Mark Bridge writes:
I like a good conspiracy theory. A good one, mind you. None of this “Funny thing happened on the way to Mars” nonsense. Oh no, not me. And, despite occasionally mirroring Jerry Fletcher by balancing a bottle on the door handle, I’ve never been inclined to publish such a theory. Until now.
You see, it’s Mobile World Congress in a fortnight’s time. Which is when the great and the good of the mobile industry – along with their mates and hangers-on – head for Barcelona. Microsoft will be there. They’re holding a press briefing on Monday afternoon. And there’s a lot of talk about Windows Mobile 7 being (unofficially) on the agenda.
Talk, yes. But where’s the evidence? Well, let me propose a theory. Windows Mobile 7 will not be announced at MWC. Putting Zune on Windows Mobile devices, perhaps. Putting Xbox on Windows Mobile devices, perhaps. But barely a whiff of WM7.
Aha, you say. But what about all those well-reported comments by Microsoft?
Take a close look at them, I reply.
Microsoft’s official invitation to the show promises “several exciting announcements” and says
“You will learn how the company plans to align its consumer vision and grow opportunities for the mobile industry as a whole” and “how it will tackle challenging times ahead, in the face of economic uncertainty and stiffening competition.”
Could be Windows Mobile 7. Then again, it could be something completely different. A manufacturing agreement. A licensing agreement. A move towards integrated mobile and desktop operating systems. Even a company restructure.
Let’s move now to Robbie Bach, Microsoft’s president of the Entertainment and Devices Division, talking at CES in Las Vegas a few weeks ago.
“The challenge for us as we come into 2010 and we are going to have some new things that will talk about at Mobile World Congress… the first bar people should look at is to say, wow, are they doing a great job with the product. And when you look at the product… I have the luxury of having seen it, to be able to look at it and played with it a little bit, but I'm certainly confident people are going to see it as something that's differentiated and something that really does move the bar forward, not in an evolutionary way from where we are today, but it's something that feels, looks, acts and performs completely different.
The second thing I'd highlight is… we haven't been as engaged in the go to markets as we need to be going forward, let me just say it that way. Certainly our operator partners will take the majority of the go to market work when they bring a phone to market. OEMs participate in that, as well.”
Okay, so we’re getting closer. This sounds a bit like an OS, although he’s not saying that – which prompts the question “Why not?”
Finally, I offer the most recent evidence. Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein is interviewed by Fox Business a few days ago:
“We are heads down working on Windows Mobile 7. We will have much more to say about that at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February”.
The reaction of many media watchers was to say “Hey, he mentioned Windows Mobile 7. No-one else from Microsoft has done that. And he’ll be telling us more about WM7 in Barcelona”.
Yes, it’s a big deal. But there’s still no explicit promise of an announcement, just “more to say”.
So, despite news stories that read “Windows Mobile 7 all but certain to be revealed at Mobile World Congress”, “Microsoft directly confirms Windows Mobile 7 for Mobile World Congress” and “Microsoft officials have begun touting the Mobile World Congress as the place that Windows Mobile 7 will finally be on public display in some way for the first time”, I’m not convinced. I reckon there’s still been no real confirmation.
Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe I’m being too cynical. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ve unearthed a truth that Microsoft has been saving for 15th February.
I don’t know. I could easily be wrong. But if I'm right - and Steve Ballmer lands the black stealth Gatescopter on my roof - I’ll be ready. I’ve got Jerry Fletcher’s empty beer bottle on the door handle.