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Why Is Windows Mobile Losing To Android In The Smartphone Market?

We brought you news yesterday that sales of Android-based smartphones have been surging lately at the expense of Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform, something that was expected given the amount of handsets based on Google's mobile platform that have flooded the market over the last 12 months.

However, Microsoft itself is suffering from self-inflicted wounds for which it only needs to blame itself.

First there's the issue associated with licensing; handset manufacturers need to pay a fee for each Windows Mobile smartphone they sell, this is how Microsoft makes a profit.

Now the fee might be small but in an environment where profit margins are razor thin, every penny counts and in this game, nothing beats free as in Google Android.

Then there's the fact that Windows Mobile lags significantly behind its main competitors. Windows Mobile 6.53, the latest official iteration first appeared, in February 2010 and is the latest version of Windows Mobile 6.5 which was launched in ... May.

The latter is itself a major upgrade for Windows Mobile 6 which was released back in February 2007, that's even before Apple launched the iPhone. As for the latest technologies, well, for example, you can't even do multi touch on Windows Mobile as it stands.

Android offers more control to the handset manufacturers as it is an open source mobile platform. It means for example that they can offer enough unique selling points to differentiate themselves from other Android-based rivals. Practically, we see that HTC came up with the Sense UI while Sony Ericsson has the Timescape and the Mediascape UIs.

Finally the most pertinent reason why Windows Mobile is taking a beating from Android is that the former doesn't offer any App store like Application repository for now. Sure, you've got thousands of Windows Mobile Apps but they cannot be installed as easily as you'd do for Android or the iPhone (opens in new tab).

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.