Microsoft: "We're in the mobile business in a big way"

At last week's Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting 2007, president of the entertainment and devices division Robbie Bach addressed the software giant's connected entertainment strategy, emphasizing its increasing efforts on the mobile platform. "[A] big change is the predominance of mobile phones and the ability for us to deliver entertainment experiences on those mobile phones," Bach said at the event. "And I think that creates--because we're in the mobile business in a big way, and have had some success there--creates another opportunity for us."

Some highlights of Bach's address:

  • "We will sell, or there will be sold, over 20 million Windows Mobile-based phone-enabled devices this year. We think that's a significant sign of momentum in the platform. We're getting the best designs from the hardware manufacturers, we're getting great work from the operators to build services around our phones, and you're going to see us continue to expand that over time."
  • "You're also going to see us start to focus a little bit more outside of what I would call the business space. Certainly our strength today is Windows Mobile phones used as a business tool. But the fact is people use their phones for their personal lives as well as their business lives, and it's not like they have two or three phones that they switch depending on what they're doing. And so we are expanding the lifestyle offerings in the Windows Mobile space that we have. You'll see this in terms of the services we offer on top of Windows Mobile, the ability to integrate those services in a nice way--things we're doing with MSN, with our mapping products, with our search product; and you're going to see new form factors that really appeal more to a casual consumer or somebody who's interested in an entertainment phone or something along those lines."
  • "As [Windows Mobile 6] starts to roll out and become more ubiquitous you're going to see continued focus from us there. You're also going to see us be able to build applications on top of that platform beyond what you might think of typical phone applications, things like CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Exchange applications and other mobile applications."

Asked about the impact of Apple's iPhone, Bach responded: "If you think about the iPhone, the awareness it has brought to the category is positive. I think that's good for everybody who is in the category, particularly good for people who are in the category at less than $600, because I think it drives interest…I think historically if you went back three or four years there was sort of this, the handset guys did what the handset guys did, the operators did what the operators did, and we produced an operating system, and sent it to people. And you're seeing that change now. People are saying, gosh, what's the experience I'm going to have on my phone, and I need to work with people really closely to produce a great experience beyond a great telephony experience. And that's a place where we can add a ton of value."

For more of Bach's Financial Analyst Meeting presentation:
- read this transcript