Microsoft & Nokia Reach Market Dominance In 2015... Or Not


A few years ago, I was on the bandwagon of belief when all of the tech pundits made bold predictions that Nokia & Microsoft would reach total market dominance over Android & Apple by the year 2015. What happened?

We all bought the story because of the reasoning, that Nokia once dominated the world of feature phones, and that Microsoft dominated the world of operating systems. Windows Mobile plus Nokia hardware was supposed to equal unparalleled success in the smartphone market.

But what happened?

All of the cards foretold of fortunes to be made by these two tech juggernauts, and the planets were supposedly lined up to create the stage for the impending takeover of the smartphone world. But now that we have reached 2015, where is Microsoft and Nokia in the grand scheme of things?

Apple continues to dominate with the new iPhone 6 and 6+, with the new iOS 8 platform. And Samsung continues to squash the Android market with its flagship Galaxy products, powered by Android KitKat. But our "match made in heaven" comprised of Microsoft and Nokia seems to be lagging far behind, as they always have.

I thought Microsoft and Nokia had a great start with the Lumia 920 smartphone, and all of the later versions of their device. The operating system was supposed to be super easy to use, and a much better match for those of us using Windows based PCs. I thought I would be a prime target for converting to Windows on my smartphone, since I use a PC and a laptop every day.

But it never happened. I've tested and tried the Nokia devices using the Windows Phone platform. While I did find it easy to use, I worried about not having the ability to find all of my most favorite apps under their system. When I switched from Apple to Android in 2012, I was able to download about 80% of my most used apps on the Android platform.

I'm hard-pressed to believe that Windows will capture the attention of developers around the world and motivate them to bring all of my favorite apps to the Windows Phone market. It hasn't happened yet, and I don't have much confidence believing it will in the near future.

While the Windows-based Nokia devices are super slick and durable, I have found them to be a total pain-in-the-derrier when it comes to servicing and repairing the hardware. As the owner of a smartphone repair shop, I have learned to send Nokia smartphone owners to my competitors down the street. Cracked screen? Busted LCD panel? Take it somewhere else, because it's not worth the headache.

That might be part of the reason why Nokia failed to dominate the market as predicted. It might just be that Microsoft and Nokia never became "cool". Whether their devices and operating system functionality is great, or a pile of crap, nothing matters until their products become a "thing".

The smartphone market is like the fashion industry. Until Microsoft and Nokia become "cool" in the minds of consumers, they will never hit critical mass and dominate the market. I would love to see a competitor break into the Apple/Android monopoly, but I don't believe we will witness such an even for a few years if anything.

In the meantime, It's Samsung & Android for me on the smartphone front, Apple's iPad for my tablet, and my Windows-based custom PC for my desktop.

What do you think the reasons are behind the failure of Microsoft and Nokia to fulfill the predictions of the past? I'd sure like to hear your opinion!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

Windows 8.1 Overhaul Coming Soon - "Start" Return?


The masses spoke out, and Microsoft listened! The new version of Windows 8.1 coming this year will give back what everyone misses the most, the Start button. Not only that, we'll be getting even more significant updates.

Right when everyone thought that that Windows 8 would spell the demise of the legendary dominant operating system, the proposed changes may put them back solidly in control. Microsoft’s Jensen Harris and Antoine Leblond presented an update in San Francisco on May 29th that has everyone excited at the BUILD developer’s conference.

We'll have to wait until the end of the year for this monumental rollout, but it will be worth the wait. I've held off on updating my desktop and laptop, but I'll be ready to get on board once Windows 8.1 is officially released.

So to all my fellow geek friends who have told me how much they despise Windows 8 for being such a tremendous left turn off the beaten path of their familiar operating system, there's hope! Let's take a brief look at some of the changes that are significant.


