Microsoft Should Hush Until iPhone 2 Debuts

The heat is on. With Apple's ( AAPL) highly anticipated iPhone2 announcement expected early Monday afternoon, rivals aren't standing still.

I've seen a number of new phone designs that will hit the market in the next few days/weeks. I'm actually playing with a very nifty "iPhone killer" from another manufacturer as I write this.

But this rivalry is now being played out as a war of words -- with the billion-dollar spoils going to the victor. I guess that's why I've just received an email from the Windows Mobile Update team at the WeberShandwick public relations firm.

In it, I was informed that Microsoft's ( MSFT) Mobile Communications Senior Vice President Andy Lees has "reached out to Windows Mobile's ecosystem of partners" to highlight the great success they have achieved as they continue their mission to put a "smartphone in every pocket."

That ecosystem includes 160 mobile operators in 55 countries, 50 handset makers, and scores of developers, who jointly have created and built on an open platform "that delights customers."

Andy Lees' letter includes the following facts:

  • We also sold more in the previous four quarters than Research In Motion (RIMM), and in the last quarter our year-over-year unit growth alone was greater than sales of Apple's iPhone.
  • IDC expects Windows Mobile OS phones (will) continue to annually outsell Apple iPhones in both consumer and enterprise shipments, and by 2012, Windows Mobile is expected to double sales over iPhone in the consumer space, and have nearly nine times the amount of enterprise deployment.
  • With more than 18,000 applications to choose from, Windows Mobile applications were the most popular downloads on Handango.
  • With 25 Windows Mobile 3G phones worldwide, and unmatched number of form factors, Windows Mobile provides consumers and businesses with what they need -- choice and freedom.
  • Now, I'm not going to argue the validity of these points. I'm sure that if Microsoft and WeberShandwick say this is so, it must be true.

    But, I do question the timing. If this had been announced a few days or even weeks ago, it wouldn't seem like a desperate attempt at getting some publicity just before the release of the iPhone.

    The successes described above may be valid -- but they're valid up until Steve Jobs's speech at the Apple Developer's Conference at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Monday.

    Notice that most of the bullet points are written in the past tense. That's because once Mr. J tells us about the new Apple phone design(s), every smartphone that came before it is past history.

    I'm sure there are bold, new and innovative Windows Mobile phones in the works, but this coming week -- and in the near future -- it's the iPhone2 show.

    Two new RIM BlackBerries (Bold and Thunder), a slew of Google's ( GOOG) Android-based phones, the Sprint/Samsung Instinct, Garmin's ( GRMN) Nuviphone, Sony/Ericsson's ( SNE) Xperia will be getting a slew of press. I really haven't heard much about new Windows Mobile designs.

    Don't get me wrong. I've used and really like the Windows Mobile OS. In a previous life, my employer preferred this system over BlackBerry. TheStreet.com uses BlackBerry. I can honestly tell you, from experience, that both systems are terrific.

    But, iPhone has the buzz and BlackBerry is the current leader among the business community -- and therefore gets some interesting perks, such as the software announced on Friday by E*Trade ( ETFC). The new E*Trade Mobile Pro allows customers to monitor portfolios, get real-time stock quotes and conduct trades from their BlackBerry. The software is free, and very cool.

    Look, it's great to have many smartphone choices, but timing is everything. I think the Windows Mobile people should speak softly at the moment -- and let their handsets do the talking.

    After the iPhone smoke clears.
    Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.