Microsoft tried for years to make Windows Phone/Windows Mobile a successful operating system that would rival Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Ultimately, the company failed in those efforts and Windows Phone officially shut down in 2019. However, it sounds like Microsoft isn't done yet with trying to complete in some way with Apple and Google in the mobile space.
In a new interview for The Times, Microsoft's Xbox head Phil Spencer took questions about the company's plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, even with some opposition and concerns from government regulators. In that interview, Spencer claims those groups don't have a lot of knowledge of how the video game industry works. He stated, "I’ve appreciated spending time with them and in certain cases helping to educate."
It's then that the article reveals something about Microsoft's plans that hasn't been mentioned before:
One area where Microsoft hopes the deal can increase competition is in mobile app stores, which are dominated by Google and Apple. It wants to create a rival service, starting with gaming. “We definitely get support from regulators when we talk about opening up mobile and being a credible third-party alternative on those devices — and we’re a long way from there today,” Spencer said.
The article doesn't offer any more details about this possible rival mobile app service and how it might work. Microsoft already has its cloud gaming service that does allow Android owners (via the Xbox app) and iOS device owners (with a browser) to access and play over 100 Xbox games. Hopefully Microsoft will expand on its plans for a new mobile app store when and if its merger plans with Activision Blizzard are completed.
Speaking of which, Spencer says that the Xbox business will continue even if the Activision Blizzard deal fails to go through. He stated:
This is an important acquisition for us. It’s not some linchpin to the long term — Xbox will exist if this deal doesn’t go through.
One way or the other, we should learn if the deal will be completely or not sometime later in 2023.
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