Thursday, March 06, 2008

iPhone surprise: Microsoft is on board. Why?

About one week ago Michael Mace declared the mobile application marketplace dead.

Today Apple's developer web site was knocked off the net, completely obliterated, by people downloading the beta version of the iPhone SDK.

Sorry Michael.

Of course my critique of Mace's thesis wasn't perfect. I wrote:

... So now we have the iPhone. The browser experience leads people like Mace to predict that the browser is the new platform.


On the other hand, there are a lot of very, very smart developers who want to create the best possible native experiences for millions of iPhone users. Experiences that work on airplanes, cars, trains and lots of other places where the wireless experience sucks. Sure, you'll be able to create disconnected apps using Google Gears 2009 and Adobe AIR 2009, but they won't have the smooth elegance of native apps.

If Apple can prosper while staying clear of Microsoft's Exchange turf (don't go there Apple, it's a death trap) Mace may discover that he's declared the mobile platform dead at exactly the wrong time ...

Well, Apple didn't exactly steer clear of Exchange. They've embraced it, even licensing Microsoft's ActiveSync technology (current version supports sync with Exchange AND Outlook, but I didn't see the latter mentioned.)

Microsoft is playing along, helping Apple far more than they've helped RIM. Not to mention Microsoft's past use of Exchange to eviscerate Palm almost a decade ago.

So why is Microsoft playing nice? Are they just luring Apple into a pit of doom? Is this a clever way to bury RIM/BlackBerry without getting into antitrust problems? How the heck does Microsoft intend to protect their crappy corporate Mobile platform if the iPhone can sync with Exchange?

Those billion dollar EU fines have to be a part of the reason. Microsoft's (mis)use of Exchange protocols is cost money even they notice.

Even so, ActiveSync licensing?

I really don't think Microsoft is going to drop Windows Mobile and embrace the iPhone, but this is weird.

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