The past three years have felt like a pit of quicksand for Microsoft’s mobile-phone business. Caught flat-footed when Apple came out with the iPhone in 2007, Microsoft has failed to even catch up while newcomers like Google have adroitly leapt into the market with their own smartphones.
Even Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates admitted this week to an OMG moment when he first saw the iPhone. In an interview with business Web site Bnet, Gates recalled when he first saw the iPhone, he said, “Oh, my god, Microsoft didn’t aim high enough.”
On Monday, the company hopes to regain some footing with an announcement at the World Mobile Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, that will feature CEO Steve Ballmer. Many expect Ballmer will release Windows Mobile 7.0, a new version of its operating system for smartphones.
“It can’t be incremental improvement; it’s got to be something bigger,” said Will Stofega, a mobile-device analyst at IDC, a research company in Framingham, Mass. “We can’t see another Windows Mobile 126.96.36.199.”