Microsoft has hit back against jibes from the world's largest technology analyst firm, Gartner, which attacked its Windows Mobile operating system last week and questioned its future in an enterprise context. At Gartner's annual symposium in Sydney last week, analyst Robin Simpson advised companies not to invest in Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform.
"My view is Windows Mobile is in diabolical trouble," he said.
He suggested the increased success of competing products such as Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone meant Microsoft was faced with a challenge to remain relevant. Customers were using these devices in their personal lives and translating that to the workplace, he said.
"The changes to the way people use mobile devices are so dramatic that some of the older players in this game are under big threat," he said.
The criticism comes as a blow for Microsoft's ambitions in the lucrative enterprise space given Gartner's influence as a research and consulting organisation with 60,000 subscribers worldwide, mostly chief information officers and other senior technology and business executives.
At the end of Mr Simpson's presentation, some Microsoft clients in the audience asked his advice on getting out of their current Microsoft negotiations and more suitable alternative providers.
Mr Simpson said Microsoft's Windows Mobile was already losing market share at a steady pace.
"Windows Mobile is not a very nice story," he said.
"It has been losing about 1 per cent [of market share] on a quarterly basis for a fairly long time now."
Gartner reported another 12.8 per cent year-on-year increase for the smartphone market overall. But the figures included a continued decline in Microsoft's share of the mobile operating system market worldwide, from 9 per cent in the second quarter to 8.2 per cent in the third quarter.
The report showed BlackBerry reached its highest share yet at 20 per cent, while Apple's market share jumped from 13.3 per cent to 17 per cent and Google's infant Android system increased its presence to claim a total 3.5 per cent (up from 2 per cent in the previous quarter).
Microsoft Australia's director for Windows Mobile, Grace Kerrison, said its mobile platform remained a "main pillar for company growth"..
She said the Windows Mobile 6.5 developer kit had already been downloaded 110,000 times since it was launched in June and was leading to strong growth in the number of applications available to Windows Mobile customers.
"During fiscal 2009, Microsoft secured 491 enterprise wins globally where 500 devices or more were purchased," she said.
"Windows phones enable businesses to keep their operational costs low by leveraging their existing infrastructure investments."
However Mr Simpson said the legacy skills argument was becoming less powerful as most organisations would find they had individuals already on their staff who were skilled in implementing and developing alternative operating systems such as Android or iPhone. Fairfax Business Media