Symbian has the market share; Apple's iPhone has the mind share. The future of mobile, however, will be owned by the company or project that best appeals to developers, especially open-source developers. Microsoft, with its long-standing interest in developers, also needs to reach out to open-source developers, if it wants to succeed.
Symbian is taking this road, as Michael Mace points out, putting developers, and not itself, at the center of attention. The more money third-party developers can make with Symbian, the better off Symbian will be.
Palm, too, is trying to appeal to open-source developers by making it cheap and lucrative to develop for Palm devices.
Apple's world, by contrast, comes with a hugely sexy device, optimized distribution...and low return on investment for its developers, according to Newsweek. In Apple's world, developers add value to Apple, but not necessarily to themselves.
Now Microsoft is launching Windows Mobile 6.5, a light upgrade to previous versions that has failed to catch the media's attention. Today, the company has few--246, to be exact--applications available for version 6.5 in its Windows Marketplace for Mobile, but it has more than 20,000 designed for Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1.
The question, however, is whether it can attract new developers to the seemingly moribund Windows Mobile, which declined in market share to just 9 percent of handsets shipped in the second quarter of 2009, according to The Wall Street Journal. An open-source complement strategy, similar to what it's using for SharePoint and its CRM product, could help.