Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

Summary: Windows Phone 7 is a modern and functional operating system, but adoption seems to be rather slow. What can Microsoft do to engage consumers?

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Regular readers know I am a fan of the Windows Phone 7 operating system and after my post yesterday on a couple new WP7 devices I received an email from ZDNet reader Brandon Murray detailing why he thought WP7 is not selling well (his email is included below) and I have to say I agree with his opinion that it may be due to the Microsoft name and branding.

I remember years ago at a Mobius meeting with Microsoft when they told us that the Microsoft brand is a trusted, world wide brand and that this brand was one major reason they were going with the Windows Phone naming strategy. I personally enjoy using Microsoft products such as Windows 7, Exchange, Word, and Excel and since they are located here in Washington State I do have positive feelings about them and their contribution to our state. I have only heard friends and family slamming Microsoft for Vista, but otherwise people do seem happy with the brand. It seems that the Microsoft name is bashed in the press quite a bit to the point they make it sound like Microsoft is some evil entity whose only desire it to take over the world and that just isn't the case.

Back in 2000 when the first Pocket PC was launched we saw that Microsoft was trying to bring the desktop to a handheld device and for years we had devices with Start menus and a design like a small PC. The new Windows Phone 7 UI is completely different and I think Microsoft should have went with a totally new branding, as Brandon clearly points out too. Xbox is a very successful product for Microsoft, although their Zune is not so just having a different name for a product is not enough. Check out what Brandon had to say below:

In my opinion, WP7 isn't selling because of Microsoft. Specifically, the Microsoft brand. It's become so apparent the last few years that Microsoft might put out really cool stuff, but because they are Microsoft, those products are going to face a steep perception battle in the marketplace before they will be adopted.

Microsoft isn't sexy. Apple is smoking. Google is kinda sexy for geeks, but everyone likes what Google does for them. Microsoft is the old has-been who hangs around the bar talking about all the great things he did back in the 80s.

That's the perception. I think MS is doing great things even today--I'm a SharePoint architect and I love my WP7--but they have a significant branding problem because of that perception. I think MS recognizes this problem, and in order to combat it, they've lately been throwing the Microsoft and/or Windows name on their new, cool products: Microsoft Kin (big fail there), Windows 7, Windows Phone 7. With WP7 I think the idea is: make a cool phone OS that everyone loves, put the name Windows on it, and then the Windows brand will start regaining cool factor because of its association with the cool new phone.

The risk is obvious, though: when you try to resuscitate a declining brand by associating it with a cool new product, it's just as likely (if not more so) that the declining brand will drag the cool new product down with it and make it less cool.

As a final example, what's Microsoft's most successful new product (in the consumer space) for the past few years? Xbox. Not Windows Xbox or Microsoft Xbox. It's just Xbox in people's minds and it's sexy if you're a gamer.

Compare that to Windows Phone. A great platform with horrible branding. Apple is hot! Buy an iPhone. Google is cool! Buy an Android. Windows is XP! Buy a Windows Phone?

The current Windows Phone 7 devices are not on the cutting edge with specifications and many of the devices are modified 2010 hardware. Then again, many of today's modern smartphones are black slabs and consumers likely don't know or care about all of the internal specs so I think there is something going on more than just having Windows Phone 7 on last year's hardware.

If they handle the partnership with Nokia the right way they have a chance to reach millions of Nokia fans with a modern OS, but I think they need to market and sell it in a compelling manner to succeed without turning off all of these Nokia fans. So, what can Microsoft do to convince people to give Windows Phone 7 devices a try?

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

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  • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

    My thoughts on lack of Window 7 adoption:
    1. No Flash 10.x mobile (same as S^3).
    2. The only company less "Open" over the years than MS has been Apple. MS may be trying to fix that, but Android is.
    3. Multi-tasking isn't there yet on WP7.
    4. No OTA updates.
    5. MS typically charges a pretty penny for their Desktop Software. What makes us think they won't do the same for WP7 and beyond Apps?
    6. No tethering
    I understand some of these issues may be fixed in next WP (Mango) version, but I am not sure MS will be open (will they allow tethering if Verizon and AT&T tell them not to?).
    The above reasons are ones that concern me. May not matter to others, but I think they may matter more to current Nokia owners and it may be problem MS has in winning over converts.
    jkohut
    • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

      @jkohut: Windows Phone 7. Windows 7 has none of those problems.

      Regarding number 5. You know how much Apple charges for it's software? A fortune. It won't happen. The market won't allow it.
      bradavon
      • Man you are a complete <inserr word here>

        @bradavon It takes about 5 seconds to compare the price of Apple software to MS software.