  • The "Start" button will return, allowing Windows to come back to its most familiar basic functionality.
  • The customizable lock screen will have a single full-screen image,  becoming what they call “the world’s best cloud-powered photo frame.”
  • The start screen will have 2 new sizes allowed, bringing the total to 4 sizes.
  • The Start layout will allow installed apps to roam between Windows 8 devices connected to the same Microsoft account (very nice).
  • The Metro-style PC Settings section will be expanded to include all the Windows settings that were formerly part of the desktop Control Panel.
  • You will get a completely new "Windows Store" design.
  • You won't get the huge list of search scopes when you click the Search charm which will rid you of the need to go through all of them one at a time. It will have one search box and a unified results list that has all of your apps, files, settings, and content from the web and Wikipedia apps.
  • You'll get a new touch keyboard with improved autosuggest, new gestures, and much easier functionality for putting in your own numbers & symbols without changing the keyboard layout.
  • The touch keyboard has an improved autosuggest capability and supports new gestures, making it easier to insert numbers and symbols without having to change the keyboard layout.
  • There will be no more manual updating for Windows Store apps. It will be done in the background as normal maintenance.
  • Updates for Windows Store apps will be applied automatically as part of Windows 8.1’s background maintenance process. That’s a significant shift from Windows 8, which requires manual updates to the new apps.
  • You get new snap "behaviors" for Metro-style apps. You can arrange up to 4 Windows 8 apps side by side, with variable widths. No more being stuck with 320-pixel snap widths. This will be a big help for the new Win8 tablets coming out this summer.
  • There will be a pile of new apps coming, and the existing ones will get updated. The XBOX Music app that everyone hates will get an overhaul, and more tools for the Photo app.
  • Synchronization between Skydrive and Windows 8.1 is coming, so you'll be able to sync between all of your cloud aps and folders.
  • You'll be able to bypass the start screen and go straight to your good ole desktop. Plus, you'll be able to sync the backgrounds between the Start screen and desktop so they look the same.
  • File Explorer will get a significant overhaul.

So there you have it! I think this should have happened from the jump, but it's better late than never. In the meantime, I'm sticking with Windows 7 and putting off turning my life upside down. In the words of Sweet Brown, "ain't nobody got time foh dat!"

Hats off to you, Microsoft. You're using your heads now. Change is good, and it's inevitable. But we're gonna need you to just slow it down a bit and work with us change-resistant people. Mkay??? Greeeaaat.

Carlton Flowers
Worry-Free Windows Watchman



The Final Word - Nokia Lumia 920 AT&T Smartphone CZ Review


My review of the Nokia Lumia 920 via AT&T Wireless has come to a close! It has been a great review period, and I have a lot of closing thoughts and comments about the flagship smartphone brought to you by the Nokia/Microsoft team.

Let's start off with the hardware. The phone itself is the most durable build of a smartphone that I have tested to date. iPhones are breakable, and many Android phones feel too "plasticy" (that's the new buzzword). But the composite build of the Nokia Lumia 920 makes it nearly indestructible, and it feels good ergonomic-wise in your hands.

Under the hood you get a dual core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor. That's enough to push apps, run tasks, and surf the net as fast and efficiently as anything on the market. I had no problems with lag, even while multitasking. The 1Gb of RAM also gets credit for its ability to crunch the data with ease.

The display is incredible. It's a lovely 4.5" PureMotion HD display that packs in a 1280x768 pixel density. It's rich and robust. And the animation that goes along with the navigation is breathtaking.

Even with the big brilliant display, I noticed that the battery life was excellent during the entire time of my test. Standby time just does not drain the battery at all. But even hitting it hard for most of the day, that battery was a champ.

Call quality is at or above what I would expect from a smartphone. Something that I really like that is just a little silly an nostalgic is how you get a solid tone when holding down a number button while "dialing".

Most smartphones only "blip" the dial tone once when you hold the button. But the Lumia 920 makes me feel like I've got an old school land line phone. I know that doesn't make a hill of beans difference with anything, but I think it's cool!

The camera sports the Carl Zeiss brand name with 8.7 megapixel resolution. I would agree with those who say this is one of the best quality cameras on a smartphone. Picture taking is quick and efficient, and you don't have to wait long for the shot to focus and flash to activate.

Video is spectacular. The quality is also of the best I have seen in a smartphone. Audio with the video is superior. I have yet to test the ability to do post editing, but I am very anxious to know if I will have the same issues I have with Android and iPhone devices with video syncing problems.

Flipping through apps and programs is so easy. Windows Phone 8 is just plain intuitive. Any rank ameteur could pick this thing up and become a pro in no time flat. Microsoft has created an operating system that is nothing like iOS and Android. This is a breath of fresh air.

New things like "Nokia City Lens" really capture my attention on this device. You can launch City Lens and just point the camera around out in space. It will show you, in real time, what restaurants and points of interest are actually in the direction you are facing. This is augmented reality at its best.

