nexus One does come to VZW as I've read, then that may be it. Otherwise, I may be looking at the Touch Pro 2 or Imagio.

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