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THOUGHT: Where is Soapbox for Windows Mobile?
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 20.06.07 - 21:06:40 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 13233x
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No, I'm really not a blind "Microsoft fan boy" and therefore I sometimes wonder how Microsoft works? The biggest software manufacture has everything in place to offer successful and integrated services: a Desktop OS (aka Windows XP/Vista), a mobile device OS (aka Windows Mobile) and a couple of web service (aka MSN and/or Windows Live).
Now, a newcomer in the GSM world comes around the corner (aka Apple with its iPhone) with its (much anticipated and maybe over-hyped) iPhone and says the "mysterious" 12th button of the menu will be Google's YouTube Mobile. And now? The whole blogsphere is writing and ranting about this, hardly awaiting the iPhone launch next week.

Sure, Microsoft has a serious problem with Google which is far more than a search engine today. It's bigger in search engine business, making more money from Google AdSense, offers web based services which competes with Microsoft's Office product range, has the widely used mapping tool, etc. etc but instead of competing with Google in areas Microsoft has way more influence, the software giant stays silent in the corner. Too silent if you ask me.

Have you ever tried to stream a video from MSN's new Soapbox video service which is Microsoft's answer to YouTube? No? Well - it looks like this:

And it's loading the menu, the player and the videos forever without a single result. Not to mention that the page above isn't (Windows Mobile) mobile device optimized.
And YouTube? Well, end of last week YouTube Mobile went online for everybody and YouTube offers a nicely formatted xHTML site for WAP 2.0 compatible devices, including Windows Mobile smartphones. And if you have one of the latest Windows Mobile devices from HTC you can even stream YouTube Mobile videos because these devices supports 3GPP's MPEG4 video streams.

And here (again) I wonder why Microsoft isn't offering a deeper level of cross-platform compatibility for its own products. On the other hand, Microsoft is proud to offer a new (mobile device compatible) version of MSN Mobile. Hell - even the::unwired is mobile device optimized - that's nothing special anymore, thanks to databases and I'm currently working on a solution to provide Windows Mobile users the same videos on its mobile device I'm currently offering via the Desktop version of the::unwired only (should go online soon). This means, as a the::unwired reader you get the same services on your mobile device as you get it on your Desktop but Microsoft isn't able to offer this level of integrated services? That's definitely pretty frustrating and I wonder how Microsoft can close the gap to Google, especially after Google teamed up with Apple.

Wait until next Friday night and you will see hundreds of "reviews" about what you can do with your Apple iPhone. Sure, these reviews will most likely not talking about what you cannot do but it's only fair enough. In my reviews I'm also only highlighting that you can easily get E-Mail push (thanks to Exchange) but never highlighted so far that you cannot access MSN Soapbox from your Windows Mobile device. So why should a "Apple fan boy" highlight that the iPhone is incompatible with Exchange servers?

As great as all Microsoft's Office and business integration is - Microsoft definitely has to understand that you are also selling mobile phones and devices through emotions. HTC's TouchFlo isn't business related in any kind but the HTC Touch clearly addresses the consumer. That's good, finally the hardware becomes attractive for consumers as well but if the underlying services are not consumer friendly, related and focused, it's becoming boring pretty soon. And no - the Windows Live Mobile service with search, instant messaging and photo upload to Windows Live Spaces isn't enough (even if it's a good start). The consumer (and on weekends - also business users are consumers) expects far more from today's smartphones and a deeper service integration - especially if the smartphone comes from the same source as the Desktop (OS) and web services the customer uses.

Cheers ~ Arne


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