Even the simple little things like typing on the virtual keyboard make this a device a wonderful thing to operate. I can say without a doubt that the soft keyboard on the Nokia Lumia 920 is better than anything I have tried. Period. It is by far the easiest and most accurate layout for a smartphone keyboard, and nothing quite feels the same.

Social media integration is unique on this smartphone. Once you register all of your accounts from various social platforms, the phone will "report" messages on the home screen as if they are coming from one source. That means you can carry on a conversation with someone over text, Facebook messenger, and other services, but have each message on one single screen. This makes it easier to get straight to the act of communication, instead of flipping through multiple platforms or apps.

Something I wish I had spent more time playing with is Office 360 on the Lumia 920. Just taking a stroll through the sample documents and presentations on the device is enough to get excited about. Office integration makes the Lumia 920 a potentially seriously productive device, to say the least.

I'm taking the Nokia Lumia 920 seriously, and I think the writers who make claims of its demise obviously have not spent any quality time with this handset. I'll agree with the prognosticators who say that Nokia and Microsoft could own the top-selling smartphone by 2015.

First of all, this is the best device on the market for first time smartphone buyers, thanks to its simple and intuitive operating system. Second, it makes a perfect match for the gazillions of people using Microsoft Windows based PCs, and MS Office. Lastly, we're starting to see people switching from Apple iPhone devices to the Nokia Lumia, and that is something I thought I would never see.

Add it all up and the future of the Nokia Lumia 920 is strong. There's so much more to this phone that I won't delve into at this point, but I'll leave any fence-sitters with a strong "buy" recommendation for this device. If you're seriously considering it, take the plunge. You will probably be satisfied, especially with the latest contract price of $69.99 through Amazon.

What are your thoughts about the future of Microsoft/Nokia and their Lumia line? Will it make a significant dent in the market, or fade to oblivion? Share in the Disqus section if you will!

Carlton Flowers
Telephone Tester


The current price for the Nokia Lumia 920 through AT&T Wireless is only $69.99 for qualifying accounts at Amazon! Price not guaranteed to stay this low, so grab it while you can!

Why Nokia Lumia 920 Is Converting iPhone Users


Last winter, I met several serious iPhone users who made the switch from iOS to Windows Phone. I was very suprrised to see this happening, but it seemed to possibly be a fluke. Since the release of the Nokia Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8, I'm finding out that this is a slight trend, not a fluke.

iPhone owners tend to be the most brand-loyal users of any smartphone brand. That's why it stops me dead in my tracks wondering what is going on when I see a dyed-in-the-wool Apple fan making such a tremendous switch. And whey they do, they don't look back.

What could possibly be the cause for this to happen? It's quite simple, actually. After polling several new Lumia 920 owners, here's what I found out.

The first and most common reason mentioned by iPhone owners who made the switch is the simplicity of Windows Phone 8. For them, Microsoft's smartphone operating system environment is easier to pick up and function than iOS. They say that it is far more intuitive, and a break from endless icons and folders.

Another big reason former iPhone users made the switch is the Windows Phone 8 start screen and its live tiles. They say that the tiles show the user all the important things going on in their world without the need to dive into several different applications. They can customize the order of the tiles, and even the size and color to fit their needs.

According to the Live Tiles fans, they love the ability to monitor and respond to all social network conversations all from one single start screen for their favorite friends. The ability to even use apps like Skype to answer calls without opening the actual application is a huge plus, thus allowing them to stay on the home screen or within a certain running app they are working with.

The third and final most common benefit that I have heard from the Nokia Lumia 920 owners is the advanced features built into the camera that you don't get with an iPhone. The Carl Zeiss camera is said to have the best functionality, plus extra features like the ability to add filters similar to Instagram. Plus users can use pinch-to-zoom within the camera app, plus "Smart Zoom" which lets them take a pile of pictures and erase people or objects from the scene.

Keep in mind, this is not a significant trend. There will still be millions of iOS users that will never make the switch. But for the small minority of professionals that work in telecommunications stores that are making this switch, it is a tiny but significant trend that could spell possible success for the future of Windows Phone 8.

What is your opinion? Are you a former iPhone user that made the switch? What were your top reasons for changing over? Or is it possible that you are a Windows Phone user that switched to iOS? I'd love to hear your story!

