Summary: Zune, Mobile, and Xbox are having a very hard time, so Microsoft starts suing companies (using patents) in what seems like unnecessary aggression
ALMOST everything that Microsoft tries in hardware inevitably fails pretty badly. Leading examples include Zune, phones, and Xbox. Microsoft is just losing a lot of money. Here is a new article about what happened to the Zune:
The Zune’s failure sent the company dow a very different path than Apple’s. Jobs & Co. were able to use the iPod’s success to launch the iPhone, and now the iPad. Microsoft’s mobile OS has struggled against the mobile operating system Apple uses, probably because Redmond never had a cell phone of its own to carry Windows Mobile as a follow-on product to the Zune.
When it comes to phones, Microsoft is just rebranding around the Vista 7 name. Further refinements are still being applied to the name, as if dropping the “Windows Mobile” name would save the dying platform from its rapid decline.
Microsoft is not very confident about the coolness of the name of its newest operating system for mobile phones named Windows Phone 7 Series. The coolest name would have been WP7S! But Microsoft has decided to chop the word ‘series’ from the ‘Windows Phone 7 Series’. The phone will now be called Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft is also patenting user interfaces (software) around “Windows Phone 7″ [1, 2, 3]. Is Microsoft preparing to sue like Apple did [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]? Based on its statement about the case [1, 2], it’s not impossible.
This brings us to Xbox. Microsoft has begun using patents aggressively. The monopolist is going litigious again (as it did against Primax and against TomTom for example). Here is some of the latest coverage:
Microsoft has filed suit (PDF) in a Seattle court and with the ITC against British gaming accessories maker Datel for patent infringement. Redmond claims the peripheral company stole various design patents from the Xbox 360 controller.
At first glance, Datel’s $30 TurboFire and $50 WildFire controllers obviously bear much resemblance to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gamepad, though minor aesthetics do vary. To be fair, plenty of other companies have similar clones, but they must have more than just trivial differences.
So it’s about appearance. As we showed earlier, Microsoft is patenting user interfaces too. It’s bordering on fashion patents, which are some of the most controversial out there. As Openbytes puts it, “MS looking for scraps off the table?”
Why should you invent anything when you can merely patent the idea and then wheel out your portfolio when you think the time is right? Readers to Openbytes may remember Microsoft’s holodeck which was reported here and now it seems Datel is next in line for an “attack of the drones” albeit Microsoft legal.
Datel is apparently infringing the following patents, D521,015, D522,011, D547,763, D581,422, D563,480, and D565,688 but in a nutshell its about Datel’s controller looking like Microsoft’s. – Is this an example of Microsoft settling for scraps off the floor because of the increase in popularity to alternatives of most of its product base? – If so I think we can expect more “spiteful” behaviour as Microsoft can’t be best pleased that they lost the appeal in the i4i case.
There is actually more trouble for Xbox right now. Firstly, we have witnessed serious security issues that resemble account cracking from a few years back (en masse hijacking). Victims now include a top Microsoft employee (the Xbox Live director):
A Microsoft representative confirmed that a group of hackers gained temporary control of the Xbox Live Account owned by Larry Hryb, the Xbox Live programming director who goes by the online handle “Major Nelson.”
This probably confirms the stereotype that Microsoft cannot handle security.
Xbox 360 is also limited by design, just like Apple products. In the news we have:
Microsoft officially declares that the Xbox 360 will not be receiving a browser.
When Microsoft posted the enhanced game update to the Xbox Live Marketplace on March 30, it made a fatal error by making the download available before the Call of Duty game itself was updated to accept the download.
As a result, the game crashed for hours for people who legitimately purchased the content, while Microsoft struggled to fix the problem that it had apparently never dealt with before.
With quality and service of this level, is it surprising that Microsoft loses billions in hardware? █