Microsoft should make haste, Delaney urged, because its window of opportunity won't remain open forever. Two years ago, 45% of the European enterprise workforce had a smartphone, but in the most recent IDC survey, that number had climbed to 56%. "That means the greenfield opportunity for Windows smartphones in Europe is smaller by at least one-fifth now than it was two years ago," Delaney wrote in his analysis.
But he remained convinced that Microsoft could still make a smartphone play for business users, especially with lower-priced devices -- in the $150 and lower range -- for those workers not yet bringing a phone to work, for work.
Windows-centric shops looking for compatibility with existing applications, and the increasing number of firms shifting from the BYOD (bring-your-own-device) model toward a stance where the company decides what workers use, may still consider a Windows-powered smartphone, Delaney said.
"The advantage of Windows is that it is available in a more uniform platform across all device types," he said, citing Windows as -- like iOS -- un-fragmented, and more secure than Android. "Microsoft's sweet spot is this ability to offer enterprises a combination of a consistent platform with low-end devices in terms of price."
Although Delaney declined to predict Microsoft's chances of pulling off this latest change in direction, he was certain that time is of the essence because of the Redmond, Wash. company's past practice. "Having finally grasped the nettle, it's imperative that Microsoft moves quickly to make the most of the opportunity that remains," Delaney wrote.
"Better late than never," he said.
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