"This mobile platform consisting of data-intensive applications, compelling preloaded Google apps, fast un-tethered browsing and long battery life is game changing because it captures customers and increases the amount of mobile data intensive application time displaced from PCs (including Macs)," he writes.
Nokia did emphasize hardware features to differentiate its second-generation Lumia phones: new display technology that minimizes motion blurring and boosts brightness in sunlight, wireless recharging based on the Qi standard; and on the higher-end phone, a greatly improved camera and more powerful battery. But what makes the camera effective is the way it leverages both new editing features in Windows Phone 8, along with new third-party apps, and the accompanying free 7GB storage account on Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud storage service.
Nokia is currently the leading Windows Phone vendor in the U.S., but that's not actually saying much, as one analyst notes. "Despite recent gains, Windows Phone is not yet performing to Ovum's expectations," says Tony Cripps, principal analyst, devices and platforms, Ovum, a technology market research firm.
Cripps has a novel thesis about why. "This is, at least, partially as a consequence of the strength of the opposition [iOS and Android], but partly, we think, as a deliberate move by Microsoft and its hardware partners to avoid flooding the market too quickly with the platform before they are in a position to play up its synergies with other Microsoft products, especially Windows 8 for PCs and tablets [due out this fall], and its business applications," he says. "The clear benefits to businesses from the ready integration possible across Microsoft's products set will set a benchmark for BYOD strategies focused on out-of-box device capabilities once Microsoft's full range of new platforms is available."
But what this integration will entail, or what synergies it will achieve (or at least promise), and in what time frame, all remain mysterious in light of Microsoft's continuing silence about its priorities for the mobile enterprise.
Ovum's chief telecoms analysts, Jan Dawson, argues that by extending the distinctive, "Metro" user interface of Windows Phone into Windows 8 on tablets and notebooks, Microsoft paradoxically will make Windows Phone more familiar to a much larger audience. Another synergy is the now-shared kernel in Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. That means "developers can develop for PCs, tablets and smartphones in a unified way, which should help developers get on board with Windows Phone, and that in turn should make the platform more attractive," Dawson says.
That's a view echoed in a blog post by VentureBeat's Devindra Hardawar, who argues that with the advent of Windows 8, Windows Phone "will no longer feel like an outlier among Microsoft's products. Windows 8 finally wraps up everything Microsoft is doing -- desktops, smartphones, tablets, and even the Xbox's new interface into one cohesive computing experience."
Windows 8 is what will "truly differentiate Windows Phone for the upcoming year," he says. "That's important, because the [mobile] platform has suffered from being only slightly more convenient and prettier than its competitors. If Microsoft can market Windows Phone 8 as an extension of Windows 8, it could finally make consumers pay attention."
As Hardawar points out, that's not something that Google or even Apple, which has been importing the look and feel of iOS into its desktop/notebook Mac operating system, can offer, or at least offer in quite the same way.
The new phones show that mobile devices are less like personal computers and more like personalized service endpoints that smoothly and efficiently interconnect with a growing range of back-end services, either on the Web, in various clouds, or behind the firewall of the enterprise.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
Blog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed
Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.