You may have heard that Windows finally released a new mobile operating system called Windows Phone 7. There are of course many people discussing the phone. Some think it's awesome. Some don't. Despite all the differing opinions, there are two things that everyone seems to agree on:
- "Windows Phone 7" is a really really stupid name
- Microsoft is at a huge disadvantage because of how long it took them to get into the modern smarthphone market.
I won't talk about #1 because it's obvious, and you probably aren't interested in reading a rant. Instead I'll talk about #2. This point is really interesting. Everyone seems to agree that Microsoft is facing an uphill battle because the iPhone, Blackberry and Android have already been out for so long. This got me thinking, how far of a head start do these other companies really have?
According to Wikipedia, in 2002 Microsoft, Palm, and RIM (makers of the Blackberry) released their first smartphones. This marked the first generation of smartphones in America. These phones were big and clunky and they hardly resemble the phones we have today. Then in 2007 Apple launched the iPhone and Android came out in 2008. Those phones (along with newer models of Blackberries and the new Palm WebOS) mark the second generation of smartphones. Even though things have greatly improved since 2007, phones today still look and feel more or less the same.
Now let's review two of the things I've mentioned in the blog post. First, the first "modern" smartphones came out in 2007 and 2008. Second, Windows Phone 7 is at a major disadvantage because it's coming out so long after all the competition. That means that in about three years we've gone from not really knowing what a smartphone is to thinking that it's a mature market without much room for disruption.
Three years. If you weren't convinced that technology is moving faster than ever before, you should be now. Three years ago we thought touchscreen phones were a distant dream. Now we're laughing at Microsoft for not offering a phone that also streams music from the internet, integrates with Facebook, and acts as a GPS. Things are moving fast, and they aren't slowing down anytime soon.
So what does this mean for you? You're at risk of letting the tech world pass you by just like Microsoft did. This isn't the old world where you could get away with updating your software once every five years. If you don't stay on top of things, you may end up so far behind that you'll never fully catch up.
I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir. After all, what would you be doing reading this blog if you didn't already realize the importance of staying on top of new technology? But even those of us that are currently ahead of the curve could fall behind quickly. Let's use Microsoft's slow approach to smartphones as a lesson for ourselves. Are you subscribed to enough tech blogs? Do you try out new software regularly? I know it's a pain, but it's worth putting in the time.
The most successful businesses over the next decade will be the ones that are ready to evolve along with technology, and I hope that we can all be a part of that.