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MS dreams big as IE 6 for Windows Mobile nears

Steve, don't do it!

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Admittedly, Sprint has declining market share and is the least popular of all the US carriers in terms of customer satisfaction - a challenging feat to achieve in a market where "fewest dropped calls" is considered something to shout about. Microsoft clearly felt it needed to trade up: Verizon has 65.7m customers and 43 per cent customer satisfaction.

Verizon does not equal success, though. As 24/7 Wall St pointed out, even a child can easily reset the default search function on a phone browser. That would render any such deal is a complete waste of time and money for Microsoft.

Such deals comes from the same school of thought that subscribes to the theory if you sign up prestigious partners, you get the users. It lead to Microsoft's deals in 2007 and 2008 with Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard to make its Live Search the default toolbar on certain brands of PC.

This is not the 1990s and Microsoft is not the only browser in town, though. Titanic deals do not work in an era when you've got choice.

Consumers are not fooled by such clutterware on their PC, as evidenced by the fact deals with Lenovo and HP have failed to move Microsoft's search market share. The same will be true of mobile, where there's even less space and processing power for clutterware and in a world where search as a concept is synonymous with Google.

Another hurdle? The fact, Windows - which IE is tied to - is a long long way behind the competition in the mobile market. Microsoft's Windows mobile phones had 13.6 per cent market share in the third quarter, compared to 15 per cent for RIM, 17.3 per cent for Apple and 46.6 per cent for Symbian/Nokia according to Canalys.

Misplaced Silverilght faith

Microsoft watchers out there might point to Silverlight for mobile as Microsoft's bridge into non-Windows platforms, bringing content to Symbian for example - and Nokia does have a deal with Microsoft on the S60. But too little is known about which other platforms or mobile browsers Silverlight will eventually support to really support this view.

Will we see Silverlight for RIM? Or Silverlight for the iPhone - Sun Microsystems and Adobe Systems both know what a roadblock Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs can be on the iPone.

Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer had a narrow escape this year on the Yahoo! acquisition. CEO Jarry Yang turned down Microsoft's offer of $33 a share just before the stock market tanked leaving Yahoo! at its current price of $11 a share. Had Steve got way, he'd now be the proud owner of a vastly over priced search, ads and email business.

If SteveO is determined to destroy his reputation, then blowing millions of dollars on an epic mobile search deal with Verizon that doesn't actually deliver users could be the way to do it. ®

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