Microsoft could become new outlet for mobile start-ups

With mobile development becoming a major driver of new start-ups, various vendors and operating systems are increasingly competing for innovative products. Talented programmers in some of the world’s top tech hotspots, backed in the UK by both London corporate finance and Bristol corporate finance, are searching for access to more simplified models across multiple devices. Microsoft, long considered as the outsider in the smartphone market, could potentially lure developers to its new multi-platform offering.

While the Android OS has enabled the production of tablets, smartphones, in-home media players, and other devices that vary greatly in terms of screen size and processing power, third-party developers have to write discrete code for different device types. Coupled with the problem of Android fragmentation, where significant proportions of users use legacy versions of the OS for prolonged periods of time, this presents a significant challenge to developers. With Continuum, Microsoft hopes to address this problem and capture a significant part of the growing smartphone category over the medium term.

One of the most important moments of the 2015 Build Conference was the demonstration of Microsoft Continuum seamlessly adapting smartphone applications to run on a large monitor after the phone was connected via HDMI. In the demonstration, a smartphone version of PowerPoint switched to resemble the look and functionality of the desktop version when the smartphone was connected to an external mouse, keyboard, and monitor. Microsoft Continuum makes it easier for developers to write applications capable of scaling and adapting to different form factors and input devices, but the application still has to be written to include this capability.

Enhancing productivity features on smartphones is unlikely to bring about a significant increase in the popularity of Windows smartphones. Most consumers today have access to a wide variety of computing devices including desktops, laptops, and tablets, which already include powerful productivity software capabilities. Entertainment and especially gaming is what gets consumers excited about a smartphone platform. Along with growth of smartphone ownership, mobile gaming revenues have grown rapidly.

With new titles coming out frequently and game-play limitations imposed by the smartphone form factor, problems with player retention and long-run revenue sustainability have long plagued mobile game developers. Microsoft needs to use its in-house gaming titles like Halo and Minecraft to build game experiences with scaling capabilities and demonstrate to third party developers how discrete gameplay experiences can be present on the same device within the same game. While Microsoft Continuum makes scaling easier, developers still need to write scalable apps with alternate controls and other in-game assets like higher-resolution textures.

Microsoft needs to use its most popular games to show the value of making the additional investment. In turn a large selection of games that scale and adapt to external controls, and larger displays with expanded gameplay capabilities, would enhance the value proposition of Windows smartphones in the eyes of consumers, more than expanded productivity features.

 

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