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Why Apple’s touch features win, and Microsoft’s fail

Hilton Locke : Dell Latitude XT Tablet on the website!:

“I will say that if you are impressed by the ‘touch features’ in the iPhone, you’ll be blown away by what’s coming in Windows 7. Now if only we could convince more OEMs that Windows Touch Technology is going to drive their sales.”

And that, in a nutshell, is Microsoft’s problem: it has to develop good features THEN persuade third party hardware makers to support them. It added support for the rather nice SideShow features in Vista only to find that third party hardware makers weren’t really interested in using them. It created a good platform for pen-based computing, only only to see hardware makers fail to create the kind of compelling, beautifully designed hardware which pen-based computing demands.

Sorry, Hilton, but unless you can show Dell et al that their boring, unadventurous corporate customers are demanding touch, they won’t bother to make decent products with it – no matter how good your features are.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joe S.

    Bull crap. I’ll believe it when it ships & is shown to work properly…not from some demo. Why is it that MS & it’s hardware partners are always behind the innovation curve? It’s because they never do anything until some one else does it first & much better. Then they do a cheap, half ass, rushed to market knock-off. What exactly does that demo show us? That again they are behind & that they have a product that copies products that are already in the market & smaller slimmer devices. Sony & Samsung are MS partners are you saying that they can’t build sexy hardware. Your analysis falls short. MS can not make money to save there lives in the consumer electronics arena. It is not because of lack of partners that can handle the hardware side. It is because they are void of original thought & they make mediocre products. The public has a choice as to what we buy. Employees at corporations are just saddled with MS & Dell’s mediocrity…there is no choice in the equation.

  • Blad_Rnr

    Joe said it best: “MS can not make money to save there lives in the consumer electronics arena. …they are void of original thought & they make mediocre products.”
    Why doesn’t everyone realize this? The tech pundits used to go ga-ga over MS because they were the 800 lb gorilla. Now they are just tired of Apple getting the spotlight all the time and can’t see that there is a changing of the guard.
    1995 was twelve years ago. What has MS done since then, really?

  • HG

    Once upon a time Apple use to be THE hardware partner for Microsoft.
    Maybe it’s time Microsoft bury the hatchet and reclaim the abandoned partnership. It seems to me that Microsoft needs Apple now more than ever, if only to show their OEMs how to do it right.

  • Constable Odo

    Yeh, right. Talk is cheap. Vista was supposed to blow everybody away, too. They were half right. It certainly does blow.

  • rd

    Windows 7, it will be 2009 before you see beta, let alone RC1.
    By that time iPhone will be in its 3rd iteration. Game over.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/ianbetteridge/ Ian Betteridge

    Joe S:
    “It’s because they never do anything until some one else does it first & much better.”
    Not entirely true, unfortunately. Microsoft has been doing touch interfaces for a long time, in the shape of the early Windows CE devices, all of which could be used as touch screens rather than pen (in fact, quite a few were used without pen in the retail industry). But you’re right in saying that Apple has done its implementation of touch much, much better than anything that’s been done before.
    “Sony & Samsung are MS partners are you saying that they can’t build sexy hardware.”
    Both Sony and Samsung build good-looking hardware, but that’s not the same as well-designed hardware. Sony, for example, uses an awful lot of non-standard stuff in its hardware, which means that its driver support lags behind badly. Even the best Windows machine makers lack the deep elegance of good product design – they tend to make a nice looking machine, which, when you use it, isn’t all that great.
    ” MS can not make money to save there lives in the consumer electronics arena.”
    Unfortunately, this isn’t true: Windows Mobile is certainly profitable – it has around 14% of the phone market worldwide – and while Xbox isn’t profitable on its own, it has a high enough percentage of the market to suggest it will be.
    ” It is because they are void of original thought & they make mediocre products.”
    SideShow is original. Tablet PC, while not exactly new, is still the best implementation of pen-based computing going (and of course, Windows XP for Tablet PC was better than Vista… but that’s another story). Don’t let your love of Apple blind you to the fact that Microsoft has done some good stuff. But, as I said, unlike Apple it has to work with hardware partners – and that, which was once its biggest strength, is now turning into a weakness.

  • http://mart.ozmac.com Martin Hill

    Actually, Microsoft is doing quite poorly in the smartphone market. Across all of their hardware partners, in Q1 2007, Windows Mobile only managed 6.9% of the worldwide smartphone market vs Symbian at 71.7% and runner-up Linux at 15%. Blackberry managed only 4.7% and Palm a tiny 2.3%.
    http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2007/07/27/10-fas-5-iphone-sales-vs-zune-palm-rim-symbian-windows-mobile/
    In contrast, Apple with 1 phone available through 1 carrier in one country managed to equal the number of new subscribers that RIM added over the same period with 12 models of Blackberry in 120 countries and 300 different carriers.
    http://www1.investorvillage.com/beta/smbd.asp?mb=445&mn=113936&pt=msg&mid=3156559
    In Q3 2007, According to NPD, Apple captured 27% of the U.S. smartphone market and 3% of the overall Q3 cellphone market.
    Windows Mobile is getting wiped off the map.
    -Mart

  • http://mart.ozmac.com Martin Hill

    Sorry, the link to the iPhone getting 27% of the US smartphone market is here:
    http://www.alleyinsider.com/2007/11/smartphone-sales-soar-iphone-grabs-27-percent-of-market.html
    -Mart

