The Comcast Repairman and Microsoft’s Mobile Challenge

Over the last month or so, I had problems with my Comcast router.  Intermittent really, just not working at the most inconvenient of times.  So I’d have to reboot it and usually it would come back online.

I had enough of this and asked Comcast – my provider – to replace the router, which they agreed after the obligatory “test-everything” routine.  When the Comcast worker arrived, I noticed that he had a pretty old smartphone that seemed central to his job.

He called headquarters on it to validate my IP numbers, but also seemed to enter data on a Comcast work application as he replaced my router.

Eager to see what a mainstream enterprise was using these days, I asked him if I could take a look at his smartphone.  “Sure,” he said, and handed me the smartphone.

The first thing I noticed about the ancient piece was the Windows logo.  “Great,” I thought, perhaps Windows 7 or Windows 8.  After a closer look though, it became clear that this was neither Windows 7 or 8.  Looked familiar though.

“What’s running on this?”, I asked.  Looking sheepish, he said, “Windows Mobile”.

“But don’t worry,” he followed up with.  “We’re getting an all-new smartphone in a few weeks”.

“Ah, interesting”, I said. I was really intrigued now.  “Windows 8, is it?  Will you be upgrading to Windows 8?”

He looked at me and shook his head.

“No”, he replied.  “We’re all getting iPhones.  We’ll be be using iPhones on the job.”

I tried to follow up about the decision process, but he was not in the know unfortunately.  But this would be somewhat disheartening for Microsoft to lose an established customer like Comcast.

I don’t know whether they tried to retain Comcast, but this shows in a small way, the large challenge posed by iOS and Android based devices in the enterprise.  It will NOT be a slam dunk for Microsoft as it tries to win contracts, even with clients who use versions of Windows for their desktops and servers.

Microsoft will have to fight for every inch of the enterprise mobile space like they’ve never done.

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