updated 09:15 am EST, Wed January 9, 2008
MS Says no iPhone Rival
Microsoft will not be producing an in-house attempt at replicating the iPhone, soon to be retired company CEO Bill Gates has told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (registration required for full article). The executive explained that it was more important for his firm to stress its partnerships with companies such as Motorola and Samsung than to try and replicate Apple's efforts, which depend on both the phone and software being made by the same company.
"No, we will not do that," Gates says in the translated interview. "In the supposed smartphone business we will concentrate solely on software with Windows Mobile."
The statements come despite Microsoft's past history with portable media players. It had initially pledged only to provide software support for products that would support the Windows Media format and created the PlaysForSure program to guarantee compatibility with protected songs between multiple devices. However, the Redmond-based company's release of the Zune in November 2006 broke with this strategy as both the player and the support for its proprietary music store format were solely under Microsoft's control, breaking compatibility with other devices and services.
In separate news, Microsoft late yesterday also acknowledged that it may develop a Blu-ray add-on for the Xbox 360 to accommodate a shift in demand. Although it continues to support HD DVD, the console maker agrees that Warner's new preference for Blu-ray may pressure the creation of a Blu-ray disc reader to complement or replace the HD DVD attachment.
"It should be consumer choice," says Xbox group marketing manager Albert Penello, "And if that's the way they vote, that's something we'll have to consider."
Penello also noted that the shift by Warner is a definite "setback" but that the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD had shifted momentum multiple times. The Xbox 360 is less likely to be swayed by these conflicts as it does not depend on an HD movie disc format for its success, he says. By contrast, Sony's PlayStation 3 is dependent on Blu-ray but may not rely on its ability to play its native movie format even if it proves successful.
"With the PlayStation 2, DVD was a big part in the beginning, but over time, people were not buying it as a DVD player after first year or two," he adds.