Editorial: Windows Of Opportunity

Apr 04 2014, 03:05 IST
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SummaryMicrosoft recognises changing markets, makes Windows free for small computing devices

Microsoft has made Windows, including Windows Phone, free for any computing device that has a screen size of less than 9 inches. The move will likely stump rival operating systems (OS) in the mobile segment, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. What surprises the most is Microsoft has always been a champion of licenced software, having made its riches selling the world’s most popular OS for PCs. But the world is headed a different way—PC sales fell by over 10% yoy in 2013, to 314 million, while smartphones shot past 1 billion, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). Thus, it seems that with the free-OS move, Microsoft acknowledges that the fight now is for a different market. However, Windows Phone comes a distant third after Android and iOS, in market share for smartphone operating system. In fact,

Android and iOS powered nearly 96% of the total smartphones sold in the last quarter of 2013, according to IDC. iOS remains the second-most popular smartphone OS despite being Apple-specific while Android, the market-leader, is free-to-use. Both OSs offer free updates as well.

In India, the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, Lava and Karbonn smartphones will come with the pre-loaded Windows Phone. It helps that the two Indian smartphone makers together had a market share of 15%. With the USP of both companies being low prices and analysts predicting that the rural market will expand greatly on the back of affordable prices, Microsoft could as well ride the surge in terms of reach. What remains to be seen is how Microsoft monetises this very probable rise in reach.

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