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The Trojan Horse with a Touchscreen

The Trojan iPhone

The tech sites are all atwitter — [literally] — with the news from Apple that the second generation iPhone will soon be released with more speed and utility for fewer bucks (at least upfront). The big news from the announcement is that the new phone will be targeting enterprise customers by offering compatibility with Microsoft Exchange. But the bigger news, I think, is the announcement of a new platform called [MobileMe] that promises seamless, internet-based, synchronization of information across multiple devices and operating systems. It’s a pitch at developing a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that will compete head-on with Microsoft’s Live Mesh and looks to leverage the Trojan Horse infiltration of the enterprise space by iPhone 3G to gain mind- and market share in this developing market. Very impressive.

A few days ago I [wrote about] my trial of the Live Mesh service and I was impressed with what they were offering. Still am, but not so much. Granted, MobileMe may not be as ambitious as Live Mesh — but it delivers basic services, for an honest-to-gosh fee (remember those..?), and it’s shipping now. Mary Jo Foley over at ZDnet [wonders] if Microsoft’s slow development pace on Live Mesh is due to the kind of internecine competition that Microsoft is famous for. Perhaps the sight of Apple getting the jump on them (again) will help settle those squabbles.

Well, of course, if there are potential winners in the zero-sum game of “Who’s on Top” there also must be losers. Who’s the biggest loser on the platform playing field? It’s not Microsoft. As Steve Gillmor and others have [noted], Microsoft’s market share in the enterprise is so formidable that they can actually benefit from competitors opening up new market possibilities for them. First mover advantage is more important to the also-rans. Apple can take a bite out of their market share — maybe even a big one — but time is on Microsoft’s side. For now. No, the big loser is clearly Google. Aside from that little matter of riding a one-trick revenue pony, the [biggest problem] Google has always had is that they depend on a competitor, Microsoft, to provide access to a majority of their customers (and income). They are channel-bound in the worst possible way. Hence their rush into mobile operating systems with Android. But, alas, Android is still vaporware and the new iPhones ship next month. Perhaps to drive the point home about the potential loss to Google from their platform push, the Apple [product announcement] hits repeatedly on the fact that, “MobileMe web applications are 100 percent ad-free“. That’s gotta sting those Stanford-minted egos in Mountain View — Steve Jobs, the Reed College dropout, and his company not only have a beautifully-developed channel to their customers that can take advantage of Microsoft but is not bound by them, they actually get customers to pay for their products!

What a concept.

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