Carlton Flowers
Phormer iPhone iPhan


Check out the Nokia Lumia 920 at Amazon Wireless and pick up a new handset for as low as $19.99 with a 2-year contract agreement through AT&T Wireless!


Is The Nokia Lumia 920 The Future Of Smartphones?


Folks, you might as well get this straight in your mind right now... Nokia and Microsoft will be putting a major dent in the smartphone market in the next year. Mark my words.

With the arrival of the Nokia Lumia 920 4G LTE smartphone, the wild smartphone frontier is going to change. I will make the bold prediction that all of the tech writers who slam Microsoft and Nokia are dead wrong. Here's why...

The Nokia Lumia 920 shocked me when I first held it in my hand. I had the opportunity to review the previous Lumia 900, and I was impressed. But the Lumia 920 has gone above and beyond the call of duty. This is by far the best new concept for a smartphone on the market today.

But the reason that this smartphone will conquer the market is not just due to the quality build and fantastic functionality. With an entry level contract price of $19.99 on contract, Microsoft and Nokia will cause serious heartburn with the competitors on the market introducing smartphones at the usual price of $199.99.

If you know me by now, you know that I'm a huge fan of Android and Samsung. I am a previous iPhone lover who made the switch to Android in 2011. I still currently own an Android device, the Samsung Galaxy S2. And I love this handset.

But after spending 10 minutes talking to an AT&T sales associate in Ohio, my mind has changed about the future of Nokia in the smartphone market. The rep who let me check out his sleek new Nokia 920 informed me that he is a recent iPhone convert. He loves his Lumia, and he doesn't plan to ever look back.

Why is the Nokia Lumia 920 turning out Android and Apple customers? It's due to the build of the phone, which is solidly the slickest and most aesthetically pleasing of all smartphones I've seen.

Additionally, it's the operating system. Microsoft has hit it big with Windows Phone 8. It's far more intuitive and impressive than Apple's iOS and also Android 4.0. The action of the live tiles makes it easy to access all of your social media content without jumping in and out of apps, plus it's easy to get to all of your utilities.

The Nokia Lumia 920 has a fantastic 4.5" PureMotion HD and ClearBlack display that blocks incoming light reflections through a polarized layer to improve screen visibility under direct sunlight. I've never seen anything like it. It's the perfect size, and a glorious visual wonder.

The camera on the Lumia 920 is quite possibly the best on the market. It's a Carl Zeiss brand 8Mp dual LED flash camera with a front facer for video chatting. The quality of the pictures taken with this camera is a force to be reckoned with.

I won't drone on about all the techy details of this phone, but it's just super fast and efficient. It's the right combination of cutting-edge combined with affordability. They've definitely hit a sweet spot. There's no lag in loading apps and jumping from one to another.

I have yet to test out this device, but you better believe a full CZ Blog review will be forthcoming when AT&T Wireless of St. Louis hooks me up with a test device. Stay tuned and watch out. And watch as this phone blows up the market over the next year.

When I recommend a smartphone to people who have never owned one in the past, I confidently tell them that a handset with the Windows Mobile 8 platform would be the easiest and best to get started with. There's no question.

Even though I am in neck-deep with Android at the moment, I don't know how long I will be able to hold out before making the switch to Windows Phone 8. Once I get to the point where 90% of the apps I need are available for Windows Phone, I'll probably be jumping ship.

You heard it first right here on the CZ Blog.

Carlton Flowers
Closet Windows Phone Phan


Check out the Nokia Lumia 920 at Amazon Wireless and pick up a new handset for as low as $19.99 with a 2-year contract agreement through AT&T Wireless!


Apple Slams Samsung While Google Sits On Their Can - My Controversial Thoughts


So Apple won the ridiculous lawsuit against Samsung, claiming they copied all of their products and operating system. This seems to be a big huge deal. Or is it? Who is the real winner here? Apple, Samsung, or the consumer?

On the face, it looks like the whiny Cupertino tech giant slammed the mighty bully who kept stealing their stuff. They get a billion dollars in damages, plus they now own the rights to rectangular electronic devices that have icons.

The result will be that Samsung might have to jack up their prices and pay a royalty fee to Apple, IF they let them continue using the designs that they now apparently own. But one thing I don't understand is why Google sat back on their fat cans and didn't say a word throughout this process.

