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On this day in history...

Handheld PC News

Posted 11 years ago | News | Chris Tilley 2 comments

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The 22nd of October, 2002. Does anyone remember that day? No? Well, neither does Wikipedia.

Least we assume that by virtue of its absence on Wikipedia (the fountain of all useful knowledge) that the Tuesday that was the 22nd of October 2002 never actually happened. A little blip in the reminders and notification section of my diary this morning suggests to me that in fact it did indeed happen.

The 22nd of October is significant because of what some might regards as a historical irony - or even a joke - which from its original telling was to forecast the changing face of the mobile devices market and indeed the entire consumer electronics market (all in spite of what happened that morning).

In a large press event held in London and with over 500 mobile operators, software and hardware vendors present. Microsoft announced to the world its first Smartphone strategy, the "Microsoft Smartphone" or as it more closely resembles today, the Windows Powered Smartphone.

To put this into context, this was around 18 months after Palm released the Kyocera 6035 smartphone and approximately 1 year after Apple released the iPod which itself would eventually become the iPhone some 5 years later in 2007.

For most, history will record that the release failed to achieve much relative to modern standards although Microsoft were the dominant player in the industry for a number of years. Yet they failed to make a large impression on the wider consumer psyche and at the time the economics of the manufacture of the devices and the phone contracts and data networks needed to support them were not conducive towards mass market penetration.

The observant amongst you may realise that the announcement was more the offering of a strategy to the world with Microsoft inviting key partners to stand with them on the same platform, smiling for the camera. It was not technically an actual product launch.

Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition (PPC PE) was actually announced in Cannes, France on 19th February 2002 with handsets first appearing on the market in the early summer of 2002. With this in mind, what is actually telling is that today marks the 11th anniversary not of Microsoft first foray into the Smartphone market, but of their first attempt to resuscitate their market position and to convince others to buy into it; something that they have been attempting desperately to do every year with commercial vengeance in mind since the arrival of the iPhone in 2007.

Regardless of its historic footnote, the strategy announced on that stage did give early technology adopters the chance to benefit from features that would only enter the wider public consciousness with the release of the iPhone in 2007. Features such as integrated PIM, SMS, email and messaging via MSN Messenger as well as web browsing and image viewing were all here as part of this strategy back in 2002. If we accept the lack of an app store and the premise that social networking was in its infancy back in 2002, then there is very little else that the average Smartphone users does today that they could not do relative to the times back in 2002.

The announcement also gave significant weight to what in the west were a little known Taiwanese company called HTC. HTC stood shoulder to shoulder with Microsoft at the beginning of the PPC PE release and were the first OEM to release commercially on the platform. HTC were also to be the un-sung creators of a number of the HP iPaq devices which were arguably the most prominent devices of the original PPC PE generation.

11 years on, HTC are still found in the Windows Phone market, just. With Microsoft's cash purchase of Nokia earlier in the year, analysts have started to speculate that HTC will start to drift away from Windows Phone which is dominated by the Lumia with 80% Windows Phone share, but in a market which itself only represents around 5% of the global smartphone market.

So when we come around to the 12th anniversary of the Windows Phone strategy, will Microsoft have lost their oldest Smartphone partner and consequently will Microsoft be the only player left trying to believe in the Windows Phone strategy that they've fought so hard to try and define for all these years?

See also: Microsoft Rings in Pocket PC Phone Edition

View: Microsoft Launches Windows Powered Smartphone Software
Posted on 22 October 2013 at 08:58By Chris Tilley (C:Amie)

Comments on this article

takwu's Avatar takwu 07 December 2013 9:16:30 AM
Finally found this picture of my first smartphone: a Mio 8390 running Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone (the second version of Microsoft's smartphone OS)

Joff's Avatar Joff 09 February 2014 4:09:58 PM
Anyone remembers Sendo and the Z100?
Sendo was working very closy with M$ at the time and sued M$ for allegedly giving their design away to HTC:


I still own an Oragne SPV :-)
M$ was ahead of its time but too complesant I'm afraid.
Fans (I am one of them) had been asking M$ to setup a Apps store but never listened, that was a fatal mistake which they may never recover from...

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