Monday, December 17, 2012

As Google drops EAS support, Windows Phone users left in the lurch

Google announced on Friday that it will be ending support for Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol as of Jan. 30, 2013. Those currently using Google Sync to connect their mobile devices to Gmail will be able to continue to use the service, but no new Google Sync users will be accepted.

Google suggests that those needing to synchronize their non-Android devices to their Google accounts use CalDAV, CardDAV, and IMAP to sync Google Calendar, Contacts, and Gmail respectively. That works fine for iOS users, as Apple provides CalDAV and CardDAV support.

While IMAP isn't the ideal solution for push email (using the iOS Mail app), there's a far better solution for iOS users: a Gmail app in the iOS App Store (which is how most folks will solve the issue).

Microsoft, however, doesn't have that set of options. Unlike Apple and Google, Microsoft does not currently support CalDAV or CardDAV on its Windows Phone platform. That means that Windows Phone users will be left without a convenient method of synchronizing their Google calendar or contacts.

That's not all the bad news, either. Earlier this month, Google said it wasn't going to develop apps for Windows Phone, at least for now. A look at the poor uptake on Windows Phone explains why: the platform simply doesn't have enough market share.

While that means no Google Calendar or Contacts apps for Windows Phone, it also means no Gmail, like Google built for iOS. Users wanting to get Gmail will be forced to use IMAP, which can work, but which has the potential for delivery delays, as well.

The real loser is the consumer. Cynics can say that -- based on the market share of Windows Phone -- it's not that big of a loss. However, it's still a loss, and it definitely shows what Google thinks of Windows Phone.

Example: Google rushed out a version of Google Maps and a standalone YouTube. Meanwhile, although Google has created a native search app for the Windows Phone (but then search is their bread-and-butter), WP users shouldn't be expecting much else from the Internet giant, at least for now.

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