Today, Microsoft sits in a very similar position in smartphones: unable to even define a vaporware vision of the future that hasn’t already been delivered by Apple.
Insightful article about the patterns Microsoft has taken with its mobile and portable products and the likely path of self-destruction for the near future, plus the best justification I’ve heard yet for the Microsoft retail stores:
[The presumed upcoming Windows Phone] almost requires Microsoft to build out its own copycat retail stores (were you wondering why?) so that it can attempt to sell the Windows Phone and the Zune to customers without any distracting Android, Symbian, and RIM alternatives, and particularly no iPods or iPhones around.
And I have to agree with this:
[…] in the smartphone space, where the winners are clearly RIM and Apple, the Palm Pre looks to have some potential, and Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile are all struggling to keep themselves afloat as “my OS, your hardware” platforms.
The “my OS, your hardware” model is clearly dead for smartphones and portable media devices. Maybe somebody should tell Google.