Microsoft is making a series of moves marking the end of the Windows Phone. Last week, the company announced it was ending support for Windows Phone 8.1. This includes laying off their mobile phone staff last year, saying that the company was no longer focusing on phones.
With Microsoft’s smartphone platform market share nearing zero, and other operating systems like BlackBerry and Symbian also going down, the smartphone market finally gave way to the predominance of Apple and Google.
Google’s Android operating system now owns about 86 percent of the global smartphone market share. Apple’s iOS iPhone has a smaller market share, though its phones are much more expensive and thus take an over-sized chunk of revenue.
Microsoft lost the smartphone market even though it entered there much earlier than Apple or Google. Its Windows Mobile was one of the first touch-based mobile OS in the early 2000s and was used by handset makers like Motorola, Palm and Samsung, even though it lacked power and sophistication. When Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007, with desktop-class software capabilities and multi-touch controls, Microsoft was nowhere near competitive.
Microsoft announced its first Windows Phone in 2010. The Windows Phone was visually compelling and critically applauded, and some thought it could win big. Some research firms even predicted that Microsoft’s phone would overtake the iPhone by 2015. That never happened even though there was a 3 percent peak for Windows Phone during 2013. In 2014, Microsoft acquired Nokia for $7.2 billion in a last-ditch effort to save Microsoft’s smartphone business with an integrated hardware-software business model similar to that of iPhone. However that didn’t work either, and it slowly went down to lose everything.
Moral of the story : If a company is too slow to recognize the need for new capability and delays innovation, it will fail its business, just like how Microsoft failed its smartphone business.