Wednesday, August 20, 2008

iPhone OS not really updated 5x more often than Windows Mobile

I hate the comparison of today's mobile industry to the PC industry of the 80's - for a variety of business and technical reasons it just ain't gonna play out the same - but Daniel's analysis is informed and thoughtful, and I don't have any real issues with his speculations about the future.

However, he does make a significant factual error that needs correcting...
Daniel writes: "Over the last two years, Apple delivered eleven updates to the iPhone OS compared to two from Microsoft, despite the fact that Apple only sold the iPhone over three fourths of that period. Over the next two years, Apple will likely ship another dozen updates while Microsoft only plans to ship one: Windows Mobile 7."
What has actually happened: Microsoft has shipped one major Windows Mobile release (6.1) since the iPhone was released last June - compared to Apple's three (1.0, 1.1, 2.0). During this same period Microsoft has also shipped at least one minor release every other month.

Since Apple began iPhone development (rumored to be at some point in 2005), Microsoft shipped at least four major releases and was also shipping at least one minor release every other month.

So the total number of releases of the two platforms over the last 2-3 years has been much more balanced then Daniel indicates. And there's no reason to think that Microsoft's Windows Mobile release periodicity will decrease going forward.

It is true that end users have not been able to install all of these Windows Mobile releases on every device, but Microsoft did ship them and did not prevent OEMs and mobile operators from making them available to end users. From an ROI perspective, it often didn't - and still doesn't - make sense for OEMs and mobile operators to do this, and for a given device many of these releases simply weren't relevant. For example, the primary purpose of some releases was to better integrate with a specfic operator's network configuration. For others it was to add support for a new display resolution.

I should know, I was on the Windows Mobile team from January 2004 until January of this year.

BTW I'm defining a major release as one that contains features that end users would consider new or significantly improved, whereas a minor release contains primarily bug fixes or features that only an OEM or mobile operator would consider significant.