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Microsoft Didn't Win Last Week, But Apple and Google Did

Stocks in this article: MSFT AAPL GOOG

Long-time readers know I love Weinstein. We're friends. And, on numerous occasions, I have praised his work. However, with respect to Microsoft (and Google), I have to wonder if Weinstein has lost his mind.

Weinstein writes:

To recapture the mobile platform, Microsoft originally partnered with Nokia (NOK) to ensure at least one hardware manufacturer produced a Windows-based phone. Now there's a growing list of smartphone makers producing or about to produce Windows Mobile phones. Without the cost advantage of free software, I think Google may find an exodus of vendors supporting Android phones.

There's nothing to say about Microsoft's mobile strategy other than it failed. It's dead. Office for iPad drives that point home. If you had any faith in your ability to get Windows smartphones and tablets in the hands of current iOS and Android users, you would keep the one differentiator you have to yourself.

Consider the thought trajectory I was on way back in October 2012 in Office Will Determine Whether Microsoft Can Beat Apple:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer can hallucinate all he wants about the Surface tablet, but he knows as well as the next geek that there's only one thing that sets Surface apart from the competition (particularly the iPad): Office.
If Microsoft releases Office for iOS and Android anytime soon, it's obvious Ballmer has no faith in his company's ability to to steal meaningful mobile market share from Apple, Google and Amazon.com (AMZN).

But what we saw was Ballmer hold out hope at the same time as he, IMHO, misled people about the strength and potential of Surface tablet sales. He held back on Office for iPad not because of technical issues, but for competitve reasons. If he could get enough of the world to buy Windows mobile devices, there would be less of a need to extend Microsoft's software to the iOS platform.

I closed that 2012 article with this ...

It's a tall order when the only thing you really have going for you, other than a horribly marketed Xbox, are productivity tools. Office might be big, but, just like the CrackBerry habit, its hold on consumers can be broken.

... which segues nicely into the next excerpt from Weinstein's more recent article:

Microsoft is becoming so aggressive that it's reportedly started or about to begin giving Windows Mobile software away for free in some large markets. Windows can make money off of App sales, so while not as ideal as selling the operating system and then selling generating revenue from Apps, the strategy is superior to Google's encroachment of market share.
... Microsoft has lowered the cost for low-cost hardware producers and may be nearing a free Windows 8 release if recent rumors are accurate ...

Aggressive? Or desperate. I guess it depends on your take.

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