New stats suggest a renewed urgency for Microsoft to get mobile right

Microsoft has a pretty strong tablet offering in Windows 8, which explains why they already have nearly 6% market share, close to double that of Windows Phone.

New research however suggests that pursuing the tablet market is a wild goose chase, and that the smartphone market is in fact where Microsoft needs to focus most urgently.

Apple revenue

In an interesting analysis of why Apple’s tablet sales have become stagnant and then actually started decreasing, The Next Web postulates that tablets are merely a transition to a world dominated by smartphones.

They suggested that the meteoric rise of tablets are driven by older consumers used to a web-based world, for which the big screen of a tablet is ideal, but that younger consumers and therefore the world in general was moving towards an app-based world which is very well adapted to the small screen.

Share-of-time-spent-consuming-media-Mobile-Desktop_chartbuilder-1 reports that this year, for the first time ever, the amount of time Americans spend consuming media on mobile — smartphones and tablets — will exceed that of the desktop Internet, according to an eMarketer report released in April. Nearly a quarter (23.3 percent) of Americans’ daily media consumption will be on mobile in 2014, compared to 18 percent on desktop

The result is an increasing number of services designed just for mobile, with no desktop component, such as WhatsApp or Snapchat at present or Instagram before the web service appeared.  This results in a “virtuous” spiral of increasingly needing a smartphone to get anything done, and doing everything via a smartphone.

They expect the app-only trend to only increase with new moves to make app to app communication easier, such as Facebook’s new developer initiative.

The movement is primarily driven by the very young, who find a smartphone much more capable and personal/ private than a tablet or PC, and the work place still remains the bastion of the desktop.  However as this generation moves into the work force, clutching their smartphones, it is likely we will increasingly see workflow being designed around using these devices.

The major side effect of this is of course to lock out marginal platforms like Windows Phone and Windows 8, which may have previously been able to have access to a service via a universal web site, but which now needs a dedicated and costly app which may never be made.

The only way to prevent this lock-out is to rapidly build out a population of users too large to ignore, something which Windows Phone is struggling with. It is however unlikely that much help will come from Windows 8 desktop and tablets, as it seems that segment has already passed its peak.

Recent moves by Microsoft to make Windows free on small tablets and all phones shows Microsoft has come to realize the urgency, but it is clear Microsoft needs to do even more, to prevent being side-lined in what will in retrospect be seen as the biggest movement in personal computing since desktop computing in the 80’s.

What do our readers think Microsoft needs to do not to be left behind by history? Let us know below.