A couple of days ago Windows Phone 7 launched in over 30 countries with 60 operators. The largest smartphone launch, ever. Steve Ballmer held the fort in America whilst in London Stephen Fry stood on stage and announced, ‘I never thought the day would come that I would stand on a stage and praise Microsoft for doing something they could be proud of’. This is definitely a turning point for Microsoft in the smartphone business but will it be enough?
Microsoft needs Windows Phone 7 to gain market share. Currently the Microsoft hegemony is at risk due to the smartphone market. The smartphone is the pinnacle of all devices. It is the piece of technology which people carry around with them each day. Portability makes the smartphone interconnected with other services. In the case of Microsoft the success of Windows Phone 7 could make or break Bing, Xbox Live and Windows Live Services. If those are under threat then Windows will be under threat.
I stole some of those words from Andy Lees who recently gave a talk at Microsoft. He is certainly an innovator and understands the needs of the consumer. The man who has, supposedly, been put in charge of saving Microsoft. His task is huge because he needs to steer the ship of Microsoft to focus on the consumer (B2C), rather than the business (B2B). Attractive headlines such as “Microsoft’s New Mobile Boss Is Probably Screwed (MSFT, GOOG, AAPL)” indicate the difficulty of this challenge.
I believe Andy Lees has done it. The release of Windows Phone 7 signifies a change for Microsoft. Once they were the company who purely catered for the business consumer. Focusing on function and task. The smartphone business has blurred the lines between business and consumer. An iPhone user could easily be a student, full time parent or business professional. You can customize your device based on your needs.
Android and Apple have made it clear that you need to focus on the consumer, rather than on business function. Even RIM understands this to an extent whilst also keeping in mind business function. In the case of Windows Phone 7 (of which I have had many meetings and sessions about), the device is aimed at the consumer. So much so that in a meeting yesterday it was announced that Microsoft are not interested in tactically gaining market share but instead how to cater the best for our customers. Hence the introduction of copy & paste early 2011 due to public demand.
Despite this speculations are constantly being made about the prospect of Windows Phone 7 market share. Some analysts believe the figure will now never rise above 5%, even lose share, but remember there were many doubts about the iPhone in 2007. If you have used Windows Phone 7 then it is difficult to take the cynical reports about market share seriously.
If Windows Phone 7 was launched 6 months ago then they would have bitten a piece off Android. The effort now remains for current smartphone users to switch from their current device to Windows Phone 7. In my own mind I can see some RIM customers making the move and fed up Android developers moving to the stress-free Windows Phone 7 platform.
The innovation behind Windows Phone 7’s hubs have marked a new era of mobile. A smartphone which isn’t purely reliant upon opening and closing a vast collection of applications (made amusing through the first Microsoft adverts). A smartphone which allows you to see all of your networks at a glance. A smartphone that allows for a gaming experience second to none with the integration of Xbox Live.
Compared to my iPhone 3GS, Windows Phone 7 looks better equipped for my needs and I am sure others will think the same. Until I have extensively used Windows Phone 7 then I can’t say for certain if I will completely abandon the iPhone. I would like to stray away from using iTunes though.
I will provide a review of the HTC 7 Mozart Windows Phone 7 in the next week. If you can’t wait that long then reviews of the device are already emerging. I hope this article didn’t seem too biased… I truly only keep honest on this blog. To have an Apple fan, Stephen Fry, stand on stage and praise Windows Phone 7 must indicate a turning point though. The question is; has Microsoft acted too late? Will competitors turn out to be Lotus 1, 2, 3 to Microsoft or will everything die like the Kin? Time will tell…