‘Windows Phone 8 to pile more pain on RIM’


Targeting business customers and tablets are the key to Microsoft’s success, say analysts

The Windows Phone 8 (WP8) operating system has been described as a potential “BlackBerry killer” due to its high levels of security and multiple device integration.

The claim came from Ovum analyst Nick Dillon, who believes updates from Windows 7, due out this month, will give Microsoft its best opportunity of gaining market share in the B2B space, particularly in enterprise.

Microsoft has been very secretive about what users can expect from its latest update – even going as far as disabling it on demonstration handsets used by manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC and Nokia, who have backed the OS in recent weeks.

However, a number of details on its security have been leaked.

According to reports, security improvements include built-in encryption software which covers both the OS and data files accessed or stored on the device.

It also includes ‘App Sandboxing’, which protects the device from malware, adding multiple layers of security for everything used on the device.

Improvements to its remote management tools are also said to have been made, which will appease IT managers.

Analysts predict the bulk of the Windows OS growth will come from B2B rather than consumer, due to the strength of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms.

Ovum has forecast the Windows Phone OS will increase its market share from under five per cent in the UK today to around 13 per cent within five years – usurping BlackBerry in the process.

Dillon said: “With the greater links to its Xbox and PC platforms they really will be hoping the stars have aligned this time and people can see how they can all work together.

However, the problem is people are used to Android and iOS and this looks very different. Retail sales also require sta to be trained and really understand the benefits of Windows Phone, and this is a lot of hard work.

“This, along with the security upgrade is one of the reasons businesses could be the key market for Windows Phone. Done properly with the right marketing, Windows could be a BlackBerry killer in enterprise.”

CCS Insight analyst Geo Blaber agrees business may be the way forward for the platform, with Microsoft already a familiar OS to millions of businesses worldwide.

He says Microsoft can utilise its reputation provided integration between PC and mobile is a seamless process.

However, work needs to be done on encouraging people to actually take a punt on the OS rather than simply remain on a tried and tested platform like Android, BlackBerry or iOS.

Operators, particularly Telefónica (O2), have stated the importance of new platforms being introduced for smartphones, such as Mozilla launched in February. And operators will ultimately play a key role in the adoption of WP8.

Blaber told  Mobile News: “Microsoft will experience the same problem they had last year. It receives good reviews from people who have actually tried it, but because it looks so different to other platforms people are now familiar with, it’s difficult to get people on board. They really need the carriers to support them in a bigger and more sustained way.

“Last time we had the fireworks and big push at launch but then the interest seemed to fade when the demand from the public didn’t follow. The operators do want a third option but it’s catch 22 for them, it’s a big gamble to go big on an operating system which is unproven and may not have the demand there in the first place.”

Thinking big

There is also a view amongst analysts Microsoft should focus its attentions on pushing WP8 through tablet devices first rather than a mobile phone as it may be a more logical transition for customers away from the PC.

According to Analysys Mason principal analyst Ronan de Renesse, this could then create a demand from customers to go a step further and add mobile – creating three Microsoft integrated devices.

De Renesse said: “There is a lot of work for Microsoft to do to change the perception of their smartphone platform and that’s not going to change overnight.

“They are much better placed to use WP8 through the tablet market and then look to move into phones – that’s where we believe their greatest opportunity lies.”