  • http://profile.typekey.com/ianbetteridge/ Ian Betteridge

    Unfortunately, Mr Dilger’s figures aren’t exactly reliable. While Apple sold 270,000 in its first weekend, it went on to sell a total of 1.1 million over the whole of the next full quarter, some 12,000 per day. Using Dilger’s figures, that means the iPhone sold less than Windows Mobile (16,000 per day), less than Linux (33,000 per day) and less than Symbian (175,000 per day).
    Of course, until the iPhone is available worldwide, it’s impossible to make a like-for-like comparison. The same is true of your “Apple getting 27% smartphone share” claim, as NPD doesn’t list any other smart manufacturers, nor break it down by OS. It’s safe to guess that the order would be Symbian/Linux/Windows Mobile, though. 27% is great, but without knowing how the rest of the pie breaks down, you can’t really say anything about the comparative success of Windows Mobile.
    However, either way, it doesn’t mean that Windows Mobile is a failure. Apple succeeding doesn’t mean Microsoft fails: it simply means that the iPhone is a better product (which it is – and I’ve used every smartphone OS out there). After all, as Mac users should know, you can make a profitable and successful business out of small percentages of market share :)

  • http://profile.typekey.com/ianbetteridge/ Ian Betteridge

    By the way, just found an interesting breakdown by region here:
    http://mobilephonedevelopment.com/archives/507
    That shows Apple and Microsoft neck and neck in the US, with RIM ahead of both of them.

  • http://mart.ozmac.com Martin Hill

    Ian, perhaps I shouldn’t have included my last sentence about Windows Mobile being wiped off the map – I think my comment was a bit too influenced by my extremely poor experience with my $1000 HTC-made Windows Mobile PDA phone (O2 XDA IIs) and the number of problems we have on campus supporting other Windows Mobile PDA phone devices. I also have an older Symbian PDA phone, a SE P900 that also cost me $1000 when I bought it a few years back and even though it is older than the O2, it is far better as a phone though less capable as a general-purpose pocket computer. I have also previously had several Palm PDAs and even a couple of Newtons back in the day.
    You are right that MS doesn’t have to lose for Apple to do well, but it is interesting how poorly MS has done in this space considering they have been working on the PDA and then PDA/phone concept since Windows CE was first introduced in 1997 – a decade ago. Of course, if you take any single Windows Mobile-based hardware vendor, Apple does indeed wipe them off the map in the most recent quarter of figures.
    I think Daniel Eran Dilger’s figures are actually pretty representative of the statistics available out there from NPD etc. Remember that the worldwide marketshare figures he uses were for Q1 2007 and the iPhone wasn’t released till 3 days before Q3 2007 so you have to be careful about drawing direct comparisons. However the Symbian figures you link to above confirm that the iPhone is far from inconsequential in the smartphone space.
    One would assume this will only accelerate once Apple releases the SDK in a month or two and then the second generation iPhone with 3G around mid-year of the rumours are correct.
    -Mart

  • Joe S.

    My post had nothing to do with being blinded by my love for Apple. When Apple was showing the iPhone MS was showing a 10,000 dollar coffee table, that hid a PC & three cameras (a glorified kiosk). It’s all smoke & mirrors until you ship an actual product. We are talking about Multi-touch products right? Touch interfaces have been around for a long time. Kiosks? Multi-Touch was around before Apple introduced the iPhone but what companies actually ship a Multi-Touch product with a small thin form factor that fit’s in your pocket? I saw Mr. Dell showing something that has already hit the market, in a much smaller form factor. How exactly is that not being behind? Overall MS loses billions in the consumer space. The Xbox had a 33% hardware failure rate…MS is learning that hardware isn’t that easy to design & build. After all they have no real experience at it. Apple has years of experience in hardware. Just the facts, no fanboyism involved. It’s not only what a product can do it is also how it does it & the practical thought, implementation & markets that you target. Apple has produced A computer that fits in your pocket. Mr. Dell showed lab experiments that mimic an existing product. Dog and Pony show.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/ianbetteridge/ Ian Betteridge

    Mart –
    “I think my comment was a bit too influenced by my extremely poor experience with my $1000 HTC-made Windows Mobile PDA phone (O2 XDA IIs) and the number of problems we have on campus supporting other Windows Mobile PDA phone devices”
    Indeed. Don’t think that I’m trying to claim that Windows Mobile is a good operating system (particularly compared to the iPhone). If I was giving it a score out of ten, it would get a six at best. And that would only be if I was having a particularly generous day.
    But, as I think you recognise, whether it’s actually any good or not isn’t really the point: the point is whether it’s a success or not, and I think that, thus far, it’s been one. What’s interesting in relation to the original point of the post is that, once again, MS has had to rely on third parties to create hardware, and – with the notable exception of some of HTC’s products – most haven’t done a stunning job of it.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/ianbetteridge/ Ian Betteridge

    Joe –
    “Multi-Touch was around before Apple introduced the iPhone but what companies actually ship a Multi-Touch product with a small thin form factor that fit’s in your pocket? ”
    I think you’re comparing Apple’s with oranges here. If you wanted to compare like with like, then you’d really need to look at Windows CE/Mobile devices. I don’t think you’d come to a different conclusion in the sense that, clearly, iPhone is better, but it’s not correct to say that no one had produced touch products in that form factor before.
    Apple has, effectively, done exactly what it did with the Mac. It wasn’t the first company to introduce a commercial GUI-based PC, but it simply did it better than anyone else, showing how the concept of a GUI could be taken to its logical conclusion.
    “MS is learning that hardware isn’t that easy to design & build. After all they have no real experience at it. Apple has years of experience in hardware. Just the facts, no fanboyism involved.”
    Oh, I agree. And, in fact, that backs up my original point – that the reliance on hardware vendors, which was once a strength, is now a weakness.

  • http://www.cyclelogicpress.com Partners in Grime

    Yep, always waiting for the next greatest….