Samsung is the biggest distributer of smartphones in the world of Android. Google could potentially be hurt if their number one customer, Samsung, cannot continue selling their phones at neck-breaking speeds. I would have thought that Google would be on top of this with their endless cadre of lawyers to help out their Korean brothers, but they did not.... as far as I know.

What does this mean to the consumer? You might be paying $10 more (or so) for your Samsung device so they can pay off the mob boss Apple. You might also see an operating system that doesn't look like iOS. But will the $1,000,000,000 fine really hurt Samsung? Probably not.

I was reading in PC Magazine where they were reminiscing about Microsoft buying Skype for $8,000,000,000. It sure didn't vault them to the top of the gadget pile with their smartphones. They also talked about the huge amount of cash that Google was paying to buy out Motorola.

So putting that into perspetive, $1,000,000,000 isn't really such a bad deal for getting to rip off the design and operating system of the iPhone and land yourself at the top of the pile in cell phone gadgets.

To be honest, the rotten Apple folks have a point. Yes, Android looks exactly like iOS. Rows of icons that you scroll around, on a nice rectangular screen, running apps that are basically identical. This shouldn't come as a surprise, however, because tons of design folks defected from Apple to work for Google.

What I don't get is what difference it will make for Apple. If they shut down Samsung (if their wildest dream came true), people like me still wouldn't buy their products. Why? Because I don't want a heavy, clunky, super fragile device that can't survive a drop 2' above the pavement.

Nor do I want a device that has sticking home buttons, jammed up power buttons, gummed up silent switches, and jacked-up volume buttons. Who needs all of that? I don't. I'm not going to buy an Apple brick phone if I don't have to. But I will eventually, because of my app development company CoMo Coding LLC, and our iOS apps that we are developing.

What do you think is going to happen to the lesser Android handset manufacturers that can't afford these battles? HTC, Haweieee (or however you spell it), Pantech, and LG all have iPhone look-alikes too. If Apple comes up against them now that they own the rights to rectangular touch screen gadgets, they could be toast.

I'm okay with paying an extra ten bucks to keep my Sammy smartphone fresh and new each year. But I would be the first to say that Samsung needs to get away from the fake-iOS-clone-looking Android operating system and do something different. It is possible.

Just look at the Microsoft Windows Phone Mango platform, for example... it looks nothing like iOS. Plus, it's FAR more intuitive and less maddening than the jam-200-icons-on-a-screen concept of iOS and Android.

Step it up, Samsung. You seriously won big by getting to the top of the heap riding the iOS copy bandwagon. Now put your heads together and get away from Apple before they lawsuit you to oblivion.

Just my rambling thoughts.

Carlton Flowers
Crabby Android Fan


The Windows 8 Shocker - I Didn't See This Coming


I hadn't thought one single minute about Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows 8, until I did a little bit of reading recently. Apparently, this new release will run on older computers, up to about 4 years in age.

Not only can you load Windows 8 on older computers, but it will also speed up your machine and make it run more efficiently. To ice the cake, the cost will only be $40 per license!

This is a pretty radical change in pricing strategy for Microsoft. Plus it's a whole new paradigm in the evolution of their operating system. While everyone has started to write them off as the dinosaur headed for extinction, they come up with a new OS that is completely different in design and not a memory resource hog.

The Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview page lists the minimum system requirements as the following:

  • a 1GHz CPU
  • 1Gb of RAM for 32-bit systems
  • 2Gb of RAM for 64-bit systems
  • Microsoft DirextX 9 graphics card with WDDM driver

That's really a basement level hardware requirement for running Windows 8. Computers as much as 4 or 5 years old could meet these hardware minimums. I know I have 2 or 3 computers just in my basement sitting and collecting dust that could run the new operating system.

This is a huge plus for people with older systems still running on Windows XP. But from what I am hearing, you can even download and install the new Windows 8 on a machine that does not have a legitimate version of Windows running on it.

This is a smart move on behalf of Microsoft. I imagine a significant amount of people will go legit and upgrade their computers due to the lowest price they have ever offered on a windows version since the days of Windows 3.1, plus considering how much of a jump this would be from an older version.

