Microsoft could be an irrelevant force in the mobile market in just 4 years, says Gartner

It looks like Gartner has whipped out its crystal ball and is back with another prediction, this time that Microsoft could become irrelevant in the consumer OS market as early as 2017.

According to Gartner’s Carolina Milanesi, more and more folks are moving to tablets as their main computing devices, and this is true regardless of where you are in the globe. Most users are either turning to Apple or Android, with Android continuing to expand rapidly largely due to its cost-effectiveness compared to other alternatives.

Android will get sales volumes “that are three times those of Windows” in the future, says Milanesi, unless Microsoft can find a way to successfully capture the interests of emerging markets.

By 2017, Android shipments will be higher than any other OS on the market, and in 2015 tablets will outsell traditional notebooks and desktops. “Winning the tablet and phone space is critical for Microsoft to remain relevant in this shift”, she further asserts.

Now before you bring out the pitchfork and torch, let’s remember the analyst is NOT saying that Microsoft is doomed to fail, merely that if they can’t do something to capture the interest of the tablet market (especially in the emerging markets), then they will continue to fall behind and no longer be a major player in the consumer PC devices market.

This isn’t saying that Microsoft won’t still be king of the enterprise world, and of course Microsoft still has its Xbox gaming endeavors to fall back on. The point is simply that Microsoft needs to push forward, and quick.

Does the analyst have a point?

Yes, she certainly does. Microsoft has yet to capture the mobile market in any meaningful way, though in the phone market, Windows Phone 8 is certainly doing better than Windows Phone 7. This doesn’t mean Microsoft is going to fail, I think the opposite will happen.

The bigger point is that the mobile market really is that significant to Microsoft’s future plans, and obviously Microsoft isn’t arguing that point!

The company has risked totally alienating some power users with Windows 8, and why? Because they don’t want Gartner’s bleak prediction to come true. They have further pushed the envelope with Windows Blue and are continuing to make the idea of Windows tablets more appealing.

Microsoft shouldn’t be worried, Gartner’s prediction won’t happen. It is a valid point that Microsoft needs to make a dent in the mobile world, but honestly Milanesi is overlooking the fact that Microsoft has already made big strides into the mobile arena with Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 just by changing the way Windows works (the new Modern UI, and switching to NT for Windows Phone).

The long-term strategy is there, and Microsoft IS paying attention, even if the critics and analysts refuse to see it.

As for the emerging market? The answer is in low-cost tablets. Microsoft has expressed that they are interested in 7-inch and 8-inch tablets in the not-too-distant future, and if they play their cards right, they could use these devices to build a bigger presence in the emerging market’s tablet sector.

Summing it up….

Bottom-line, Microsoft is going through a rough period. So did Apple, once upon a time. What changed was that they totally transformed the way the company did things in the very late-90s and used that change to bring about a new Apple empire.

Microsoft has laid the groundwork, now they just need to play their cards right and watch it all unfold. Do you agree with Gartner’s bleak prediction or do you think Microsoft has already taken the proper steps to ensure that they do play an integral part in the future of the mobile market? Share your thoughts below.

[ source ]

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