Microsoft Launches Content Club For SmartPhone Users

Now that MSFT has certain carriers offering MSFT smartphones, the inevitable has happened. Microsoft has launched a ‘content club’ where users can register and download content for their SmartPhone. The club has the ill-conceived name “Windows Mobile Start Services”, but is commonly called “Microsoft Club.” Club users can download content like ringtones, screen savers, etc. through a Internet PC, and sync it to their phone. The service is currently targeted at ATTWS customers who have the MPx200 SmartPhone. This is a clear threat to ATTWS and carriers in general, where MSFT becomes the OS brand, and the content portal brand (and sometimes the phone brand). Apprarently, the configurations currently sync with the phone over-the-air, but an obvious future option is PC-cradle sync where the carrier would lose even network traffic revenue (one way ATTWS makes money). Who ‘owns’ these customers? It looks more and more like MSFT. That’s why DoCoMo CEO Keiji Tachikawa said DoCoMo recommended that would-be makers of its smartphones produce models based on the Linux or Symbian OSes, but not MSFT. Although Club Microsoft is an obvious step for Redmond, I’m surprised MSFT pulled this move so soon. They should have spent at least another year lulling carriers into being comfortable with their phones. To me, this is like the Big Bad Wolf waiting in Grandma’s clothes, but blowing his cover as Little Red Riding Hood comes down the path. Did they forget how to play that kind of role? “My, what a big cash account you have.” “All the better to eat you with, my dear.”

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