In this week’s Engadget column I get a little nostalgic for the tenth birthday of Microsft’s Pocket PC platform. It’s not just nostalgia though. Pocket PC brought many innovations to the market and set the tone for a decade of mobile innovation. As Microsoft moves forward with both Windows Phone 7 and KIN, it’s important to see what lessons they’ve learned from the last ten years and how they take on today’s challengers.
Pocket PC may be no more, but there were some important lessons learned from what Microsoft attempted to do. The platform and hardware were a leap forward. With the inclusion of Windows Media Player and tight integration with the desktop, Pocket PC began to blur the lines of business and consumer functionality — these were the first devices that could serve as a mobile office with email and Office applications, yet also offer games, music, and movies. Pocket PC was also the first platform to have a fully integrated e-book architecture, called Microsoft Reader. Sadly, Microsoft’s total focus on Palm and the business market combined with later efforts to take on RIM and the BlackBerry meant that these features were ignored and totally shunned from most of the marketing. It wasn’t until 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone that attention refocused to the mass market consumer and not just the business market.