We brought together some of the top thinkers in the mobile industry Wednesday afternoon for the GeekWire Summit in Seattle. And while much of the chatter on the panel had to do with the newly-released iPad and the dominance of Android, the panelists nearly all agreed that Microsoft finally has developed a mobile operating system in Windows Phone that can– at the very least– be held up against its key rivals.
But is it just too late for Microsoft in mobile? The company certainly has a long way to go, especially given a recent comScore report showing that Windows Phone’s share of the smartphone market dipped to 4.4 percent in January.
Cole Brodman, chief marketing officer at T-Mobile, whose company has been selling Windows Phone for the past two quarters, remains hopeful. In the past, Brodman said that Microsoft’s products didn’t resonate with consumers. But that perception is changing.
“The platform now is actually quite solid,” he said. “They shouldn’t underestimate how much it is going to take to upstage Android’s growth … or iOS with Apple’s marketing magic, but the platform itself is quite good…. The product is finally good.”
“That gives me hope, and I think we need that. I think we need Windows Phone to be successful,” he said.
Rhapsody president Jon Irwin followed up those remarks by calling Windows Phone a “great OS.” But Irwin noted that there’s a “tremendous lead” held by Apple and Android, one he said will take time to challenge.
“It is going to take a while for that app infrastructure to catch up,” Irwin said of Windows Phone.
David Bluhm, CEO of mobile gaming startup Z2Live, was perplexed at why Microsoft hasn’t tossed more weight behind tying together Windows Phone and the Xbox Live community.
“I just don’t think they’ve done a good job — yet,” said Bluhm, whose company’s games are only available on Apple’s iOS.
“It’s got a chance. It is a great product, there’s no question. It’s late,” said Bluhm. “And they have a lot of disinterested parties out there that they have to reenergize. Certainly, we don’t see it as a platform on our radar for quite some time until it builds a great volume.”
Former Swype CEO Mike McSherry, now a vice president at Nuance Communications, offered a little bit more hope.
“It is hugely dynamic right now. They are coming late behind, but don’t discount Microsoft’s cash and what they are bringing … and the ecosystem they can create,” said McSherry.
He added that Microsoft is currently dependent upon Nokia, which is causing other handset makers to become a bit hesitant with the Windows Phone platform. McSherry said that Microsoft needs to make an aggressive push to get the devices in the hands of consumers.
“It is not a bad device,” he said. “They just can’t sell it.”
Other GeekWire Summit coverage: T-Mobile executive: Key to fixing industry is removing device subsidies…Q&A: Ray Ozzie on startups, Microsoft, and what he’s dreaming up next…GeekWire Summit: How to stay innovative in a world of technological change
You can watch the full mobile panel discussion in the video below, with the segment on Windows Phone starting in minute 27.
[Thanks to the team at Bootstrapper Studios for the video].