Editor's Corner

Why Everyone is Afraid of the iPod, including Microsoft

Microsoft this week made its latest foray into the wireless market by launching the newest version of its mobile software, Windows Mobile 5.0. Microsoft hopes the angle that will make this effort more successful than its previous mobile platforms is digital media. The company is clearly trying to make Windows the cornerstone of the wireless digital home. Microsoft hopes that the growing popularity of mobile music will allow it extend its reach in the home market over to the handset market.

The logic is simple: Why use the iPod when you can centrally store and manage all your media files -- video and audio -- on Windows and access it on any device, so long as it runs Windows?

There is clearly one roadblock to this strategy: The iPod. There is no denying the fact that the iPod is a runaway success. The simple gadget has defined a market and its sales only continue to grow. To date Apple has sold more than 15 million iPods. No other mobile music device or service even comes close.

Apple learned from Sony's mistakes with the Walkman in the 1980s. Instead of just building a cool gadget, Apple created a sleek, easy-to-use platform built around that gadget that makes it easy to acquire, manage, and share digital music. The iTunes platform allows Apple to control all the ways iPod users access and buy their content. No other solution, not even Microsoft's Windows, is as comprehensive and user friendly.

While the iPod faces a challenge from the entire wireless industry -- including Microsoft, Nokia, and the carriers -- the device is still the mobile music leader. Until Microsoft or someone else figures out a way to convince consumers that their mobile music solutions are just as fun and cool as the iPod, this market is Apple's to lose.

On another note, please join me for the next two FierceWireless Live! events. The first event, "Cisco Mobile Exchange - The Enabling Platform," is on May 18 at 1pm ET/10am PT. Learn about the potential IP can bring to cellular networks and what Cisco System's solution can do for your network. Click here to register and learn more. The second event, "Simplifying WiFi and One Bill Roaming for Your Customers," is on May 24 at 2pm ET/11am PT. Join Stephen and experts from Intel to learn how service providers can provide easier, simple WiFi roaming services. Learn best practices for both WiFi and WiMax services. Click here to register and learn more. - Stephen