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Finger crossing won't lure iPhone coders to Windows Mobile

Microsoft's miscalculation compounded

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To attract enough iPhone developers to Windows Mobile to help juice its sagging influence, Microsoft needs not only to give them a better platform to code upon and overcome the lure of other platforms, it needs to insprire confidence that it's a vital, expanding company.

But it isn't.

Microsoft may still be the 800-pound gorilla of what used to be called "personal computing," but its influence is shrinking. Slowly, to be sure, but the trend lines are unmistakeable.

Global PC market share numbers are devilishly difficult to calculate. One moderately well-accepted source, for example, is Net Applications, which bases its calculations on browser usage. But even their numbers are soft, and vary according to the methododolgy they use.

Using their latest methodology, Country Level Weighting, Net Applications shows Windows to be drifting slowly downward, from 94.88 per cent last September to 93.04 this July. Mac OS X, on the other hand, is rising slowly upward, from 3.73 per cent to 4.86. Linux is rising as well, from 0.86 per cent to 1.05.

These numbers, by the way, are heavily influenced by emerging markets such as India, China, and Brazil. Windows has far more - and faster growing - competition in the US, for example.

Imperial destiny

Net Applications' market share numbers for browsers are arguably more reliable. And the news isn't good for Microsoft here, either. Internet Explorer usage has sunk from 74.18 per cent in September of last year to 67.68 this July. During the same period, Firefox rose from 19.07 per cent to 22.47, and Safari from 2.82 per cent to 4.07.

All empires grow, peak, and then decline. Windows 7 or no Windows 7, Microsoft is in phase three.

The days of the desktop are winding down. Content-creation and business productivity are moving to laptops, where Microsoft still retains a significant advantage. But content consumption and business communication are moving to smartphones, where it does not. And smartphones are becoming more powerful computing platforms with each silicon generation.

And Microsoft is behind the curve. How far? Well, last week their big news was that they were going to release an Objective-C wrapper that'd allow developers to easily slip Bing search results into apps. iPhone apps, that is. ®

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