Verizon's CEO says Windows Phone 7 (WP7) will overtake RIM and BlackBerry as one of the "Big Three" in the mobile space in a year or so. But CIO.com's Al Sacco is skeptical of Microsoft and WP7. Here's why.
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
One more critic predicting the demise of BlackBerry really isn’t news at this point; indeed, it seems another analyst or pundit pops out of the woodwork every week, ready to bury Research In Motion (RIM) where it stands.
But when a CEO of one of the largest telecommunications providers in the United States says he doesn’t think RIM or BlackBerry will be a major mobile player in a year or two, it’s noteworthy, because said CEO actually has the power to influence whether or not his company continues to distribute BlackBerry smartphones to its customers. (Verizon Wireless, Verizon’s wireless arm, which sells BlackBerry smartphones, is a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.)
Lowell McAdam, Verizon Communications CEO, speaking at a Goldman Sachs event on Wednesday, reportedly said that he doesn’t think there’s room in the wireless world for more than three “ecosystems.” Currently there are four major players in the handset space: Google’s Android; Apple’s iOS; RIM’s BlackBerry; and Microsoft WP7.
McAdam said that wireless carriers are starting to see a need to cut the number of major platforms they support down to three. And over the next year, the Verizon CEO sees Android and iOS continuing to lead the charge, with Microsoft eventually beating out RIM.
It’s no secret that I’m a BlackBerry fanboi advocate; I’ve written about RIM and BlackBerry almost exclusively over the past few years, and though I own and have access to a variety of mobile devices, including an iPhone, multiple Android devices and a WP7 handset, I still use a BlackBerry as my main device, or my “daily driver.” And that’s because a BlackBerry still suits my personal needs best.
I certainly realize that RIM has seen better days, and that BlackBerry will never be the iconic smartphone brand it once was. But I think that’s a good thing. The more options consumers have the better.
And I’m not convinced that there’s only room for three major mobile platforms, either. I’m certainly not convinced that Microsoft will suddenly pop out of the shadows, and its WP7 platform will steal away thousands, even millions, of smartphone users from RIM and others.
WP7 has been around for more than a year now, and frankly, I see very little interest in the platform. I know a few folks who own WP7 devices, and most of them really like the handsets. But the amount of WP7 users I’ve encountered pales in comparison to the number of friends/colleagues/readers I know who own iPhones/Androids/BlackBerrys. I’m not saying that couldn’t change, and change quickly, but I honestly do not see such a significant transformation happening within the coming year. And then there’s the enterprise side of things, where RIM really does still have a number of advantages over its competitors.
I’m anxious to see what Microsoft has up its sleeve with the next major WP7 update, dubbed Mango—in fact, I have a meeting scheduled with Microsoft to get my hands on a Mango WP7 device next week. After spending some time with the current version of WP7, I got bored very quickly, because there really isn’t much to the OS, at this point; it’s very basic.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.