The news struck me like a bombshell – an industry alliance called Open Handset Alliance announces a new mobile OS to be licensed under the Apache license(aka no need to give back derived code). Among the members of the committee: Google, a variety of carriers and semicon boys – and, most importantly – HTC.
Many of my colleagues think that this will affect Nokia(S60 OS) and Palm(Palm OS) the worst – however, I think that Microsoft is the one who really has a lot to loose here. Both Palm and Nokia have hardware and software in their hand and can thus afford to loose all other licensees(Palm has already lost most, as for Samsung….their cool-looking S60 phones have yet to hit the road). However, Microsoft doesn’t have an own hardware division doing smartphones(forget the Zune, boys).
For them, HTC has always been the ‘reference client’; delivering devices with everything that Microsoft deems fit to carriers that feel like distributing the machines. But HTC has gone on an ‘ego trip’ some time ago, starting to push its own brand at the expense of ODM/carrier jobs.
Looking at Microsoft’s current offerings, I consider Windows Mobile for Smartphone nothing short of a catastrophe. The OS is incredibly clumsy, requiring loads and loads of scrolling and tapping. Windows Mobile 6 for touchscreen has also got quite a bit of flak from journalists(strange…I really like WM5 on my hp ipaq rx4240).
IMHO, should HTC drop WM Smartphone, Microsoft will have serious problems with this part of its OS. Why should developers continue to support an as-good-as-dead platform(even if .NET CF makes it pretty easy)? Why should carriers give their clients devices with a hard-to-use OS if they can have an easy-to-use one backed by a brand name which is just as big(Google)? Nothing good for Microsoft here…
HTC, on the other hand, has little to loose by killing the smartphone runt – it finally gets a fully open OS that it can change around as much as it wants, and will save a load of cash on licensing fees. Microsoft cannot afford to tamper with HTC’s licensing deals(touchscreen devices selling well) anyways.
Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corp., is quoted saying that “…integration of the Android platform in the second half of 2008 enables us to expand our device portfolio into a new category of connected mobile phones that will change the complexion of the mobile industry and re-create user expectations of the mobile phone experience.” Looking at the emphasis(added by me), this translates to: devices get easier to use…something not easy to accomplish with the runt.
As for the classic PocketPC – as it looks now, this platform will also be left alone mostly. I think that HP definitely won’t join the Open Handset Alliance while HTC is a member there – last but not least to avoid pissing off business customers who use HP devices due to their excellent build quality.
What do you think?