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TheStreet Open House

Microsoft Mobile Is Ready to Roar in 2014

If you're like me and use Microsoft Office, you never fully embraced Google documents and spreadsheets. But after Windows phones all but left the building, what choice did you have? For most, it meant moving to iPhones (very popular) or Android (my choice). I don't consider BlackBerry to be a serious office productivity phone other than maybe for texting, and clearly its user base came to the same conclusion.

Google no longer holds a monopoly with online productivity applications. If you prefer Office's Word and Excel, SkyDrive allows you to start a Word document on your PC, edit it natively with a Nokia Windows Phone, and print it from another PC at a different location. Yes, non-Windows phones and computers can do the same, but not as easily. When the cost of use is free between Google and Microsoft, there's little incentive for Office users to consider anything else.

Combine useful software with a consistent Windows user experience on both PCs and mobile devices, and Microsoft has the makings for a winning mobile offering. That is, if the device is at least as compelling as Android devices.

And Microsoft has tapped Nokia to offer those compelling devices. Nokia is offering world-class phones including the Lumia 1020 from AT&T (T), featuring a 41 megapixel camera and enthusiastic reviews. The Lumia 1520 is pre-loaded with Office and competes on a level playing field with the best smartphones. Nokia isn't the only hardware manufacturer embracing Windows -- HTC and Samsung have smartphones on the market available today, too.

Even adding in app and storage sales, a free online Office suite and mobile platform don't necessarily increase Microsoft's bottom line enough to warrant excitement.  After all, Microsoft is already a $323 billion company. But a growing market share and potential dominance in mobile do help justify a forward P/E closer to Google.

Microsoft is currently priced at 13.3 times forward estimates, while Google is priced at 20.7. According to Search Engine Watch, Bing's market share has been growing, although it appears at Yahoo!'s expense, not Google's. In October, Bing received about 27% compared to 25% a year ago, versus Google's 68%, down slightly from 69%. Yahoo!, once the dominant search platform, is approaching single digits.

The trend is in Bing's favor, and with mobile's increasing importance, Microsoft appears well positioned for a strong performance in 2014.

At the time of publication, Weinstein is long BlackBerry.

Follow @RobertWeinstein

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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