Microsoft was hoping to put to make a fresh start in the cell phone world last week. It introduced a new operating system and held lavish launch events in Europe and New York to help promote Windows Mobile 6.5.
But, out of nowhere, the past and future collided to give the company a one-two PR punch.
Mobile 6.5, it turns out, was given a resounding raspberry by the critics, who said it still lags well behind the systems from Google and Apple. Now, the headache that comes from the company’s ties with the existing Sidekick model is quickly turning into a migraine.
To catch up those who haven’t heard, a massive hardware failure last week resulted in some customers permanently losing their email, contacts and other data. Users and the tech media have been vilifying the phone and now T-Mobile is getting in on the act, suspending sales of all Sidekick models.
Microsoft owns the company that makes Sidekicks – ironically named Danger. It bought it last year as it attempted to expand the Windows operating system’s presence in the mobile market.
T-Mobile has been steering blame for the problems towards Microsoft, noting that Danger was responsible for maintaining the personal data.
This all comes as Microsoft prepares to bet heavily on the mobile phone market. Company spokespersons indicated last week that it plans to ramp up spending on the devices, with more frequent updates of its operating system and new features planned in its roadmap over the next few years.
In fact, Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment & devices division, seemed to indicate a preference for the cell phone market when asked about a portable gaming device, saying “You have to decide which direction the market is going, though. Is it going to stay with portable devices and continue to grow or is the phone you get going to be powerful enough to handle games? I’m probably more biased to think that [phones are] the direction the market is going. … The way technology is advancing with phones, [they are] going to be a very strong platform. The only thing holding it back today is battery life.”
Losing data and coming out with sub-par OS’s, though, isn’t exactly how the company had hoped to position itself as it prepared for expansion.