Douwe Osinga's Blog: Another market bites the dust

Monday, January 10, 2005

Gadget lovers all over the planet me included have a good week, whether they are checking their favorites blogs every hour or in Nevada seeing the stuff with their own eyes: the CES in Las Vegas has it all from latest cell phone to portable media centers. One thing thing seems clear to me: there is new king or at least king-maker in gadget land.

Nokia ships most cell phones. Apple breaks all selling records with its iPod. Sony is still the king of the hill when it comes to game consoles and the cable companies don't have a thing on Tivo. Still, if you  look at what powers the competition of these princes of gadgets, it is an OS made in Redmont. Microsoft is taking this digital convergence seriously and it seems rather conceivable they'll win this multi-front war.

Take cell phones. My list of favorite cell phones is being overrun with Windows Mobile. I used to think my next cell phone would be either palm-based or Symbian, but now I'm not so sure. If you want wifi on a cell phone, plus a good camera, MS seems the only way to go right now. Nokia is still number one, but MS is playing catch-up and they're improving fast.

Same for iPod. Sure iPod outsells all competitors, but all competitors use Windows Mediaplayer DRM. And Tivo is the big guy, but all those entertainment centers that run Windows XP are powered by Microsoft. The Redmonians are going for second place on all fronts.

Here's the thing. With convergence, seconds place might just be enough. One reason I'm considering a windows cell phone, is that it will allow me to easily transfer music to my cell phone. Tivo is nice, but for now it won't let you play what you taped on a Nokia phone. Playstation games don't work on Tivo's. Etc. If Microsoft gets there DRM/Windows Media/Operating System on everything, then at some point people will probably prefer having the second rate stuff that is compatible then the market leaders that can't communicate with each other.

Of course the logical solution is for Apple, Nokia and Sony to work together. Symbian was supposed to be that, but that doesn't seem to develop a lot lately, so there isn't much hope here. Meanwhile, I'm lusting for a P50