Even though Windows Phone is significantly behind iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, Microsoft has billions in cash and a superior developer tooling platform so if they stick with it and keep chipping away, I think Microsoft can claw their way back to relevance in the mobile smart phone market.
It will take a ton of hard work and discipline to pull this off, but Microsoft does have a fabulous software developer relations program, they are a company of developers for developers. No other company caters to and values their developer community more than Microsoft. If they can make it easy to develop fantastic applications quickly (in .Net programming languages that millions of .Net developers already know) on their Windows Phone platform and begin to recapture some of the market share they have lost, I think Microsoft stands a good chance at being a significant player in the mobile smart phone market within three years. The mobile phone market moves incredibly fast, so three years is a long time in that world.
I still feel that WP7 has a good chance of making inroads. I do not see it becoming an actual competitor, but it will be an alternative and should do well on its own. Developers will go wherever there is a chance to make money. IOS and Android are the obvious choices. Blackberry is falling behind in the casual consumer market, but still has a decent grasp of the business community. There is still enough Windows loyalist out there that will stay with the platform, and the phones themselves are nice enough to gain new “followers”. But in the long run iOS and Android will become the two main platforms simply due to economics. Dollar for dollar it is cheaper to produce Android phones due to not needing to license the software. Developers are all over the place for the big two, and there are apps in abundance.
I guess it depends how well it can work with the existing Microsoft’s operating systems and how much better it can perform vs. its competition. This is also hinged upon Microsoft keeping its majority share of the market with computer operation systems. Google came out with a new operating system and it’s for free. So things might get shaken up later on down the road.
Microsoft’s chief problem is getting past its bad reputation. Its mobile products were simply awful prior to Phone 7.
Nevertheless I’m pretty sure that Microsoft will win a piece of the market. It has power, money and a good different mobile OS. Also they have great development tools. And with the partnership with great mobile operators and great mobile phones, I’m pretty sure they will enter the fight. Windows Phone 7 is new, unique. It may not measure up to iPhone and Android right now…It eventually will win and will hopefully make upgrades painless.