Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

Summary: The former GM of Windows Phone wonders why the mobile OS hasn't been a hit. He missed a few reasons like timing, peer pressure and issues like Android forks the user doesn't care about.

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Former Windows Phone general manager Charlie Kindel ruminates on how a "superior" product like Microsoft's mobile OS hasn't taken off. He then goes into the Windows Phone and advantages.

However, Kindel's post misses a few key points. Kindel talks about how carrier, handset maker and software companies all have dueling interests. All of that's true, but Windows Phone suffers from a few near fatal flaws.

  • First, there's timing. MG Siegler noted that Windows Phone is simply too late. It is barring some Nokia miracle. Windows Phone allowed Android to run. All you need is a little computing history to know that the best OS doesn't always win. It's clear that the Mac OS was better than Windows 3.1 in almost every way. Microsoft got the distribution and the rest is history. Android is the newfangled Windows 3.1.
  • The end user doesn't give a crap about forks. He only cares about that OS on his phone. We're not looking to save the tech industry. Android is forked. So what? I have a Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the experience is good and Android won't be horribly forked for too much longer. The Android device isn't the iPhone 4S---there's a new one of those in the family---but it's not too shabby.
  • Microsoft hasn't given me a reason to covet a Windows Phone device. The tiles are nice. I like the simplicity. The app selection isn't bad. However, I still don't know why I need a Windows Phone device. Missing the LTE window for Windows Phone is huge. LTE on Verizon is the reason I'm in the Android camp. It's really that simple.
  • Peer pressure. Robert Scoble added that no one is talking about Windows Phone. Microsoft could have called it the Xphone and it may have had a hit. The crystallizing view on Windows Phone came a few months ago from Howard Stern of all people. A listener called in wanting a Sirius XM app for Windows Phone. Stern asked why since no one used it. Stern likened Windows Phone to the Jews for Jesus folks at Penn Station---a small group that just wanted attention. For Windows Phone to be a hit a posse of people need to take the first leap. All the cool kids have Android devices and iPhones.

It's not impossible for Windows Phone to turn it around, but it won't be easy. Bad timing, technical arguments and peers telling you you're bonkers aren’t a good recipe for success.

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Topics: Software, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Telcos, Windows

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116 comments
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  • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

    I agree. Advertising has been poor for WP7 devices. Only in the last few weeks has Nokia shown how to do it. Will be an interesting year ahead for WP7 and I hope it gets better as I have used all 3 OS and I much prefer WP7.
    jhughesy
    • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

      @jhughesy here in Malaysia and in much of the region, there is virtually no mention of windows phone...iPhone of course and blackberry in close competition, along with HTC and Samsung.
      Too bad for Microsoft if they don't get the word out...their problem and their responsibility.
      Bradish@...
  • Typo

    I think you meant "all the [i]cool[/i] kids" in your last bullet point above.
    messageken
  • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

    Just got the new iPhone 4S and am loving it. Really fast. No typos (the keyboard's speed and accuracy has really improved) and Siri is a total godsend. Dictate text and emails via bluetooth while I am driving. 100% accuracy! Love this phone and all the new apps!
    The Danger is Microsoft
    • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

      @The Danger is Microsoft
      Sounds about the exact same experience I have with my Windows Phone. Minus a few things Siri can do and plus a few things Siri can't do! I think in time people will start noticing. I already have a bunch of people ask me about my phone and none of them knew much at all about it and many think its still old Windows Mobile. A new name would have helped that problem some, but most carriers are only pushing a 2 horse race right now except for outside the U.S. where Windows Phone is getting more traction.
      OhTheHumanity
      • The name? Seriously?

        @OhTheHumanity ... WP7 was years late to the market. It is yet another Apple-Did-It-We-Need-One-Too product. Zune Phone.

        Plus, people don't buy OS's. They buy products. Devices. This isn't the PC market circa 1995.

        And the most important reason; Apple has earned the trust of consumers by building great looking, just-works, well designed, reliable, crash-free great products. Microsoft has not earned that trust because they aren't building great products.

        Samsung handset with an OS from another vendor? What the hell is that? Again, this isn't the PC market circa 1995.

        If you're going to make a phone, make a phone. Or give the OS away for free to anyone who wants to put it in a phone and try monetizing it some other way.

        In my opinion, Microsoft should stick to Windows and Office, fire everyone else, triple the dividend.
        HollywoodDog
      • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

        @HollywoodDog [i]Apple has earned the trust of consumers by building great looking, just-works, well designed, reliable, crash-free great products.[/i]

        Ok seriously... How much do they pay you to write this drivel? I could certainly use some extra cash. It's hard to find more BS than the politicians are pushing these days, but you've actually done it! Congrats!
        Badgered
      • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

        @Badgered - What you fail to see is that he is right. Your pithy response does nothing to help WP7 or 8 now does it?
        The Danger is Microsoft
      • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

        @The Danger is Microsoft [i]What you fail to see is that he is right. Your pithy response does nothing to help WP7 or 8 now does it?[/i]

        Right about Apple's products being perfect, just works, never crashes? ROFLMAO

        http://forums.techarena.in/operating-systems/1436348.htm

        No, it does nothing to help WP7 or 8. So glad you noticed that.
        Badgered
      • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

        @OhTheHumanity & HollywoodDog.

