Microsoft’s big attempt to reinvent itself in the smartphone industry is almost here: Steve Ballmer will unveil the company’s new Windows Mobile 7 operating system Monday morning at a conference in Barcelona. Join us for live coverage beginning at 9 a.m. ET. You can watch a live Webcast here.
Windows Mobile 7 is perhaps Microsoft’s last opportunity — if it’s not too late already — to become an important player in the mobile industry, without having to make a big acquisition.
It’s been several years since anyone has cared about Microsoft’s mobile offerings, while Research In Motion, Apple, and Google have recently surged.
To succeed, Microsoft will have to unveil something that’s pleasing to consumers, mobile operators, handset makers, and developers, as the smartphone war has become an apps war, and not just a who-has-the-thinnest-phone competition.
If Microsoft can’t eventually get mobile developers to write apps for its new platform, it’s not going to be able to compete. Then it may have to buy its way in, by purchasing RIM, or perhaps Palm. (Though Palm has not exactly soared since its newish WebOS platform launched, also struggling to get consumers and app makers interested.)
Potential Microsoft advantages: Its size, huge wad of cash to spend on marketing and greasing app makers, potential for synergy with Windows 7 on PCs, potential for synergy with the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, and potential to offer an Apple-like media ecosystem, with mobile music, TV, movie, book, and gaming services.