A brief history of Microsoft not outselling RIM

Last week The Verge posted an article arguing that Microsoft was in position to over take RIM in the smart phone market. This article in particular is rather silly (at one point saying that Microsoft has an early lead while pointing to a chart where it was clearly not in the lead), but it represents a long line of predictions to this effect. Analysts have been predicting Microsoft to surpass RIM in the phone market for a decade now, with it yet to happen.

Microsoft entrances the Market

From Microsoft’s start in the mobile market in late 2001 it was already behind RIM, but at the time it didn’t seem to matter as it was a small market that was an undefined mix of PDA’s, pagers, and phones. At the time there seemed to be little doubt that Microsoft could push out the tiny company from Ontario if they wished to.

A CNN article in 2004 was largely bullish on RIM, but warned that “some observers believe that RIM’s proprietary model is doomed” and warns of growing competition from Microsoft, HP, and Dell. Yet, Microsoft did not outsell RIM.

Microsoft partners with Palm

Having the Palm Treo run on Windows Mobile, was a major accomplishment from Microsoft. It was believed that the combined effort of these two companies would be enough to outsell BlackBerry. Except that they didn’t.

Push email on Exchange servers

In 2006 Microsoft announced that they would natively support push email from Exchange, which many saw as BlackBerry’s only advantage of RIM. Still Microsoft did not out sell RIM.

iPhone validates Microsoft’s touch screen advantage

In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone which brought touch screens to the forefront. At the time, RIM was still a year away from shipping their first touch screen phone, while Microsoft already had touch screen devices on the market. Of course, most Windows Mobile devices at the time also came with a stylus.

Microsoft release the Kin

Nobody expected this to help Microsoft catch up to BlackBerry, and this time they were right.

Windows Phone 7 is totally new

Ditching the old Windows Mobile platform is one of the best ideas that Microsoft has made. However, expectations that it would help Microsoft out sell RIM has proven to be unfounded.

Mango update will contain business features

Expectations that this would lead to Windows Phone outselling BlackBerry, proved untrue as most BlackBerry users are consumers anyhow.

Microsoft-Nokia partnership will surpass RIM

While the Nokia partnership has given Microsoft a base to work on, it isn’t translating into sales. This past quarter RIM has continued to outsell Windows Phone, despite having older devices that are running a much older OS.

Windows 8 will allow Microsoft to leverage their PC base


I actually like Windows Phone, and Windows 8 is looking to be very promising. Additionally, Microsoft will have three months (and a Christmas shopping season) to gain an early advantage before BlackBerry10 is released. So maybe this time will be different, and Microsoft will finally outsell BlackBerry. But forgive me if I am still a bit skeptical.