Microsoft Entertainment and Devices President Robbie Bach recently listed the names of hardware companies the software giant will be working with closely on Windows Mobile going forward; the list did not include Motorola.
Mary Jo Foley quotes Bach as specifically naming “Samsung, LG, HP, HTC, Sony Ericcson and others…” as the companies Microsoft will work with on upcoming Windows Mobile handhelds. The fact that Motorola was not listed is worth noting; even if Moto was silently included as one of the “others” Bach referenced, the relationship would at least appear to be on rocky ground.
This isn’t the first indication we’ve seen that relations between Motorola and Microsoft were souring. In February, The Wall Street Journal suggested that Motorola planned to focus on other mobile operating systems and to move away from Windows Mobile entirely, a sentiment buttressed by Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha when he laid out the company’s future with Google’s Android OS.
A Motorola spokesperson was also quoted yesterday as saying that in 2009, Motorola’s “primary strategy is Android. With that said, Windows Mobile is very important for our enterprise mobility business.” Enterprise Mobility, formerly Symbol, makes ruggedized handheld devices like those used in Apple retail stores, not consumer smartphones. This would seem to confirm the future, at least in the near term, of Motorola’s consumer plans for Windows Mobile.
Speculation about the future of Windows Mobile has been all the rage in recent months, with suggestions that it may be too late for Microsoft to compete in the smartphone market with Android and Apple’s iPhone. The number of Windows Mobile handsets sold in 2008 was up over 2007 with approximately 20 million units sold, but its share of the smartphone market was down.
Microsoft hopes to improve its smartphone performance with Windows Mobile 6.5 later this year, and with the wholly-redesigned Windows Mobile 7 in 2010.