When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

Summary: So far, Microsoft has treated Windows Phone 7 like a soft opening at a restaurant, where you open the doors quietly while you get the operation running smoothly. But you can't stay below the radar forever and hope to build a business. So when does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

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If Windows Phone 7 was a restaurant, you'd be right to wonder just when the proprietor plans to have its grand opening. What Microsoft has done so far is more like a soft opening, where you put out an "open for business" sign and welcome customers but don't go out of your way to pack the house.

As one authority in the bistro business defines the term: "The soft opening gives you a chance to work out all the logistical kinks, train the staff, tweak the menu, and really understand who you want to attract as a customer. This way you are in a position to hit a home run on the night of the grand opening."

Ah, yes. The grand opening. The point of the soft opening is to ensure success in the grand opening. Note to Microsoft: You can't stay below the radar forever and hope to build a business.

So when does Microsoft expect to have the grand opening for Windows Phone 7? The new platform has had a very low-key and very soft opening that has lasted for nearly a calendar quarter. It's been so soft that at least one hardware partner has begun grumbling about it publicly. James Choi, marketing strategy and planning team director of LG Electronics global, told Pocket-lint, "[F]rom a consumer point of view the visibility is less than we expected" and "we strongly feel that it has a strong potential even though the first push wasn’t what everyone expected.”

Part of the point of the soft opening for Windows Phone 7 is to work out technical and performance issues in the real world (see the iPhone 4 experience for an example of what happens if you don't do this). It gives the first wave of app developers a chance to fill the marketplace and work out bugs with early adopters, who are generally more technical and more forgiving of teething problems. There's also a chance to expand onto CDMA networks (like Verizon and Sprint in the U.S.) and introduce some new handsets.

The first Windows Phone 7 update should appear within a few weeks, adding essential features (like copy-paste support) that were missing in the first release. The expansion to Verizon's network is promised in the first half of this year. After those two milestones occur, will Microsoft ratchet up its Windows Phone 7 marketing and make a serious run at gaining some share?

I hope so, and they've already got a blueprint for how to do it, courtesy of the same hardware partners who are getting antsy now.

Most of the reactions I've read to the interview with LG's Choi zeroed in on that "less than we expected" quote, but I was more intrigued by this later comment about Windows Phone 7:

What we feel is that is absolutely perfect for a huge segment out there. What we feel is that some people believe that some operating systems, mainly Google, are extremely complicated for them. But Windows Phone 7 is very intuitive and easy to use.

That, in shorthand, is how Microsoft should be marketing Windows Phone 7. Position it and demo it directly against Android. Contrast the complexity and confusion of Android with the simplicity of a Windows Phone. The Android platform is ripe for the same sort of pointed comparisons that Apple used to such devastating effect in its "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" series of ads. The humorous possibilities are endless. "Oh, sorry, you can't do that because you're stuck on last year's flavor, Gingerbread. They're up to Tiramisu now and I just saw the roadmap for Zabaglione."

I think Choi is also correct that Windows Phone 7 is boring to the enthusiast community that has driven smartphone adoption so far. But the next big bump in the smartphone adoption curve will come as new waves of less technically savvy users arrive. Microsoft has actually designed a phone UI that is comforting for feature phone users, who don't want to scroll though four screenfuls of apps and folders to do stuff. Making a head-to-head comparison with Android (and to a lesser extent with iPhone and BlackBerry) is the way to peel off these new arrivals to the smartphone world and guide them into your camp.

I don't think Microsoft can afford the luxury of extending this soft opening until the end of the year. My colleague James Kendrick wonders aloud whether Microsoft can right this ship. I think there's still time, thanks mostly to the lock-in from carrier contracts, which spread the pool of available buyers out over two years.

From personal experience, I can testify that you need to get up close and personal with Windows Phone 7 to really appreciate it. That's especially true for the technically timid who have stuck with feature phones through the early years of the smartphone adoption curve. As those contracts expire, they bring a steady stream of curious people into stores to check out replacements. Microsoft needs to make sure they see Windows Phone products and get a convincing demo, especially if they're considering an Android device instead.

