Mike Masnick @ The Feature
Can DoCoMo Say No To Microsoft?

NTT DoCoMo made a splash by announcing a new common platform for its 3G FOMA offering that only works on Symbian and Linux phones. The lack of Microsoft isn't just a timing issue -- DoCoMo purposely shunned the software giant. Will they be able to keep it up?

It really is hard to say no to Microsoft. Most people will say you're being arrogant, stupid or insane. Many of my friends think that Microsoft will eventually take over mobile devices too, but it's nice to see that DoCoMo can afford to say "no"... for now.

6 Comments

Unlike the battle between Palm and PocketPC, in this battle MS is faces with much stronger competition (Nokia, SonyEricsson, Motorola etc) who are cooperating to develop Symbian, SUN with J2ME and others). Personally, I would hate to see MS take over the mobile phone business. Also, I think that users are becoming more "religious" about their Mobile brand which becomes more a fashion statement than a tech device.

Cheers
Rafi

It's sad with the kinds of processing power, storage, camera optics and memory that DoCoMo phones have that the platform is so closed and limited to doing anything other than what DoCoMo intended. For example, the Java runtime on the phone is often limited to something like a 16k or 64k maximum size and has no access to the camera, SD card, or even the phone earpiece/mic. It means that the only thing you can write are games and other graphical time killers. (the only exception I can think of is the cool helly kitty remote control app available for the SH505is)


The legacy of DOS/Windows was that it was easy for most anyone to develop an application that could take advantage of any part of the PC. Of course this kind of freedom meant crashes, sketchy security and a lack of polish like Apple's had but it has meant having more capabilities and opportunities for coming up with something compelling.


It seems chic to criticize microsoft platforms for being 'closed' while it's ironic the kind of control that DoCoMo and other wireless providers are promoting. They're the opposite of the Internet's 'dumb' network and the world is worse off for it. They control everything you can do while nickel and diming you for every bit sent. They lock your phone's sim-card unnecessarily, force you to go to their stores when switching handsets purchased second hand, etc. Even if they're building on top of linux, the development community does not reap the benefits.


Here's hoping that some rogue manufacturer (hello china!)develops a cool phone that can emulate some major japanese or other phones so that we can run them on the DoCoMo or another closed network but build cool and breakthrough apps for them. And if Microsoft's willing to give that manufacturer an OS that developers can build on top of easily, more power to them. (disclaimer: i have financial ties to MSFT)

Another note, when you talk to the big mobile operators about services other than voice, surprisingly (or not) they mention MS as a competitor. This actually goes to the most basic struggle mobile operators have - to avoid becoming a wireless ISP. MSN (and AOL, BTW) are considered a competition because they are/can offer similar services to those offered by the mobile operators, thus pushing the operators to the wireless ISP corner (just look at the war Club Nokia had in Europe).

Furthermore, we (tech geeks) tend to think that we represent the average user - unfortunately we don't. Most users don't care about downloading software into their phone (other than maybe Java games) or developing applications for the phones.

IMHO, DoCoMo is looking at a broader picture than merely Phone OS - they don't want to promote potentially competing services (i.e. MSN).

/Rafi

Rafi, You're right that of course DoCoMo is looking at the bigger picture, they're not silly, but (1) they can only stop the other modalities of competition by stopping competition, and that can only be within Japan, and (2) they don't win by saying that the competition is incompetent as they have openly repeated about Microsoft. Walter

Chris wrote @2:
It's sad with the kinds of processing power, storage, camera optics and memory that DoCoMo phones have that the platform is so closed and limited to doing anything other than what DoCoMo intended. For example, the Java runtime on the phone is often limited to something like a 16k or 64k maximum size and has no access to the camera, SD card, or even the phone earpiece/mic.
Well, considering that credit card phishing scams n the Internet are netting in excess of a billion (!) dollars per year, or given the average user's inability to properly secure his Windows PC (transforming it into spamming zombies or autodialers calling premium numbers), I doubt the average phone user cares about, or would be able to properly understand the various security implications of opening up access to a phone's microphone, radio unit, stored files or camera to some app downloaded from the Internet... "Spyware" redefined ;-) Anyway, a phone, unlike a PC, is still considered to be a fairly trusted device...
The legacy of DOS/Windows was that it was easy for most anyone to develop an application that could take advantage of any part of the PC. Of course this kind of freedom meant crashes, sketchy security and a lack of polish like Apple's had but it has meant having more capabilities and opportunities for coming up with something compelling.
I submit that most people expect a phone that works better than Windows on their PCs. Besides, what is so "compelling" about the apps available on the Windows platform anyway ?
It seems chic to criticize microsoft platforms for being 'closed' while it's ironic the kind of control that DoCoMo and other wireless providers are promoting. They're the opposite of the Internet's 'dumb' network and the world is worse off for it. They control everything you can do while nickel and diming you for every bit sent.
Yup. Greedy GSM and 3G networks. Sending or receiving data packets shouldn't cost anything to the user, so that websites can surreptitiously push "creative" Java apps weighing several hundred KBs down the throat of unsuspecting mobile users who, as we all know, have bandwidths comparable to optical fiber or fixed-line DSL connections...
They lock your phone's sim-card unnecessarily, force you to go to their stores when switching handsets purchased second hand, etc. Even if they're building on top of linux, the development community does not reap the benefits.
These bastard handset manufacturers. Colluding with the network operators to make it impossible to buy unlocked GSM or 3G handsets. I wouldn't want to live in your world ;-)
Here's hoping that some rogue manufacturer (hello china!)develops a cool phone that can emulate some major japanese or other phones so that we can run them on the DoCoMo or another closed network.
Well, I understand that some people are using off-the-shelf unlocked Nokia 3G phones bought e.g. in Europe on Docomo's or Vodafone Japan's "closed" [sic] 3G network, either roaming (!) with their foreign 2G SIM or 3G USIM, or using a Docomo or Vodafone Japan 3G USIM...
And if Microsoft's willing to give that manufacturer an OS that developers can build on top of easily, more power to them. (disclaimer: i have financial ties to MSFT)
Gosh. You really seem to believe that Microsoft's products are reliable enough. I don't think, however, that the, um, interesting views you have articulated on the mobile phone industry will meaningfully influence some key industry players' platform choices :-)

Rafi, You're right that of course DoCoMo is looking at the bigger picture, they're not silly, but (1) they can only stop the other modalities of competition by stopping competition, and that can only be within Japan, and (2) they don't win by saying that the competition is incompetent as they have openly repeated about Microsoft. Walter

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