Sunday, February 08, 2009

Imagine: How and why Microsoft should pervert the iPhone

Imagine we lived in an alternate reality where Apple didn't forbid applications that competed with its iPhone suite. Yes, I know it's hard. History was very different in that universe. Maybe Jobs achieved true spiritual enlightenment a few years back, and the alternative-Apple's board wasn't able to fire him.

In that reality, like here, former Palm geeks were fed up with Apple's PIM/PDA services and current BlackBerry users snorted their coffee when contemplating the iPhone ...
Gordon's Notes: The straw that broke my iPhone love

... What makes this straw a back breaker is not simply that iPhone calendaring is pathetic, it's that Apple forbids alternatives. Even on OS X there are a few alternatives to Apple products, but on the iPhone only Apple can use the USB cable, and vendors are explicitly forbidden to distribute alternatives to Apple's core applications. On the iPhone it's Apple's, or it's nothing.

It's a bad story, and, short of a revolution in Apple's attitude, it's not going to get better. Astonishingly, the Apple iPhone and MobileMe have made me miss the old Microsoft.

So I've stopped recommending the iPhone to others anyone who needs at least PalmPilot 1994 functionality, and I won't be replacing my wife's (miserable) BlackBerry Pearl with an iPhone...
In this alternate reality, Dr Doom Microsoft can be a dark hero.

Microsoft Outlook is an ugly mongrel of ancient code, but it spanks iCal and Address Book. So imagine if Microsoft were to create an iPhone calendaring, task, contact and memo suite tied to Outlook, Entourage, Exchange Server and their newest incarnation of Windows Live.

Consider the advantages for Microsoft
  • They'd have a great weapon against RIM (BlackBerry)
  • They could charge $50 an iPhone app and make a bit of change
  • They'd bind more customers to Windows Live, which they could leverage to provide streaming music and video services (remember, in this alternate reality the iPhone is open to Apple's competitors). Maybe they start charging for a bundled streaming media and data store service and generate revenue there.
  • Microsoft's iPhone address book could be used to tie customers to their messaging solutions, from email to instant messaging
  • They'd make it very easy for customers to switch to Microsoft's phones since they'd have a simple data migration solution
  • They'd have several tools to pry people from Google's calendaring, email, contacts, identity, pending telephony/video (GrandCentral) and, eventually, search solutions
  • An iPhone/iTouch platform could be a part of Microsoft's Netbook response strategy.
In that bizarre reality, I'd be singing the praises of Lex Luthor Steve Ballmer.

Wow. Rescued by Microsoft. That's weird. I'm almost grateful it can't happen here.

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