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Apple iPhone 6

iPhone 6 is an apple, the Lumia 830 Windows Phone is an orange.

Microsoft is competing on price, services not exclusivity

With today’s iPhone announcements Apple confirms its dedication to consumers, advancing beyond what Microsoft’s Windows Phone has to offer them, but the news also leaves Windows Phone as arguably the better phone for businesses.

The new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus feature larger screens, thinner bodies and support for secure credit card transactions. It can tell whether you are cycling or running and whether you are climbing stairs, and has a new motion co-processor to help it do so. Great stuff but not what Microsoft is emphasizing.

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Rather than keep the world breathless for the announcement of the next top-end phones as Apple does, Microsoft is filling in its line with mid-range and low-end phones designed to grab the cost conscious consumer. The Lumia 830 launched last Thursday actually pulls back on the specs for the camera, screen size and processor vs. the high-end Lumia 1520 that launched last year.

What Microsoft does offer consistently, though, is support for Office, OneDrive cloud storage and the potential to tie the phone in to Office 365 subscriptions that make the phone another device business customers can use to do business.

The company updates its applications and services to better integrate with each other and deliver new capabilities. For example, it’s just started rolling out Delve, a machine-learning service that monitors activity in Office applications and learns what data and interactions are most important to individual users. It then presents the most relevant information to each user in response to queries.

That’s something the iPhone 6 can’t touch. Microsoft makes its new Office 365 capabilities available to iPhone users, but Apple doesn’t drive the innovation.

There is a certain class of customer that must have the latest iPhone, and there’s little Microsoft can or seems to care it wants to do about it. Microsoft isn’t trying to wrest iPhone customers away from Apple, it’s trying to lure them into using Microsoft services on whatever phone they happen to have, hence Microsoft’s support for Android phones as well. Instead it’s trying to vacuum up knowledgeable customers who think twice about what they shell out for a phone.

That includes potential customers in countries where smartphone use is just getting started and where Microsoft stands a better chance to make significant inroads. The U.S. smartphone market is a battle largely static between Android and iPhone with Windows Phone struggling to break 4% market share.

So the announcement of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus doesn’t spell the end of Windows Phone. It represents Apple’s continued consumer device innovation. And that’s quite different from Microsoft’s game of developing a phones that best show off its software innovation.

Here are some head-to-head comparisons between the latest iPhones and the latest Windows Phones form Microsoft that show the different focuses of the two companies:

Price: Lumia 830 = $433 with no contract; iPhone 6 = starts at $199 with a two-year contract; iPhone 6 Plus = starts at $299 with a two-year contract.

Screen size: Lumia 830 = 5-inch; iPhone 6 = 4.7-inch; iPhone 6 Plus = 5.5-inch

Thickness: Lumia 830 = .33 inches; iPhone 6 = .27 inches; iPhone 6 Plus = .279 inches

Weight: Lumia 830 = 5.29 ounces; iPhone 6 = 3.99 ounces; iPhone 6 = iPhone 6 Plus = N/A

Processor: Lumia 830 = Snapdragon 400 quadcore; iPhone 6 = Apple A8; iPhone 6 Plus = Apple A8

Screen resolution: Lumia 830 = 1280 x 720; iPhone 6 = 750 by 1334; iPhone 6 Plus =1920 x 1080

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

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