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Microsoft's Mobile EDU Opportunity
July 11, 2011 - 8:30pm

Windows 7 Phone. Anyone out there have one of these bad boys in their pocket?

The latest numbers I can find tell me that of every 100 readers, 7 and 1/2 of you are carrying a Windows phone. (Android 35%, RIM 27.1%, Apple 25.5%, Microsoft 7.5%, HP Palm 2.8%). The numbers in higher ed are most likely different, with Apple and Google taking up by far the largest share.

Mobile EDU on iPhone or Android platforms is today a sub-optimal experience. Yes, Blackboard is investing in Blackboard Mobile, and Desire2Learn has a mobile application. Lots of action in the Moodle mobile space. But none of the mobile apps for education have been built as deeply into the mobile operating system as apps like Apple's iWork mobile suite. Even the best apps will be limited if they are built on top of the mobile OS. The deeper the integration, the better the mobile experience.

Microsoft - this is your opportunity. Do whatever it takes to create the world's best mobile EDU platform. Apple's culture of non-transparency is perhaps too much fundamentally at odds with higher ed's culture of openness, sharing and transparency. Google is focused on providing an open platform, and does not need to invest in one area. Microsoft is in the enviable position that it faces low expectations and not much to lose in the mobile space. It could surprise everyone.

Stop trying to create a mobile OS that is all things to all people. Focus first on the verticals. Focus first on higher ed. Nail the mobile higher ed space, and then move on to other areas (health care, finance, etc. etc.) It is very hard to get everything right, and sometimes the best strategy is to focus on one area and diffuse the learning outward.

What would happen if Microsoft put its considerable resources and smarts to the problem of solving mobile education?

What investments would they make?

What parts of the edtech ecosystem would they need to fill in?

What would the be up-sell opportunities in education for a killer mobile EDU platform?

 

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