Microsoft regroups for mobile battle against Apple, Google

Insiders say company is shaking up its devices division after killing its tablet project

Microsoft still rules the desktop roost, but in the increasingly critical mobile phone market, Redmond lags far behind the likes of Google and Apple. Thus, it may not come as too much of a surprise that Microsoft is planning to reorganize parts of its devices division this week, according to reports.

Moreover, the group's CEO and CTO J Allard is expected to leave the company, according to various sources, in response to Microsoft's decision to nix its much-anticipated Courier tablet computer. Perhaps Apple set the tablet bar too high with its iPad, forcing Microsoft to regroup?

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Microsoft's tablet woes don't end with Apple. First off, the company will also have to contend with a forthcoming tablet from Verizon and Google. Additionally, there's been speculation that HP is putting the kibosh on its Slate tablet running Windows 7 in favor of one running WebOS -- which HP acquired with its purchase of Palm.

It's still conceivable that HP will roll out both a Windows tablet and a WebOS tablet, but it's tough to imagine Windows 7 in general being able to hack it in the tablet form factor against lightweight platforms with likely superior touchscreen capabilities.

In addition to stumbling in the tablet space, Microsoft has fallen far behind in the smartphone market: Windows Mobile pales in comparison to the slicker iPhone and Android operating system, both boasting, again, touchscreen as well as the popular, well-populated app stores.

According to the Wall Street Journal, citing figures from Gartner, worldwide shipments of handsets running Windows dropped from 10.2 percent to 6.8 percent in Q1, while Android's market share soared from 1.6 percent to 9.6 percent and iPhone shipments rose from 10.5 percent to 15.4 percent.

Microsoft's mobile hopes now rest in the success of Windows Phone 7, expected to ship on handsets in time for the holiday season. Thus far, the platform looks promising, offering more than Apple's mobile platform and the me-too variation from Google and Palm.

This article, "Microsoft regroups for mobile battle against Apple, Google," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

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