An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...
Shocker: Windows Phone Rebounds, Stops Losing Share
Although Windows Phone is clearly the most usable and innovative smartphone platform on the planet, it's done little to stop the decline of Microsoft's mobile OS market share numbers in the past year. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which are wireless store employees who actively downplay Windows Phone to sell more Android devices, but whatever: A fact's a fact. The good news is, however, that Windows Phone's fortunes appear to be changing. The most recent smartphone market share report from comScore shows that Windows Phone controlled 5.7 percent of the US smartphone market for the three-month period ending in August, even with the three months before that. Previously, Windows Phone had been losing share. Hopefully, the recent release of Windows Phone 7.5 and a coming generation of new hardware will start the upward curve: If any of these platforms deserves a better fate, it's Windows Phone.
Report: EU Set to OK Microsoft Deal for Skype
A report in The Financial Times, quoting unnamed sources, says that Microsoft is set to win the approval of antitrust regulators in Brussels for its planned $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype. The approval will come without qualifications, meaning that the European Union (EU) won't ask Microsoft to provide any remedies of any kind. If true, this follows a June approval from the US-based Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and could lead to a go-ahead for the semi-controversial transaction. Sounds good to me.
Should Microsoft Bid for Yahoo!?
Microsoft Is Reportedly Looking at Yahoo! Again. Wait, No It's Not.
A spurious report this week suggested that Microsoft was once again considering a bid for Yahoo!, and just that little bit of silliness was enough to send Yahoo!'s shares surging 10 percent. Too bad it's not true, and even Yahoo! doesn't consider Microsoft a serious bidder for the company. Why? Because the software giant hasn't contacted Yahoo! even informally to discuss such a thing. But seriously, why would any company want to purchase Yahoo!? The company is too big and complicated, and though I do think Yahoo! can see success in the future, it will have to be as a smaller, leaner company. And that's not what you'd be buying today. A merger with AOL makes plenty of sense, especially from a math perspective, since two negatives make a positive—think about it—and a combined AOL/Yahoo! would at least have a clear market projection. Frankly, the only reason Yahoo! is interesting at all these days is because it's available. And let's face it, that's exactly what's wrong with Yahoo! in a nutshell.
Yes, Virginia, the Zune HD Is Still Dead
I've seen some hilarious reports this week that Microsoft has supposedly backpedaled and is no longer killing off the Zune HD music player. That's not true: Zune hardware work stopped in 2009, when the Zune HD was completed, and this week's statement was accurate if overdue. Zune support did issue a statement, stating that it's "still supporting the Zune HD hardware." But that doesn't contradict the original statement. In fact, the original statement mentioned that as well. The Zune HD is dead, folks. Sorry.
Amazon Kindle Fire Preorders Supposedly Skyrocket to 250,000 Units in Just Days
And I'm curious how we know that, since Amazon never releases sales figures for its Kindle products. This claim was made in an Android blog, so it's probably completely credible, as are any sightings of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and UFOs. Honestly, if I was guessing, Amazon as seen far more than 250,000 preorders. This thing is going to sell through the roof.
With IE, Are You "Glass Half Empty" or "Glass Half Full"?
Every month, Net Applications and other web firms publish usage-share data for web browsers, and every month Internet Explorer (IE) shows an overall small decline. This has led to a cottage industry, of sorts, of tech industry goons who simply write the same story every month—"IE is Dying! IE is Dying!"—since, let's face it, anything anti-Microsoft sells these days. Microsoft, meanwhile, regularly publishes what I call a "making lemonade" blog post in which it explains that things aren't so bad after all: Usage in the most recent IE version, IE 9, is through the roof, especially with Windows 7 users. And usage in the dated and insecure IE 6, which shipped with Windows XP a decade ago, is finally falling through the floor. So. Which of these views is correct, or at least "truthy"? Chicken Little. Or the lemonade stand? Honestly, I think everyone wins when the web browser market is more heterogeneous, and I see a future where IE still commands more usage than its competitors, but where those competitors—Google Chrome and Firefox on the desktop, primarily—split up decent-sized portions of the rest. And for this reason, I think both camps are missing the point, because each side has a stake in the game: They want Microsoft to fail, or they want Microsoft to succeed. I think Microsoft is going to succeed, but not to the extent that they did in the past. And yes, I realize that's not as headline-friendly as the other two. But then you get me by now, surely.
Why I Can't Stand the Mainstream Media, Part 217
The Wall Street Journal asks its readers: "Apple or Google: Who makes the best mobile operating system?"
Correct answer: Microsoft
Sprint Gets iPhone 4S, Offers One Feature Other Carriers Can't Match
I'm not sure why this was so buried in Apple's iPhone event this week—but let's face it, Apple makes no sense at all anyway, so this is pretty low on the list of illogical things it does—but the company quietly added Sprint as a US-based wireless carrier for the iPhone 4S, alongside AT&T and Verizon. But you might be wondering, aside from existing Sprint customers, why would anyone leave the safety of the nation's two biggest carriers to move to Sprint? Actually, there's one pretty compelling reason: Sprint is the only major US carrier to offer truly unlimited wireless data plans for the iPhone 4S (and, interestingly, the iPhone 4) to new customers; both AT&T and Verizon have ceased offering that kind of plan. I still wouldn't switch, personally, but if you're in an area with good Sprint coverage and want an iPhone, this is something to consider.
Steve Jobs' Official Biography Is Arriving Even Earlier
A planned, official biography of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was previously moved up to November because of his health issues, but now that Jobs has passed away the book will ship even earlier, on October 24. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is available now for preorder, and as you might expect is now number one on the Amazon.com bestseller list.
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Mary Jo, Leo, and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday as usual, and it should be available for download by the end of the weekend on iTunes, the Zune Marketplace, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.
But Wait, There's More