If you want to get the most out of Windows 8, here are a few things you might want to add to your current system:

  • a touch screen monitor to take advantage of Windows 8 mult-itouch
  • a multi-touch capable mouse
  • screen resolution of 1366x768 to snap apps
  • high speed internet access

You can also get a multi-touch capable tablet and run Windows 8. That's yet another major advantage. You would have the same operating system running on your tablet and your PC or laptop. I'm almost tempted to consider this instead of getting an Android tablet (which I already am not convinced would be a wise investment).

Stay tuned for more reports as I get my first computer loaded with Windows 8! It will be exciting!

Carlton Flowers
Breaking New Windows (haha)


Microsoft Surface RT Tablet for $199? SOLD!


Fresh rumors in the tech sector are circulating about the pricing of the Microsoft Surface RT tablet computer being introduced at the amazing bargain basement price of $199. Part of me wishes this rumor had credence. But could it possibly be based on a shred of truth?

Analyzing the facts, we would have to say no. We know that Microsoft will only have a limited number of Surface RT tablets available for retailers to sell when it first hits the market. And we also know by the law of supply and demand that if demand far outweighs supply, you don't get bargain basement prices.

I'm not so sure that Microsoft would be in the business of selling the Surface RT as a loss leader just to get people buying apps, somewhat like Amazon is doing with the Fire tablet. But if you consider the price of the XBOX 360 and Kinect and how much technology they employ, it might not be that far fetched.

Plus, Microsoft made the statement that the Surface RT would be "priced close to what similar ARM based tablets are being offered". Everyone assumed they were comparing "Apples" to Microsoft "oranges". In other words, drawing a comparison of the entry level Surface to the entry level iPad 2 at $399.

But tech writers are now talking about the possibility of the Surface RT being compared to the Kindle Fire or Google Nexus 7, both of which are ARM based devices but comning in at $199. This is a valid argument.

I don't want to get my hopes up just yet, but I'm praying that this is the case. If you took a Surface RT and stripped it down to the basics with no keyboard, case, or Microsoft Office package, it is possible that you could price it at $199. This could be a break-even point or even loss leader.

As slick as the new case and keyboard are, savvy buyers would likely opt for these things at the time of purchase or shortlly thereafter. And with the availability of the Office suite, it would be a sensible upgrade for business users or students. That would bring Microsoft plenty of profit if they do end up going with the $199 entry price point.

I'll be writing soon about the Google Nexus 7 and the rumored 2nd generation Kindle Fire as viable $199 tablet options. But I'll tell you right now, the Surface RT would trump both of them immediately for me. I would be the first to get one fo $199, and the keyboard purchase would come shortly thereafter.

What are your thoughts? Would you opt for a Nexus 7, 2nd Gen Kindle Fire, Surface RT, or a more expensive tablet like an iPad 2 or 3? Sound off in the comments!

Carlton Flowers
On the Surface of Buying


Blast From The Past - My Thoughts On Microsoft 1 Year Ago

Hi gang! As you might know, I switched blog host providers a couple of weeks ago. In the process, I lost my entire blog. I've decided to start from scratch. But in between my bright flashes of creativity, I'm going to post some of my old articles that I dig up on the Internet Archive's "Way Back Machine" and see how things have turned out since posting.

This is the first "Blast From The Past" post that I wrote on the topic of the Microsoft Corporation's slipping market dominance. I think I would disagree with this article now, especially since Microsoft has made a bold new aliance with the Nokia corporation. What are your thoughts? Post your comments below!

With no further adieu, here is the old post:


I just don’t get it… what is it with Microsoft these past few years? Microsoft and “monopoly” used to be one in the same in the days of Bill Gates. Sure, they still dominate the world market with some impressive financial numbers, but will they hold their position given their current philosophy and lackluster vision?

It seems to me that the giant in Redmond has become complacent. They have a whopping 88% of the world’s market share in desktop computers with their Windows operating system. Plus, the XBOX 360 has jumped ahead of Wii and PS3. Kinect was the hottest selling gaming gadget for Christmas 2010. But the end result is that Microsoft is resting on its laurels.

However, Apple surpassed Microsoft’s market capitalization in May of 2010 to become the world’s largest tech company. Sure, Apple’s current status as “king of the hill” is not guaranteed to last due to the fact that company value fluctuates wildly based purely upon stock price. But would anyone have imagined this to have happened just 10 years ago? No.

