Steve Ballmer: Google Android "just some words on paper". You can say the same about Windows Mobile 7 today.

Ballmer may have downplayed Google Android back when announced in 2007, but Windows Mobile 7 isn't any more than words on paper still today.

Google Android is winning over customers, whether Microsoft's Steve Ballmer wants to admit it or not. In a Tokyo press conference in 2007, Ballmer referred to Google's upcoming Android OS as "just some words on paper right now" and "right now they have a press release -- we have many, many millions of customers…".

But the question in the mobile market isn't how many customers you currently have, it's how many customers are buying new phones running your OS. Mobile phones don't bring in more revenues through upgrades, like desktops and laptops do. New and replacement phone purchases are the equivalent of desktop OS upgrades, and this is where Microsoft continues to be most vulnerable to Android and iPhone SmartPhones.

Rumors have been flying that Apple may replace Google with Bing as the default search engine on the iPhone. That would be an interesting mix of competitive foes joining together to take on Google. Apple clearly sees Google and Google Android as a significant threat, with CEO Eric Schmidt's departure from the Apple board and also denying some apps Google submitted for the iPhone.

I don't have an Android phone though I've given the Droid and T-Mobile's Android phone a test drive in the store. That never really gives me a very good idea of how useful a phone will be -- you really have to use it a while in every day life to know if you'll love it, like it or wish you'd bought something else.

A friend of mine, Doug, sat down at a Starbuck's table with me this morning, totally stoked about his new Motorola Droid phone. Verizon offered him a 30 day trial phone and he went back the 2nd day of the trial to purchase the Droid. He immediately began to dig into Android's APIs and toy with app ideas. That's somebody who's sold on the Droid for you. Doug's a pretty savvy tech friend so I take his opinion of the Droid seriously.

Ballmer referred to the "openness and broad support" of Windows Mobile back in 2007 but while it may have been a widely used mobile OS, Windows Mobile's heyday has passed. Windows Mobile desperately needs a serious boost from the long hoped for Windows Mobile 7 to keep up with the growth of the iPhone, Android and Symbian mobile OSs. The market isn't waiting for Microsoft to get its Windows Mobile act together. SmartPhone makers are moving forward with Android, applications and app stores, and the iPhone OS has paved the way for Apple to introduce what many expect will be a successful table device.

I wonder if 2010 will be the year we finally see Windows Mobile 7, meaning WM7 phones may not be here until late 2010 or sometime in 2011. By then the market will have marched on with Android phones gaining a significant presence in the market, Apple launching it's much anticipated iSlate tablet, and Symbian continuing enable more and more Linux-based phones in the market. It's unclear if and how Microsoft will recover in the mobile market.

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