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Microsoft to feed the starving nations...with phones

Microsoft wants to bring an enriched mobile experience to the developing world. Microsoft has been doing little of interest in mobile for years, but has talked about it even less. This is a chance for Microsoft to innovate. Whether it will is, of cours

Microsoft's Craig Mundie sees a way for the software giant to shift its largesse to the developing world. It's called the phone, and will challenge Microsoft's desktop-centric view of the world in its attempts to grow beyond its Western roots.

Interestingly, Microsoft is actually innovating here. Truly innovating:

Microsoft will increase its focus on making mobile phones part of its strategy to spread IT to people in developing nations, based partly on a prototype already developed for the purpose called Fone+....

The idea is to connect a low-to-mid-end smartphone based on the Windows Mobile OS to a TV via a docking station so data on the handset can be displayed on the TV screen. That way, people can use the computing power in the smartphone on a big screen.

Back in 2003, I looked at buying the intellectual property for Hancom Office's embedded Linux-based competitor to Microsoft Office to kickstart this market. A friend and I couldn't get venture funding for it, but that isn't a problem that plagues Microsoft. Cash is in abundance in Redmond. It has the resources to do this right.

This is actually a very shrewd move by Microsoft. To extend its dominance into developing nations, it can continue to try to foist the desktop metaphor to a world without desktops, or it can focus on what developing nations have in increasing amounts: Phones.

Sun has been talking about mobile for years, but seemingly does little there. Microsoft has been doing little of interest in mobile for years, but has talked about it even less. This is a chance for Microsoft to innovate. Whether it will is, of course, another story, but there really is no one to copy here so any progress in mobile will have to be innovative.