        Actually, many people buy illusions. People bought into Apple because it was the outsider. More people then bought into Apple because it was different and was "cool" vs. the then somewhat staid and "boring" phones available at the time. Then an iPhone was as much a fashion statement as it was a 'device'.

        Similarly for Android: it was the "little guy", the "outsider", with greater flexibility and choice vs. Apple's "one-device-to-rule-them-all" approach. Then it became "cool" (particularly in geek circles).

        Importantly, both iPhone and Android have been marketed like crazy this last 18-24 months in particular. I think there's a direct correlation between the growth of these devices and the degree of marketing applied.

        THAT is what Microsoft, carriers and OEM's need to get right this year: I believe that they kept the volume turned down low until they were in a position to compete well. Mango is the first Windows Phone OS release that is truly competitive with iOS and 'droid. MS are working on Tango which will add LTE and east Asian language support, and Apollo which is another major OS release built atop the Win8 kernel. In 2012, Apollo may well leapfrog iOS and 'droid, both of which have remained pretty stagnant this last 12 months.

        We already know that 2012 is the year Nokia plans on releasing a swathe of new devices (including hints of a tablet or two!). And Samsung and HTC are starting to incur serious costs and legal issues with 'droid. I wonder if this year they'll start to focus more effort on Windows Phone devices in order to minimize their homogenization and legal issues.

        MS are still a fair way behind the competition at this point but I think the game is FAR from over.
        bitcrazed
      • I can't understand how people believe this

        @OhTheHumanity ... "I think there's a direct correlation between the growth of these devices and the degree of marketing applied."

        If you have a great product of any kind and nobody knows it exists, it won't sell.

        But you can't "market" an inferior product to the lead, all other things being equal.

        Being first to market is a big deal. Having a great product is a big deal. Being a well designed product is a big deal.

        The cumulative effect of these big deals is to allow you to charge premium pricing.

        Premium pricing is why Apple with 15% market share makes more money off their product, very likely, than all the competitors combined.

        To believe that 'marketing' can trump everything else and make a success out of a failed product is magical thinking.
        HollywoodDog
      • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

        @Hollywood dog
        iPhone - reliable? Please explain how a gps chip and mute switch only lasting 14 months is 'reliable'. Oh and the marvellous, wonderful Apple didn't care a stuff.
        TKR1
  • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

    IMHO some of it is advertising, some of it is a perception of Microsoft products (Vista anyone?), and some of it is that salespeople are guiding people towards the Android and iOS offerings. In my case it was that WP7 was not compatible with the work order system we have at work (when I replaced my BB with an Samsung Galaxy S).
    athynz
  • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

    Your reference around Mac OS and Win 3.1 is interesting. But, the Xbox was released at least a year after Playstation 2 and Dreamcast and critics said for years that it didn't stand a chance. Ten years later it is the best-selling console.

    So it is just a matter of continuous improvement and innovation, because the race is never over, unless the company goes out of business, which almost happened to Apple. I hope the big companies stay strong for a long while, because no matter what you prefer, competition is very healthy for the consumers buying the products.
    lcenterprises
    • The Xbox

      @lcenterprises

      Shows that MS can stay in the game long term and fight it out. I hope they do the same with WP.
      LiquidLearner
      • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

        @LiquidLearner

        Microsoft succeeding with XBox doesn't mean much Liquid. You would think Microsoft's success with XBox and XBox Live would somehow cease the erosion of the Internet Explorer user base. And yet, Chrome now has more users than IE8 (the version of IE with the most users). Beyond that, MS is losing about $2 billion a year on its online division which includes Bing and there's no light at the end of the tunnel any time soon.
        betelgeuse68
      • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

        @betelgeuse68 "You would think Microsoft's success with XBox and XBox Live would somehow cease the erosion of the Internet Explorer user base."

        What relevance does Xbox and Xbox Live have with IE? None! Xbox Live doesn't have a web browser. Web browsers on video game consoles sucks. So I'm not sure how you figure Xbox is supposed to do anything for IE, when it doesn't have IE.
        jhammackHTH
      • jhammackHTH, I was thinking the same thing. It appears that the XBox

        @LiquidLearner
        has eroded the Play Station user base, yet betelgeuse68 did not mention that.
        As for Phones, I agree, what does IE have to do with XBox live?
        Tim Cook
      • The Xbox is the exception...

        ...not the rule.

        Learn to know the difference, Mr. Pointy Ears.
        ScorpioBlue
      • RE: Windows Phone handwringing: 'Best' product doesn't (won't) win

        @ScorpioBlue

        Yeah, its the rule if you conveniently forget to mention...

        Windows (heard of it?)
        Office
        Visual [ANYTHING]
        Microsoft Games
        Microsoft Sidewinder
        Microsoft IntelliMouse
        Kinect
        Microsoft Sharepoint
        Microsoft [ANYTHING] Server

        Thanks for the laugh though, seriously....
        12312332123