Win ME: Bigger, Better, Stronger, Less?

Last week during the frenzy that was CES, Microsoft put out two statements that I find slightly confusing. Statement no. 1 was the announcement from Steve Ballmer that more than 20 million Windows Mobile devices had been shipped in 2008. He went on to marvel 

"about the momentum we have…We have delivered 11 different mobile phones that have each sold a million units each, and in the past year, we’ve brought to market over 30 new Windows Mobile phones, or more than any other mobile platform in the market”
Statement no. 2 was made by Todd Peters (the VP Marketing for Windows Mobile) who said that we s
hould expect fewer devices with Windows Mobile on them. In his words: 
"I'd rather have fewer devices and be more focused [as] we get better integration [between phone and operating system]."
Microsoft apparently fears they would be diluting their efforts when they would support the 140 or so WinME devices that are out there today. Hmmm.

Both gentlemen obviously glanced at Apple and the iPhone (can you imagine the sting this must have given Mr Ballmer?). There, hardware and software come out of one hand and there is one device only. The result: great UI, happy users, more use of content, data, etc than ever before. Apple is famously paranoid about controlling all bits of the user experience, and they are masters of it. However, when there is success in the mobile handset space, there is also e.g. Nokia: many, many handset models, now all running Symbian (i.e. another smartphone OS), selling lots and lots of devices all over the world (OK, outside the US). Nokia has fallen behind on the ease of use that used to be a pillar of their rise to fame (and riches) but they serve the lower-end emerging markets as well as the top end of it (something like the N96 etc boast features like few others). 

So is the "1 OEM, 1 handset model" philosophy the only winning one? I doubt. Is MSFT maybe mistaken in believing that fewer handsets will mean better overall user experience? I for one do think so. Apple's success came through a winning formula that combines GUI design, user experience and superb marketing for an overall sexy product. Microsoft has always been lacking Apple's flair as well as the genial simplicity with which Apple manages to provide solutions that are often a lot less elegant and more complicated than Microsoft's. But, guys, you don't solve this by getting your OS out less. You have got to put some work into the OS and its APIs, and - as some commentators to Mr Peters' comment that they would "extract more from this license" noted - it helps to look at a product from a consumer perspective rather than from the corporate boardroom's product P&L, at least when you speak in public!

Update: There has been a bit of a media tussle over this. I posted an update over here.

Carnival of the Mobilists #156

This week's Carnival of the Mobilists is hosted over at Dennis Bournique's WAP Review. Read it here to get an inspired overview of last week's posts on all things mobile!

Comes with Music Comes to Mama

Nokia's "Comes With Music" service (unlimited downloads of 4m+ music tracks), which you get when you buy a phone, had been announced with much fanfare but it went a bit quiet after that. Now "early results" from the service show that it is mothers appear to be amongst the leading adopters, according to a Nokia executive. Unfortunately, that seems to be amongst the few bits of information they would let out into the public, the only other one being fairly obvious: recommendation is a driver (did they consult Amazon?) and chart coverage matters (Popularity matters? What?).

It would be wonderful would Nokia actually release a showcase of what it achieved with the service. I appreciate that they will want to wait since the service has gone live in the UK first and that only recently but I do hope that they will enlighten us...