Friday, September 14, 2007

iPhone vs. Windows Mobile: Reflections on why Windows Mobile has been such a dud

Ouch. It's rare to read such a harshly honest review of anything ...
iPhone alternative for the cheap, patient user - Geek Guide - The Grand Rapids Press -

After my wife got an iPhone, I became somewhat obsessed with the idea of having a handheld device for phone calls, taking photos, e-mail, Web browsing and other minor computing tasks.

Since I'm cheap (and a family plan for two iPhones starts at about $110), I was excited to pick up a refurbished AT&T 8525 for $200 in late July. For an extra $20 a month on top of my wife's iPhone bill, we have a pool of 550 minutes for phone calls and I can use the device's WiFi to access the Internet (AT&T wanted another $40 for unlimited data service through its network).

With the phone's slideout keyboard, I looked forward to the device boosting my productivity.

My excitement about the phone soon turned sour. The phone's Windows Mobile 5 operating system and user interface is garbage compared to the iPhone. And unlike the iPhone, which was easy to setup, I spent hours trying to set up the WiFi...
Jeff hates his 8525, largely due to the limitations of Windows Mobile 5. I suspect Windows Mobile 6 is little better. If he needed Outlook integration (PDA functions) as I do, he'd probably have had better things to say about WM, but this review is significant because he's comparing media-phone functionality. In that domain it's easy to see how the iPhone would trash the competition.

This is also the first discussion I've read that talks about family use of the iPhone. I'm waiting for the first true family users to realize that iTunes (esp. on Vista and OS X) is configured for a single user, not multiple users ...

Lastly, the silence about Windows Mobile, and its many, many name and branding changes over the years, has always made me suspect there was something very wrong with it. Paired up with Outlook/Exchange, it was good enough to cause Palm to self-destruct, but it seems that was just about all it could do. Blackberry squashed Windows Mobile like a bug.

Why has Windows Mobile been such a dud? Was it because each device manufacturer (for many years) had their own version and they, not Microsoft, controlled the user experience? Was it a deep architectural flaw? A business problem? Microsoft's incompetence? All of the above?

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