Windows Phone is great, so why aren't more people buying them?

Summary:Lately, I have been using the HTC One X, One S, and Samsung Galaxy Note. These devices have fantastic hardware specifications and they overwhelmed me a bit so I was having second thoughts about my HTC Radar 4G and the Windows Phone platform.

Lately, I have been using the HTC One X, One S, and Samsung Galaxy Note. These devices have fantastic hardware specifications and they overwhelmed me a bit so I was having second thoughts about my HTC Radar 4G and the Windows Phone platform. I then listened to Joshua Topolsky on The Vergecast and read a few articles online questioning the long term success of Windows Phone and asking if Microsoft should just give up on the smartphone market. I thus felt the need to put together another pro-Windows Phone blog post after putting my SIM back into my HTC Radar 4G and realizing Windows Phone really is my preferred smartphone platform and I can't help but believe it truly is the third viable modern platform.

The Verge Lumia 900 review and Windows Phone software

I see there are over 2500 comments on Joshua's Nokia Lumia 900 review and it is clear that there are some passionate smartphone users out there. I found the review to be very well written and Joshua was clear that the design of the Lumia 900 is fantastic. Great design definitely has a place in the smartphone market.

I completely agree with Joshua that Nokia dropped the ball with the camera on the Lumia 900. They had the opportunity to blow us away with a high quality camera, but it looks like HTC beat Nokia with their Titan II camera in a game that Nokia should have won easily.

The controversy in The Verge review comes up when you reach the software section and read the subtitle that reads I think it's time to stop giving Windows Phone a pass followed by statements that Windows Phone is death by a thousand cuts. I will be the first to admit that Windows Phone is not perfect and there is room for improvement, but the same can be said for Android and iOS as well. As I mentioned back when Windows Phone was first put to public testing, the philosophy upon which Windows Phone is founded is different than the iOS and Android focus on applications. The OS is designed for you to perform actions that are intuitive and natural without you having to think about a specific application, open that application, and then carry out your business. I know I am much more efficient when using a Windows Phone device and with four out of five phones in my family now running Windows Phone I can tell you that my family agrees. I have also seen a friend's family go entirely to the Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone and absolutely love the experience.

I understand that after nearly two years an operating system can get a bit dull, but I don't see how iOS is more efficient at all. I can understand Android with ICS being efficient if you have widgets setup and I personally am loving Android at the moment too, but I still see Force Close warnings on new Android devices while my HTC Radar 4G is rock solid and stable. We all have different preferences and needs and I value Joshua's opinion in regards to Windows Phone.

Where's the cutting edge hardware?

IMHO, most of the first generation Windows Phone devices were basically Android devices that manufacturers assembled with a new operating system and they were nothing to get overly excited about. Reviewers around the Internet agree the Nokia Lumia 900 is probably one of the best pieces of hardware and I understand that Windows Phone doesn't need quad-core processors and super HD displays. However, I do want to see some manufacturers make some efforts to bring out fantastic hardware. It looks like the HTC Titan II may be a winner as well, but I want more for other carriers.

Where's the carrier support?

AT&T easily rules the Windows Phone world here in the U.S. with T-Mobile in second with low to mid-level devices. Sprint and Verizon each only have a single first generation piece of hardware and Microsoft cannot hope to gain any appreciable market share with such lame carrier support. It's been a few months since WP 7.5 was launched and we don't even hear rumors of Sprint or Verizon getting any updated hardware. How can you have the largest carrier in the U.S. with a single product that is over a year old and promote your OS as something people should buy?

Apps: What, 70,000 isn't enough for you?

I used to keep up with and write a weekly Windows Phone Wednesday article and if you go back to these you can see I documented the progress as Microsoft passed 5,000, then 15,000, then 50,000, and more apps. There are now so many apps I have a difficult time staying focused and writing these articles. I understand that many key apps are missing and have read some recent articles that do a good job of documenting some of these glaring omissions. You can check out Andrew's article on business apps compared between the three platforms. However, as I mentioned earlier, I don't think you always need apps you see on iOS or Android to get the job done on Windows Phone. Mary-Jo wrote about this in here recent article on the app conversation. I also believe that most people use 10-15 key apps every single day and if they really looked at their app usage I don't think Windows Phone is as problematic as it is often made out to be.

Looking through my iPhone 4S that has about 100 apps too many loaded and my Android devices the only apps I really miss on Windows Phone are Words with Friends (AlphaJax is a superior game though, but needs to open up to iOS and Android users), Kobo Books, and an HP 48G calculator emulator. All of my key apps are there, including Kindle, YouVersion Bible, Evernote, ESPN ScoreCenter, Facebook, Twitter (Rowi), Flixster, Google Voice, TripIt, Poynt, RunKeeper, Skype (beta), Spotify, and USAA Bank.

Wait for Apollo or get going now?

I hear people saying that Apollo will be the Windows Phone version that makes things happen, but we have seen very little about what is even going to be in Apollo so that sounds more like someone's wishful thinking. Microsoft has a solid platform now and has worked hard to get developers on board. It is time for them to focus on hardware partners and carriers and get some real momentum behind the platform. They have the funds to stick it out for the long run and according to Mary-Jo Foley, "I can say with near certainty there won’t be any white flags raised in Redmond any time soon." As I continuously say, you need to try Windows Phone to appreciate it and people who do seem to really enjoy the platform. Now, when can I get a sexy new HTC Windows Phone device?

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Topics: Mobility, Android, Apps, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Operating Systems, Software, Telcos, Windows

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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