Robbie Bach: “We’ve been … too focused on how many devices we could have and not focused enough … (on) the base quality of those devices …”

Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division, spoke to Financial Post today about Microsoft’s X-box, Zune and Windows Mobile business.

Speaking about Microsoft’s relationship with Windows Mobile OEMs and the amount of input Microsoft had in quality control of Windows Mobile smartphones, he said:

A You have a dichotomy: choice versus control. When you go out and look at the wall of PCs, part of what makes that wall of PCs is that the [manufacturers] have the freedom to create what they want to create and that choice is tremendously valuable to consumers. The reason it works in the PC space is because early on we did choose to exercise some management of what makes a PC, and there are standards that were developed – largely by us – but with some other people, and so Windows 7 works great on lots of devices. I will tell you if there’s a place where we haven’t done as good work is in the mobile space. We’ve been, in a way, too focused on how many devices we could have and not focused enough on making sure that the base quality of those devices is very strong. So one of the things we are working on with our [manufacturing] partners is ensuring that those experiences are consistent and work great and that the base line that you start with is always rock solid.

Speaking to the Zune part of the business, he once again denied Microsoft was making a Zune phone, but said it was clearly inevitable that the technology would make its way into a phone itself.

But it’s very clear that the portable music and video marketplace will end up being part of the phone. So that creates a new opportunity for everyone to introduce those things into phones, and the thing that has held it back has been battery life. And that’s changing. Screen resolution has also been holding it back a bit and technology is catching up on all those things. Zune HD isn’t that far away from being a phone and no, we’re not doing a phone, so please don’t start those rumours. But from a technology perspective, it’s not far away.

From other rumours we already understand future Windows Mobile 7 devices will have a lot more rigorous quality control and we would certainly be very surprised to see the new OS ship without Zune Marketplace integration.

Read the full interview at Financial Post here.

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