Steve Ballmer has always been friendly and dismissive to Apple at the same time. He has made a habit of praising Apple before dismissing it altogether as a company that doesn’t have too much market-share in markets that are dominated by Microsoft. But Apple iPhone has put Microsoft in a delicate situation. iPhone has helped Apple increase its market-share in the mobile market and with the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple became an absolute beast of a player to beat in the mobile market. Let’s not forget the App Store has played a big part in Apple’s success with iPhone. Microsoft may not be coming up with too many original ideas in this market, but it certainly understands what makes an iPhone an almost unbeatable phone. That is the reason Microsoft has come out with a plan to attract iPhone developers and build its very own App Store.
Windows Marketplace Mobile is expected to launch later this year, and Microsoft is shooting for iTunes-like success. For that to happen, Microsoft will need to give a good reason to developers to make them want to focus more on Windows Mobile apps. To make things as easy as possible, Microsoft has gone out of its way to show developers how to port their applications from the iPhone to a Windows Mobile Device. While the process can take a bit time and is not easy to implement for a lot of iPhone apps, it shows Microsoft’s intent in making Windows Marketplace a major competitor to the App Store. But that won’t be enough.
Microsoft will need to pull a few more aggressive strategies in order to improve its position in the mobile industry. Microsoft has become a follower in many markets. It’s clearly following Google in the online search industry (with Bing). Microsoft’s Windows 7 looks like a Mac OS clone. And now the company is trying to steal Apple’s thunder by developing an alternative to the App Store. But picking up its competitors’ best strategies will only go so far. Microsoft needs to bring back the culture of innovation if it truly wants to compete with innovative companies such as Google and Apple. The strategy of imitation won’t win Microsoft the war.
Your turn: if you could port an iPhone app to Windows Mobile, which one would it be?