Thursday, February 26, 2009

Zune Phone

Message to Microsoft: Make a Zune phone!

I currently use a corporate pda phone running Windows Mobile 5.0 and my brand new Android powered T-mobile G1. I hadn't realized how bad the Windows Mobile 5.0 OS was until I had some real time to use my new Google powered phone. Before I purchased the G1 I tried out all of the in-store phones running Windows Mobile 6.1 and, in truth, they are not much better. It seems like Microsoft went to great lengths to make WinMo have a distinctive Windows feel, much to the detriment of actual usability. My Zune, however, has a great user interface, it's easy and fast to use.

My proposed WinMo roadmap: pull some of the WinMo Dev team off of current WinMo development and send them to the Zune team, make the current WinMo OS "Windows Mobile Corporate", then make a "Zune OS" using the current Zune firmware as a base. This could be done incrementally which would provide more value for both current and future devices:

First, Microsoft should start by releasing a nice open, well documented sdk for the current Zune that allowed apps to be created for current gen Zune devices, with support for wi-fi and compatability with the WinMo sdk.
Second, release a Zune app store.
Third, use the WinMo members added to the Zune team to port over some of the phone features of WinMo to the Zune firmware and repackage as "Zune OS". Two flavors of this OS should exist, one for media players and one for phones, with the media player edition the same OS, just without the phone functions/ hardware.
Fourth, add in touch screen support and release a Zune Touch media player.
Fifth, follow bug reports to clean up errant problems caused by touch screen support and app store support.
Sixth, announce a Zune OS for mobile phones to great applause!

Now, on the surface this proposal looks like just another way to copy Apple and in a way, it is. However I say they take a slightly different approach: stop making Zunes. Microsoft should instead use my proposed Zune OS much in the way that it uses its WinMo OS now, license it to manufacturers. The Zune OS could gain a lot of ground if a manufacturer were able to use the same processor, same sdk and the same base OS to create a full line of media players and phones.

My proposed "Windows Mobile Corporate" should really continue down its current path. Companies require the security, stability, and the tried and true sdk to continue day to day operations, but the consumer doesn't need compatibility for a program written 5 years ago.

I love my Zune. I love the look of the device, the interface (especially since firmware 2.5), the features. A Zune phone seems nearly inevitable, I just hope that Microsoft takes a hard look at creating a new OS for a Zune phone rather than slapping a new UI on Windows Mobile.

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