Friday, August 8, 2008

Why Microsoft should clone the iPhone

It’s time to face reality: Microsoft needs to stop what it’s doing and clone the iPhone.

After using the iPhone over the last year, I’ve come to realize that the iPhone and its browser (and now its 3rd party apps) are consuming more and more of my time. It’s even eating into my notebook/Tablet PC browse time. The iPhone model is winning.

Of course, I’m not really suggesting to clone the iPhone exactly. I’m just saying, that like with the original Mac, we’ve seen the future and what Microsoft has so far is not it. Time to bite the bullet and copy. They’re right; you’re wrong.

Here are some thoughts along these lines:

Dump IE. Don’t port it. We’re talking rewrite time. Safari is more appropriate although not ideal with its touch navigation and attempt at smart zooming. In addition, out of the box there ought to be live video, Flash, and Silverlight in the browser. These are musts.

There has to be live video support. Period. The built-in camera has to be top notch too. Done right, this isn’t going to be just a phone, it’s going to be the owner’s most used camera for most. Think simple. Don’t go overboard.

On the plus side:

Microsoft knows touch with all of its experiences with the Tablet PCs and UMPCs. It’s time to leverage this on a better, thinner iPhone like device.

I’m convinced Microsoft can make a better iPhone in part because it won’t try to do all on its own. There has to be an open and vibrant developer community, which is something Microsoft knows how to do much, much better than Apple.

Another huge advantage that Microsoft would have with an iPhone clone is that Microsoft can leverage its huge community base to give much better and richer feedback to minimize nasty bugs–which have plagued every iteration of the iPhone. Microsoft can do better here.

One bit of advice I’d give to Microsoft is to take every opportunity to improve the ease of use of the iPhone. For instance, if there’s public or known WIFI and poor cell phone coverage, the phone should transparently switch coverage. Dropped calls–especially when at home where you’re most likely to have WIFI–shouldn’t exist. Not on a good phone anyway. Whatever you add, it should be about improving ease of use, not simply blowing people away with coolness.

If Microsoft wants to differentiate more; one place to do so is with the built in apps. I’m not talking about scientific calculators here. I’m talking live weather radars, better traffic monitoring, flight tracking, and more. Make it a phone that people will use to make their lives better.

Oh, I’m sure Microsoft will also toss in a bunch of IT stuff too, but be cautious here. Don’t make things complicated for everyone else.

That’s it. Time to just do it.