Ironically, the strategy it takes to succeed with this segment of the market is likely to be off-putting to the enthusiast/early adopter crowd that covers mobile devices closely today. For them, it's important for Microsoft to show momentum, with quarterly updates that show improvements in the technology.

Oh, and numbers. Microsoft needs to show steady increases in sales and share, especially in the quarter that ends the company's fiscal 2010 on June 30. And they can only generate those numbers if they actually hold a grand opening for Windows Phone 7.

Topics: Software, Android, Google, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Windows

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109 comments
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  • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

    I would be more interested to see what Samsung's numbers are and if they are upset about consumer uptake. the 1 LG phone in the US does not compare to Samgung's and to a lesser extent the two HTC Devices out there.

    If Samsung and HTC aren't happy with WP7 sales then this would be more of a valid point, however, LG also needs to look at its own house and see that their phone was designed poorly and nobody really cares about DLNA compatibility from their phone.
    nyc2theworld
    • Some truth in that

      @nyc2theworld

      I think the LG form factor is more likely to appeal to the BlackBerry switcher, and when you put it side by side with a Samsung Focus the latter wins hands-down.
      Ed Bott
      • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

        @Ed Bott <br><br>I'd take LG's comments and throw them in the trash. Why?....because compared to handsets from other manufacturers; LG's products look very cheap and thats why their sales are uninspiring.<br><br>This is my first smartphone and initially I thought I'd go with an LG device because my old cell was a very reliable LG that did its job well. However, the devices offered from HTC and Samsung just made LG's look pitiful. I setteld on the Dell Venue Pro. Its a very inspiring device that makes the LG devices look like KINS.
        NPGMBR
    • Very odd that Samsung, HTC, the carriers, and MS have said NOTHING.

      Was it a non-discloser agreement, or what is happening?? I could see carriers with a large inventory of unsold WP7 phones, wanting to keep things quiet and unload as many phones as possible before the bad news hits. If it were announced how few WP7 phones were actually sold, they might never be able to move the final inventory. Have heard zero about carriers ordering more WP7 phones.

      And, sometimes it is what is NOT said that is the most telling.

      What really is going on here? Why the silence? How is it enforced? Why did LG talk?
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

        @DonnieBoy
        Do you make it your business to troll every Microsoft article?
        illegaloperation
      • day2die: The topic is WP7, and why the silence? How did everybody come to

        agree to not talk?? Samsung, HTC, the carriers, and finally Microsoft are not talking.

        Thanks for participating and contributing in the talkbacks
        DonnieBoy
      • day2die, DonnieBoy is not associated with the technology world

        so all he can do is troll these boards as for him, sadly, that is as close as he will be able to get in reference to a career in the technology sector.
        :|
        Tim Cook
      • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

        I agree that DB can be something of an antagonist, but on this issue he is correct. It is somewhat infantile calling him a troll when, on this issue, all he is repeating is what many in the industry are saying, either directly or indirectly - including Ed Bott, James Kendrick and others. If DB is a troll, does that also make Ed Bott, James Kendrick and others trolls? I think not!<br><br>MS is well know for trumpeting every minor "achievement". If they bought a box of biscuits from a girl guide they'd try to make it front page news. So, how is it that all we hear is the sound of silence from MS on WP7 sales, income from WP7, number of apps sold and so forth? And why is it that manufacturers are also not providing sales figures etc? It does seem somewhat "conspiratorial". It was only three months or so ago that MS and WP7 staff/developers were walking down a main street somewhere in the USA with a coffin as a metaphor for the death of iOS and Android. Why is it now that MS has a publicity clamp on just about everything to do with WP7? I don't care whether WP7 succeeds or fails, but every piece of information at this point suggests that WP7 is a long way from a success.<br><br>Ed I would have thought that the coffin parade by developers WAS the grand opening!
        Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

      @nyc2theworld

      I selected a HTC Mozart over the LG offering, so I can see LG might be taking a hit.

      I purchased 4 Wp7 phones for my business and gave 3 to colleagues that had not used smartphones before. They are all delighted with the phones and love the UI. With full integration with our office exchange server, sharepoint and office apps they are tools rather than toys (although the games, entertainment and social functions are excellent as well). While iPhones may attract the well-off fashion conscious and gadget geeks love Android, there is a huge majority of phone users struggling with their semi-smart phones and confusing UIs that would love WP7.

