The real reason I dropped Windows Mobile and why you should too


Last week I switched my mobile platform from Windows Mobile to iPhone. I have written some fairly nasty things about iPhone and still stand by many of those statements. I will write about this at some length because as far as the development of our industry is concerned, the iPhone 2.0 is pretty earth shattering. So why does someone who has had a virtual love affair with a Windows Mobile device switch to iPhone? How in the world do you justify abandoning a platform on which you’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars in app development? Why?

For the same reasons we use Vista. It may have issues, but it’s the best fit for what we do.

It really is as simple as that.

I love Vista. I use it at home, at work, on the laptop, it fits just about everything I do. Business, development, video and image editing, etc. Is it crash prone? No. Does Outlook 2007 have a slight heart attack every time I touch it? Yes. But pound for pound, no other system I have met is as reliable and able to work with all my computer needs to the extent that I will overlook the few issues it has. Most disagree with me on that, but to each his own.

Windows Mobile for me was a business tool. But Windows Mobile has made just a few inches of progress throughout the years. It is still a clunky, battery-draining highly unreliable and inconsistent phone software that fails at meeting even the most basic of my needs. For example, last week the Live Messenger on my phone just died. No errors, nothing running in the background, just clicking on the little green buddy does nothing. Stock AT&T rom, before you ask. Mail sync is supposed to be 100%, but I found myself rebooting the phone twice a week to get it going. Pocket IE is starting to give Microsoft Internet Explorer a bad name for Petes sake!!!

Windows Mobile, for all its compromises, is not even good enough to do the one thing it is designed to do. With iPhone 1, it was just an interface battle. With iPhone 2, Microsoft should just kill their mobile effort. Yes, it’s that far behind and with App Store it may not have a chance at all, especially if Apple starts offering a choice of handsets.

So I switched to iPhone 2.0. Is it perfect? Oh, lord no. Not even close. For example, while they have licensed Exchange EAS for push sync, it doesn’t have a reliable folder sync. For example, it syncs my mailbox just fine. But it does not alert me to the new messages in any of the subfolders. Dialing a contact is as easy as just typing in their name. On an iPhone it’s clicking on Phone, Contacts, letter of their last name, phone number selection. Yes, really! There is no way to search through the mail. There is no way to search the server for anything. No way to flag items in the mailbox.

I’m willing to tolerate those problems because Windows Mobile has never been at even 80% satisfaction rating with any of the above. Sure, it was capable but it simply did not deliver enough to be a viable business tool.

So when you can’t count onto something for business, why should you be tied to it for all the other stuff you do? For me, that’s Facebook. Today I receive more friend and personal communications over Facebook than I do over email. I line up appointments and see what my buddies are up to using Twitter. I like the fact that I can get some entertainment value from my device, so I don’t have to carry a phone and an iPod. Write a blog post, attach an image to it? Done.

With iPhone 2.0, Apple has been able to bring a comparable business experience to the Windows Mobile, and platform-wise and entertainment-wise simply destroy any chances I would ever want to look back to Windows Mobile. The App Store brings an actual platform to iPhone, ability to obtain and play with apps that are designed for the device, checked through by Apple, quickly installed and uninstalled giving me the ability to play with stuff if it works or dump it if it doesn’t.

iPhone fits my lifestyle better, as far as I am concerned it is the best. It may not be perfect, but it is robust enough to fit everything I do that I am willing to overlook a few problems. As Apple continues to push down this path I think Microsoft will have more and more to worry about. How far along do you think AppStore for Mac OS X is?