One device to rule them all?


The first Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphone went on sale over Memorial Day weekend when HTC released the Touch Dual, a device combining the manufacturer's TouchFLO touch-screen technology and a slide-out keypad. But a Windows Mobile 7.0 handset may hit retail before the year is out: Brighthand reports that at a press event for MWg, the device maker showcased its 2008 product roadmap, including the Flame II, a Windows Mobile 7.0 smartphone scheduled to ship in the fourth quarter, even though the OS wasn't expected to make its formal debut until the first half of 2009. Details on the Flame II and Windows Mobile 7.0 otherwise remain scarce--leaked reports suggest the OS will emphasize touch technology and device gestures as well as overhaul the existing Windows UI to feature scrolling, tiles and visual aesthetics.

Speaking at a Microsoft press event last week at the software giant's Redmond, Washington headquarters, senior vice president of mobile communications Andrew Lees said the unit's orientation moving forward is neither business nor consumer--"It's business and consumer," he said according to a Total Telecom report, adding "People don't see themselves as business or consumer." Microsoft's new mantra is simple: Users want a single device for all their mobile needs and demands. Even the most enterprise-centric customers want some consumer features and applications, and vice versa. In other words, Microsoft wants to be Apple. Easier said than done, of course.

But Microsoft remains convinced that its February acquisition of Sidekick maker Danger is the key to unlocking the consumer puzzle. While Microsoft execs were unwilling to disclose the company's specific plans for Danger at last week's press event, they said the deal was made to acquire Danger's software and services expertise, not its installed base. Time will tell exactly what Microsoft has in mind, but its quest to become all things to all people seems like a fool's errand at best--more often than not, when you set out to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. -Jason