      There's also other marketing occuring with WP7, by WP7 users and word of mouth. Every iPhone and Android user I know who's asked to try out the phone has been impressed by it's speed and ease of use and a number are starting to look at when their contracts are up.

      However, having foiund the perfect restaurant, I'm wondering if I want it to become McDonalds ;-)
      tonymcs@...
  • Agreed...

    Ed, I agree with you completely on this. This has been a nice opportunity to get feedback from the early adopters about which features are needed and which kinks need resolved to make a truly successful launch. Once it launches on CDMA carriers like Verizon and Sprint, however, Microsoft absolutely MUST do what it hasn't done well in over a decade... market the hell out of something. Go for the big, splashy launch party. Show off the more "magical" features... and don't be afraid to get down and dirty to compare it, functionally, with Android and Apple iOS.
    GoodThings2Life
    • Agreed

      @GoodThings2Life

      They have a nice OS going here. Now they need to get it out there.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Who is WP7 supposed to be good for?

        @Cylon Centurion 0005 ... Bott writes: "Microsoft has actually designed a phone UI that is comforting for feature phone users, who don?t want to scroll though four screenfuls of apps and folders to do stuff."

        In short, they've made a smartphone for people who don't want a smartphone.

        Sound to me like instead of taking on a smartphone player, they should just try to be the default for people who aren't in the market for smartphones at all, and would rather quickly scan tiles on the front page to see how many calls and emails they have, and what time it is.
        HollywoodDog
    • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

      @GoodThings2Life The thing is MSFT doesn't market...they leave that to their partner PC Manufactuers.

      That PC-marketing relationship is not going to work when you have the platform made by one person (who is the underdog), the device made by another (who is already selling tons of devices running other OSes), and another person providing the service (who is looking to sell devices that they know won't come back).

      They are going to have to abandon their old ways of marketing and take a more direct to consumer role of advertising WP7...and get the manufactuers and carriers to follow their lead (rather than the carriers and lesser extent manufacturer leadind the advertising charge)
      nyc2theworld
      • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

        @nyc2theworld

        For some reason I remember the Microsoft marketing Windows 7. The commercials that said Windows 7 was "My Idea".
        mgaul
    • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

      @GoodThings2Life

      I've seen a few WP7 adverts from MS, but last night I saw one for it from AT&T, I assume they're now trying to balance their offering a bit better?
      OffsideInVancouver
      • I would imagine that AT&amp;T is eager to move WP7 inventory before it gets too

        stale, and surely before any more bad news comes out. Not sure how much each phone cost them, or how many of the 1.5 million they got, but, the dollar value could be quite significant.
        DonnieBoy
    • LMAO.. c'mon.. &quot;soft release&quot;.. are you kidding??

      @GoodThings2Life.. this is damage control... so they don't have to say WP7's are selling like crap.. they had a huge marketing budget.. i saw a bunch of ads for the phones on TV myself and i don't watch much TV.. they tried, but they just didn't make a compelling value proposition to consumers..

      their ads are funny, but what they really need to do is what Ed said, just make a straight up case.. 'our phones do everything that android phones do except they are WAY easier to use'.. DONE! end of comercial...!

      don't try to be too artsy or funny just show consumers why your phone is better than an Android.. i don't think they have what it takes to go head to head with Apple yet, let google draw people away from Apple and you take they people away from android.. take a chunk out of the people considering android..
      doctorSpoc
      • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

        @doctorSpoc

        Exactly, they have already had the Grand Opening with the billions of dollars worth of advertising spent, it just seems like next to no-one cared and Microsoft will have to keep on plugging away to try to make WP a success.
        Nickkuk
    • I think they're waiting for the CDMA version to be released

      @GoodThings2Life
      Though I wonder what that says about what they fell about AT&T, who was the first US carrier to get the WP7?
      AllKnowingAllSeeing
      • RE: When does Windows Phone 7 get its grand opening?

        @AllKnowingAllSeeing
        I think they are waiting for someone at Microsoft to come up with a vision and an original idea...
        prof123