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Microsoft: we've got no plan B on mobile

Windows Phone 8

By Reuters

Posted on 14 Feb 2013 at 09:11

Microsoft doesn't have a "Plan B" if the company fails to make any significant headway in the mobile market, according to a senior executive.

"We're very focused on continuing the success we have with PCs and taking that to tablets and phones," Microsoft's chief financial officer Peter Klein said at the annual Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco.

Given Microsoft's lack of success so far, he was asked if there was an alternative strategy or 'Plan B' in reserve.

"It's less 'Plan B' than how you execute on the current plan," said Klein. "We aim to evolve this generation of Windows to make sure we have the right set of experiences at the right price points for all customers."

Microsoft now has two versions of its own-brand Surface tablet for sale and released Windows Phone 8 last year, but the company has not made big inroads into either market.

Gartner estimates that Microsoft sold fewer than 900,000 Surface tablets in the fourth quarter, which is a fraction of the 23 million iPads sold by Apple. Microsoft has not released its own figures but has not disputed Gartner's.

Windows phones now account for 3% of the global smartphone market, Gartner says, which is almost double their share a year ago but way behind Google's Android with 70% and Apple with 21%.

To grab more share, Klein said Microsoft was working with hardware makers to ensure Windows software is available on devices ranging from phones to tablets to larger all-in-one PCs.

"It's probably more nuanced than just you lower prices or raise prices," said Klein. "It's less a Plan B and more, how do you tweak your plan, how do you bring these things to market to make sure you have the right offerings at the right price points?"

Klein did not say whether Microsoft itself was planning to move into the growing small tablet market, following the success of Apple's iPad mini, Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet. Along with its partners, Klein said only that Microsoft was "well set-up to deliver the most versatile set of experiences across form factors".

Regarding Microsoft's $2 billion loan to Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake to take PC maker Dell private, announced last week, Klein suggested it was simply part of its efforts to support the "ecosystem" of PC makers.

"We have a long history of participating and supporting the ecosystem and that takes different forms. Oftentimes it takes the form of co-marketing, sometimes in helping with development," said Klein. "In a very dynamic industry, our ability to support the ecosystem - particularly the ecosystem that is innovating on our devices and platforms - is a good thing and something we will continue to do."

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User comments

spin

Thankfully, Mr Collins has assured us that PcPro has no bias. This however, from Reuters' and Gartner couldn't be spun more negatively to MS if they tried.
900,000 - 23,000,000. Yes its a fraction. About 1/25 the number of tablets.
question. Does MS need to sell volumes of Surface, in the way that Apple does. For apple, the iPad is one of its major revenue streams. For MS the Surface is, in my opinion, a demonstration model to show the OEMs how they would like the Windows on a Tablet done. Mass sales, in this respect are irrelevant.
(how long did it take Apple to sell those 23m anyway. 6months?)
Same goes for WP8. doubled share of total WP devices in 3 months. Yes it's a long way behind ios and android. But it could equally be spun to say, it's catching up fast.
Neither viewpoint is wholly accurate but the facts could suggest it.

By nickallison on 14 Feb 2013

Obviously MS aren't the only hardware manufacture for Windows 8 so the number of Surface (I presume RT) sales isn't comparable to the iPad.

Saying that, I'm sure the Windows RT licenses figures are way below iPad but then it is brand new to market with no press support.

As for Windows Phone, I'm glad there is no plan B as the current product is spot on. Unfortunately the negative press seems to keep app development slow but hopefully now that Windows 8 is out this will change as you can develop for both products with only minor changes. Come on SONOS; you want me to spend £600 on a PlayBar I want an official controller app for WP7.8/8 and WindowsRT.

By stephen_d_morris on 14 Feb 2013

The Emperor's clothes....

Sadly it seems that PCPro, along with much of the tech press hasn't spotted two factors:
1. MS isn't the 'borg' any more - that would be Apple \ Google.
2. Only geeks read the tech press.

Whilst MS isn't setting anything alight sales-wise it's Apple that's currently in trouble.
No matter how loyal all the genX customers are to the shiny one, it's Samsung & Android who are 'down with da kids'.

Apple's entire schtik has depended on its 'explosive' growth. But that has always been predicated on Jobs's 'one last thing' type bombshells, none of which seems even remotely likely in the near future.
Apple (say it quietly) is the new 'Microsoft'. A huge, ponderous incumbent unable to innovate and compete with the nimble new guys nipping at its ankles.

MS has gone 'radical', much to the chagrin of the tech press who can't easily maintain the stereotype, so they resort to knocking.

So will MS's gamble pay off? Who can tell?
This is a case where the numbers really don't tell the whole story, and any predictions will be overtaken by reality before the ink dries.

By wittgenfrog on 15 Feb 2013

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