The enthusiastic response to Microsoft Corp.’s announcement in Toronto this week that its next generation operating system will launch on schedule points out the growing importance of timing in the world of mobile technology.
Audience members at the company’s partner’s conference cheered when corporate vice-president Tami Reller announced that Windows 8 will be available to consumers in late October.
Reller added that business users will have access to aspects of the software, overhauled to support a new line of mobile handsets along with PCs, as early as the beginning of August.
“There was definitely a sense of relief,” said one blogger on a link to the four-day event’s website.
The reaction contrasts with the pummeling investors have given Waterloo’s Research In Motion Ltd. after it announced in late June that its new mobile platform will be delayed again, this time until the first quarter of 2013.
Nokia Corp. has also “suffered from their slow response,” said Wayne Lam, senior wireless analyst at IHS.
He said the Finnish handset maker continues to pay for twice delaying the sale of its flagship smartphone in 2010 due to a software upgrade taking longer than expected.
And the top competitors in the smartphone race, South Korea’s Samsung Group and Cupertino, Ca.-based Apple Inc., have also sacrificed sales and angered consumers when product delivery has lagged expectations.
Some analysts have said that the unveiling of the iPhone 4S last fall rather than in the summer as per the typical refresh allowed Samsung to leap to the top in global smartphone shipments.
This year’s iPhone update is also expected in the fall, with tech websites citing manufacturing delays related to a supply bottleneck at chip maker Qualcomm Inc.
Even Samsung’s popular Galaxy S III has seen slow shipments to carriers and retailers due to tight supply of parts for components such as handset casings.
There is also a growing potential for delays as competition heats up among original equipment makers for particular chip sets, especially those that can accommodate fourth generation wireless network standards.
Patent fights and other forms of litigation are added threats, with smartphone maker HTC Corp. of Taiwan reporting a plunge in profit in the second quarter after European sales disappointed and phones earmarked for the U.S. market were held up by customs inspections.
Delays have also plagued tablet PCs. RIM’s PlayBook struggled to gain traction after a late debut and the newest version of Apple’s iPad is facing price drops in China following a launch more than three months behind schedule due to a lawsuit over who owned the rights to the iPad trademark in mainland China.
Still, the RIM experience is unusual, even in an industry where rollout hiccups can occur.
“None of the other folks have made the same mistakes,” said Knud Jensen, a professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto,