Microsoft has haemorrhaged a fortune on its mobile business through its ill-fated acquisition of Nokia and sluggish uptake of its Windows Phone platform. It's hurting the company's bottom line but can Microsoft change its mobile fortunes through opportunities in the enterprise?
Developers have no love for Windows Phone judging by the lack of apps available for the platform. A robust developer ecosystem is crucial to the success of any mobile platform and iOS and Android have a million miles head start over Windows Phone.
Microsoft is fully aware of this, which is why earlier this month it launched a preview of Windows Bridge, a tool allowing coders to port iOS apps to Windows (you can get the code on GitHub here). It's still early days but suffice to say it will be a hard slog for Windows Phone in the consumer market even with Windows Bridge to entice app developers. The tool does nothing to encourage developers to create apps specifically for Windows Phone that will showcase its unique features. It might make existing users happy but it hardly provides an incentive to woo new adopters.
According to analyst firm, Telsyte, Windows Phone's marketing share locally and globally is around five per cent and a large portion of that are made up of enterprise users. Yes, there are a lot of iOS and Android business users but considering many IT departments are open to supporting different mobile platforms, it makes for a more welcoming environment for Windows Phone.
IDC analyst for mobility, Joseph Hsiao, believes Windows Phone is on a level playing field with iOS and Android in the enterprise market. Most organisations already run Windows on their PCs and it is predicted that many companies will be upgrading to Windows 10. The new OS touts a "universal" apps feature meaning apps will run across any Windows 10 device including tablets and phones. This will most certainly help Windows Phone gain momentum with business users.
"Windows as a platform is geared towards content creation such as digital media and, more importantly for enterprises, work documents and emails," Hsiao told Lifehacker Australia. "Microsoft has brought out some solid productivity software such as Office which integrates well with Windows Phone. Pairing that with universal apps for Windows 10 devices, Windows Phone in the enterprise makes sense."
Telyste analyst, Foad Fadaghi, also thinks the popularity of Windows 10 will make the adoption of Windows Phone much more attractive to businesses.
"In terms of improved security and features, Windows 10 is heading in the right direction and that's going to help the case for Windows Phone for businesses," he said.
Apple and Google aren't oblivious to mobile opportunities in the enterprise space. They are both painfully aware the consumer mobile market is oversaturated and there isn't much new business to be had there.
Both companies are fighting aggresively to ingratiate themselves with organisations. Apple teamed up with IBM to get more iOS devices into enterprises last year and Google has greatly expanded its Android for Work program to make the OS more attractive to companies.
Competition is heating up in the area of enterprise mobility and this is where Microsoft can really shine and get back on track with the Windows Phone platform.
Will you consider Windows Phone for your business? Let us know in the comments.