Is Android Replacing Windows Mobile?

The NY Times has a piece that is quite unflattering to Windows Mobile (just the most recent in a series of critical pieces on Microsoft). It essentially says Android is taking off while WinMo is "foundering." As I've argued several times before, Windows Mobile and Android are positioned as direct competitors: software divorced from hardware, as opposed to the integrated RIM, Apple and Palm devices.

Here's what the article says:

Android is free, while Windows Mobile costs manufacturers $15 to $25 a phone.

Google’s software is intended for modern screens you tap with a finger, while Windows Mobile was built for use with a stylus. Android has attracted far more applications for consumers in the first year than Windows Mobile has in a decade. As a result, Android is winning over the world’s largest cellphone makers.

One part of the appeal is that, unlike other operating systems, Android is open source software, so anyone can use or change it.

While Google Apps/Docs has so far had a tiny impact on Microsoft Office, Android could have a potentially huge and direct impact on Windows Mobile and indirectly impact Microsoft's (mobile) search business. In fact Android is looking like it will become a big success story for Google and a strategic one because of the increasing centrality of mobile devices in the Internet experience. 

While it's too early to say confidently that Android has "won" (vs. WinMo), it certainly has the "mo." Windows Mobile 7 thus becomes an even more critical release for the company -- due next year, probably in the second half. Redmond needs to get 7 right or it will be tough to recover in the smartphone market. 

How does this affect search you ask?

Google already dominates mobile search; and Android phones prominently feature Google search and services in most cases. Unless Bing develops a superior search client for Android -- and it must be superior -- Android handset adoption will further drive Google search volumes. Even in the case of Verizon, in the US, Microsoft's big mobile ads and default search deal may not turn out to be as big a boon for the company as hoped. 

Verizon's marquee handset (and handset line) is now Android


Related: HTC, the maker of both WinMo and Android devices, is making a bid to become a brand with a new global ad campaign (as well as its branded Sense interface). 

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