The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is less than two weeks away. Like CES or CTIA there are tons of announcements that will come out of the show. But Microsoft is expected to announce a range of mobile upgrades. Considerable virtual ink is being spilled over the various rumors and speculation. To recap, here's what's likely:
Microsoft is developing some smartphone reference implementations. These implementations are taking the form of multiple smartphone chassis (at least one of which is powered by Nvidia processors).
Think of what Microsoft is doing in phones as similar to what it has done in the PC market. Microsoft often develops reference implementations and encourages PC makers that they build PCs that adhere to a set of reference guidelines/specifications.
From one of my sources, who requested anonymity: “The (Zune phone) chassis 1 spec is challenging the manufacturers to come up with something that will please customers.” This source said Microsoft was pitting a handful of cell-phone makers against one another to come up with the best implementation of the spec.
From what I’ve heard, Microsoft is focusing most of its reference efforts around the Windows Mobile 7 platform.
Despite Windows Mobile unit sales, which are considerable, all these announcements represent a form of catch up to the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry (to some degree) and the Palm Pre. And mobile is a much more risky, much less certain endeavor for Microsoft than the PC universe where it's much more firmly in control.
As mentioned in a previous post, I spoke with Microsoft's Scott Howe recently. He stressed to me the value of "convergence" for Microsoft on the advertiser side: bringing lots of media together in an easy-to-buy platform -- including mobile.
On the consumer side Microsoft is pushing a similar idea of a single experience across devices: TV, PC and mobile. Some of the announcements at Mobile World Congress will undoubtedly flesh out that vision through the prism of Windows Mobile.