Microsoft: Forget iPhone, we're still number two in business

The big(ger) dog gets growly

SCMDM, which is Microsoft's competitor to Research In Motion's popular BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), offers 125 built-in policies and also lets IT managers create their own.

"This makes Windows Mobile phones first-class citizens on the network, as easily managed as desktop or laptop PCs," Rockfeld said. He took another shot at RIM, claiming that of the 325 companies buying Windows Mobile in large quantities, about a third of them also "decommissioned" a BES server at the same time.

While Windows Mobile may be growing, the same Gartner figures showed BlackBerry sales skyrocketing. ISVs who create software for both BlackBerry and Windows Mobile report the same thing.

"We've seen some uptick in Windows Mobile, but BlackBerry remains more popular by far," said Rob Woodbridge, CEO of Rove Mobile.

Microsoft's success has long relied on its strong partner ecosystems. Rockfeld was not shy about criticizing Apple's strategy for building an app ecosystem around the iPhone.

Apple's decision to limit the initial number of developers able to sell their wares through AppStore to just 4,000, is "not very open," Rockfeld said. "I'd hate to be the 4,001st developer in line who didn't meet some subjective bar Steve Jobs set."

Microsoft doesn't forbid anyone from developing for Windows Mobile, nor charge any royalties. It also has no plans to start selling Windows Mobile apps. "Once we become a retailer, then we'd have to become more closed," he said.

As a result, there were 500 mostly consumer apps available at the iPhone 3G's launch last week. In contrast, for Windows Mobile, there are more than 18,000 publicly-available applications, including the just-released Guitar Hero 3, and thousands more custom business apps, Rockfeld said.

"There are tons more Windows Mobile apps than iPhone," agreed Scott Gode, vice-president of marketing and product management for server management outsourcer, Azaleos Inc. "The true test will be to see 3-5 years from now."

Despite his criticism, Rockfeld didn't rule out Microsoft making software to run on the iPhone.

"Our Live Search team has a cross-platform strategy, so I can definitely assume that group is exploring the iPhone, though there are no announced plans yet," he said.

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