Microsoft announces media services like Apple

I just heard a news that MS announced some software/service much like iTunes and mobileme from Apple. All I can say is, it’s about time. Would it be the killer app they need? Let’s explore the details, little that is known at this time.

Apparently, they are announcing three products, according to neowin.net.

“SkyBox” is a service for users to sync a phones information with the web. Microsoft will be offering automatic backup and restore services, access and management of phone data and provide easy communication and sharing with others. The service will also allow syncing of contacts, email/SMS, calendar items and pictures into the cloud, similar to Apple’s MobileMe. The difference from Apple’s offering is Microsoft could be set to offer this out to non Windows Mobile devices.

“SkyLine” will be aimed at small businesses. Offering similar functionality to SkyBox, businesses will be able to setup their phones with Microsoft’s Exchange hosting with their own domain names.

“SkyMarket” was originally discovered in September 2008 when Microsoft advertised several external job positions. SkyMarket is the codename for Microsoft’s mobile marketplace, a competitor to Apple’s AppStore and RIM’s Blackberry application center. This service will only be available on Windows Mobile devices and will showcase the 1000s of Windows Mobile applications available today.

One of the main reasons why Apple dominated the MP3 player market was the eco-system they created around the player. They had the iTunes software, which allowed them to sync up the music by just plugging in the device. Also, they had the iTunes store, which allowed users to purchase legal music, very affordably. Then they moved to movies, TV shows, eBooks, etc. Then they allowed the iPhones to the same eco-system with applications. They even have brick and mortar stores, where consumers can touch the product in person. All this while making the entire process very intuitive and easy.

MS did not have that option. When they announced Zune, they were competing against Apple with just the device. They couldn’t get in to the market of selling music because that put them directly in competition with some of their customers nor that was in their business strength. They didn’t create an easy to use eco-system that appealed to users, which left their music device, along with other competitors like Creative behind iPods.

What they want to do now is to follow Apple and Google with services that mimics what they have done already so their Windows Mobile software can be saved. Will this work?

I don’t think it will work as well as they think it will work. Apple already has created a complete eco-system that no one can rival at this time. If MS wants to compete, they will have to steps beyond what they announced to be successful. They need to commit to both music and application for the smart phones. They have to create a complete solution, including software, online store for contents, updates to the Windows Mobile (in a single version), brick and mortar stores for customers, etc.

This will be difficult to MS. For example, each customer has their own version of Windows Mobile version so MS can not have complete control of the distribution of the OS. They don’t have a contract to bypass the Telcos on application downloads and I don’t think AT&T will let MS bypass them. If they provide complete solutions, they may end up competing directly with some of their big customers.

I will have to wait to see what would happen since I don’t have all the details but unless they do it right, it’s waste of time and money and they will be known again as a company who couldn’t compete against Apple.

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