The year was 2007 and Apple had released the iPhone to great reviews but was lacking features. Many brushed aside Apple’s chances to be a serious contender to Microsoft’s mature Windows Mobile platform. Apple had complete faith in its product and what they wanted to change about the smartphone. It wasn’t until several updates later that they adopted the app store and began to take the market by storm. They were innovative, a breath of fresh air and had what their competitors lacked-a compelling vision. Over the years the iPhone platform has become mature and predictive. Major yearly updates and product releases that you could set your watch to. Until now! Instead of releasing iOS5 this summer as everyone is accustomed to the major update will be coming this fall.
Microsoft saw the writing on the wall as it saw market share dwindle away each year until finally in 2009 Microsoft ditched “Photon” the awaited major update to its Windows Mobile platform and pulled the Windows Phone team together as they set a course to rejoin the smartphone conversation with something new to say. They could have easily been another Android with their Windows Mobile history but that wasn’t good enough for them. The Fall of 2010 saw the launch of Windows Phone 7 to great reviews but lacking features to make it competitive in an ever increasing tough smartphone market. Android was on fire and Apple was stretching its reach across the globe too.
This Spring Microsoft unveiled previews of Mango. Mango is the upcoming major update to the Windows Phone platform that both fills in the feature set while adding several differentiating features and services to the platform. Everyone who stayed objective had nothing but rave reviews for the Mango update with one caveat. Timing. It was only logical to wonder if Windows Phone who entered late to the current smartphone scene could wait another 6 to 8 months to release the Mango update. iOS5 was due to be unveiled in June at Apple’s WWDC and it was expected that a new iPhone would accompany the announcement and be available in July. Apple, you see, had a proven successful yearly release of new products. Android is also due to release a major update this fall codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich. Things changed at the WWDC.
There was no earth shattering announcements by Apple for the iOS5 software update. They instead polished the OS and added a few requested tweaks to important systems. Even the iCloud isn’t the revolutionary announcement we’ve all come to expect from Apple. Suddenly with a meaningful, yet slightly underwhelming iOS5 due to be released in the Fall the attention turned back to Mango and what it means to the Windows Phone platform.
Put simply. Mango puts Microsoft’s Windows Phone right in line with Apple’s iPhone as an appealing choice for the consumer. The irony now is that Apple has the mature, market leading platform who doesn’t see Microsoft’s offering as a threat. Microsoft’s Windows Phone is the new kid on the block with the fresh ideas that has something new to say to the conversation. Several bloggers openly questioned Microsoft’s strategy to do once a year major updates but isn’t that exactly what Apple does? In between its fine to refine or tweak a feature or two, even add a feature as a minor update. These are the top two tech companies in the world so if both of them are following this model, chances are they know something we don’t.
This Fall Mango and iOS5 will be released within weeks of each other both offering compelling experiences and each have a voice of its own. The battle lines have once again been drawn and the frenemies are fast becoming serious competitors with each other. I’m personally rolling with Windows Phone as the SkyDrive, Groups and Threads features complete with the coming tie-ins with Xbox Live and the Windows PC is a natural fit. Others are going with iOS5 with iMessage and iCloud- also because they have come to appreciate the iPhone for the mature, polished offering it brings.
To each his own but I want to hear where you stand. Windows Phone or iPhone?