Once upon a time, everyone thought that Apple’s days were numbered before CEO Steve Jobs rejoined the company to bring them back into their glory. Apple was considered the yuppy alternative to computer systems and electronic devices when compared to the standard that Microsoft had set. Developers would never have guessed that their future would be in writing little apps for the revolutionary iPhone.

Now Microsoft has become a reactionary company under the somewhat “visionless” leadership of Steve Ballmer. They’ve handed over the title of “innovator” on a silver platter to Steve Jobs. Instead of keeping the lead role in breaking open new fertile markets and taking huge risks, they’ve sat on their laurels and rested on the security of their flagship products in known markets.

Let’s consider a few of the unproven markets that Apple took the extreme gamble on and led the way, with Microsoft responding late in the game:

The iPhone & iOS Smart Phone Platform

In 2007, Apple released the first generation iPhone. Where was Microsoft? Fooling around with Windows Mobile 6.5, a sad excuse for a mobile phone platform. 3 years passed by before they released the impressive and user-friendly Windows Phone 7 platform, which to me is more intuitive than the iOS operating system. But as great as Windows Phone 7 is, it’s entirely too late. They should have done this long before. The release did not make a big splash, and I don’t see it possible at this time for them to catch up and overtake Apple’s iOS. They missed the boat. Apple will dominate this market for years to come, no matter how good Windows Phone 7 gets, because iOS is in the “perfecting” stage while Phone 7 is in the elementary stages.

The iPod Touch

Yet again, Microsoft let Apple solidify their dominance with the groundbreaking iPod touch before they even thought about getting the Zune out to market to compete. How do you sit on your can and let the iPod touch snatch up the entire market when you created the standard with the Windows operating system? It’s too late for Zune, and the Zune HD will not be the device that wins back the hearts of consumers. They can forget it. The iPod touch is now the standard in portable gaming and music.

Internet Browsers

During the 90’s, Internet Explorer was the only choice when it came to browsers. Netscape was the old standard, but IE quickly erased their lead. Nowadays, Firefox has established the number one position. According to W3 Schools, they took the lead away from Microsoft during 2008. The trend continues for Firefox, and IE is still sliding losing market share and even has Chrome on its heels. I don’t know what the future holds for IE, but it’s not looking very good at this point in time.

The iPad & Tablet Market

Tablet computers aren’t really that new. The Apple Newton was one of the first, and it failed miserably. Microsoft had partnered with several hardware manufacturers to produce various tablets during the 2000’s that never took off. Apple took the huge gamble on releasing the iPad, and set the standard. They practically created the market, only to watch everyone else in the world scramble to make a late entry. Not a single tablet product threatens the iPad now. While there are noteworthy contenders in the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab, the iPad is clearly ahead of the game. Most companies are pushing their inaugural tablet products while Apple crushes the competition with their 2nd generation iPad.

During the time that the iPad was originally released, rumors swirled about the fabled Microsoft Courier. It was an entirely new concept that was in no way similar to the iPad. If they were going to enter the market late, at least they were going to do so with something totally outside of the box. The Courier was supposed to be a brand new concept mimicking a book with two 7″ displays hinged in the middle. The operating system was to be based upon the Microsoft Surface concept (something else that has stayed stuck in the developmental stages, never to be released as a consumer product).

The Courier turned out to be vaporware. Microsoft ditched the project. But why? As large as a company that Microsoft is, wouldn’t you think they’d have the research and development budget to push the project and get it out to market in a reasonable time? Sadly, they did not make the effort. They’ve been talking about releasing tablets for 2 years now, and just can’t come up with a workable tablet interface.

Now Microsoft is talking about showcasing future Windows 8 tablet concepts in June of 2011. What the heck is that all about? iPad 2 is on sale right now, and they are still talking about showcasing future products this summer? This is so sad it is shameful. In my opinion, they may as well throw in the towel and stick to pushing the XBOX 360 and Kinect products. If I were a major stockholder, I’d be asking for the heads of leadership. Somebody with real vision and and a proven track record of being proactive needs to take control of this company. This is the biggest disappointment of all in my opinion.

I could take this farther, but these are the areas where I see Microsoft hurting the most in the future. I think a serious leadership change is in order for Microsoft. If they don’t initiate some kind of major change in their glass tower, they’re going to be looking like Apple during the late 80’s.

Carlton Flowers
Disappointed Microsoft Fanboy