        I think that $29 vs $200 for an OS upgrade (retail, non-OEM) and $80 vs $400 for an office suite should give you a clue.
        wackoae
      • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

        @wackoae You have to look at the type of OS upgrade, def between windows verisons huge, differents between Mac OS X very small like a big service pack
        andrew35133
  • Message has been deleted.

    browser.
    • Nonsense

      @browser.
      Speaking of photocopiers, I see yours is functioning adequately, as yours is just a rehash of the standard, false propaganda that those like you repeat time, and time again.
      :|
      Tim Cook
      • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

        @Mister Spock Dont get me wrong... I use all the technologies available for me. I love my Windows 7 install, like a lot of what Google does and absolutely love my Macbook pro and iPad. I dont own an iPhone just because I do not like to carry multiple phones and RIM has shoven a crapberry down my throat. But I am sure you would agree with me that MS sat on their laurels and deserve where they are with WP7. It almost makes Steve Jobs right. They were 5 years ahead when they released the original iPhone. You can see those features in WP 7 after 5 years and in a crapberry never!
        browser.
      • Of course...

        Mr. faux pointy ears won't tell you why you're wrong. That would be illogical.

        :)
        ScorpioBlue
      • Apple was patient...

        @Mister Spock :

        No false propaganda. Apple was patient and slowly developed the ecosystem. They started small, but rev up as soon as they had the tools there.

        Microsoft, on the other hand, first dissed Apple and sat there just watching. Then they reacted too slow with a platform that's skin deep. Only the UI (not the UX) people did their homework. Down below it's rusty and undependable. That's the real reason for the upgrades delays. Mango's gonna be even worse, as they are changing the framework to support multitasking. Combine that and a retooled browser and you have a nightmarish situation. WP8, well that's an even riskier situation as nobody has tested the Windows NT kernel with low power, low performance chips.

        Trust me. This is no false propaganda.
        cosuna
      • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

        @cosuna
        Speaking of skin deep, I'm sick of hearing negative things about the pre-iPhone Windows Mobile 2003/5/6. iPhone was 5 years ahead? Don't make me laugh! As an operating system WM6.5 kicks the pants off any of the other 'modern' mobile OSes.

        Multitasking - check
        Copy-paste - (is that even a real feature????) check
        Multimedia - check
        Customisable interface - check
        Task Manager - check
        GPS - check
        Exchange/Outlook integration - check
        Network suppoort - check
        Open platform - check
        Touchscreen interface - check
        Bluetooth Serial - check
        Backwards compatibility - check

        I'm tired of listing features - I'm going to stop.....

        Windows Mobile ALWAYS had these things. It is the world that has gone mad - not Microsoft! They are just TRYING to give the bunch of 'know-it-all' eejits what they are clamouring for! But alas they are used to making REAL software you see.....?

        You want to know why WP7 is not doing so well? Why exactly would business be interested in a toy phone with no useful features and 0 backwards compatibilty? It's gonna be Blackberry or RIM or Nokia and if you have a loud team of execs and sales force, they will probably all have iPhones (for no other reason than because it's shiny and everyone else has one).
        12312332123
      • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

        @ Traxxion: How can you say "all modern" operating systems? Android has everything on your list and more.<br><br>Windows Mobile always was powerful but the interface and complicated nature of it stank. Take the keyboard for example, it was absolutely minute.<br><br>Setting up bluetooth really shouldn't be that complicated, hidden or in so many menus.
        bradavon
      • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

        @ bradavon
        "How can you say "all modern" operating systems? Android has everything on your list and more."

        Well Android is at least a fairly open platform and the line is fuzzier. Personally, I think Windows Mobile is better, albeit marginally and I don't accept people bashing something that they do not understand. I'm merely pointing out that there are no real advances being offered by these other OSes (especially the pathetic iPhone) and that MS do not deserve the absolute torrent of stupidity that surrounds us. Those slating Windows Mobile for being 'outdated' should take a look at their history - end of.

        I was tempted to buy an Android device this time around, but after my wife bought a Samsung Galaxy, I have opted to buy a 1GHZ snapdragon WM6.5 device instead. Android is still quite buggy and does not offer me the experience I am used to. Maybe next time.....

        I haven't had any real difficulties with bluetooth. I think its menu placement in Settings->Bluetooth is fairly straight forward??? On Android you have to dig through ream of icons for almost every individual setting since it does not have a proper settings menu, so I fail to see your point? or at least I beg to differ.....



        Windows Mobile always was powerful but the interface and complicated nature of it stank. Take the keyboard for example, it was absolutely minute.

        Setting up bluetooth really shouldn't be that complicated, hidden or in so many menus. bradavon
        12312332123
    • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

      @browser. its hardly behind. Yes it lacks some features. After using WP7 for about half a year i wouldnt go back to Android.

      Not willing to go to the iPhone cause i cant stand apple. And their whole brand image. By no means its not an old OS. It does what it says it does and does it very well. Ive use a Galaxy S for a week few weeks ago and eventually gave it away to my gf cause i still prefer WP7 because it gets things done for me faster and i prefer the sleep consistent UI
      evolutionqy7
    • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

      @browser. <br><br>Hey iNaive, when Mango comes out it will blow your iOSCrap (and droid OS for that matter) out of the water. How about an HTML5 browser thats 20 times faster than your crappy mobile safari??? Yeah, IE 9.<br>How about a phone with a new sleek, ultra responsive, super stable, UI , and not a windows 95 set of icons like your itrash?<br>How about the BEST outlook/exchange experience on mobile?<br>How about office 365 with skydrive built into the oS ?<br>How about xbox game integration and awesome games?<br>How about tethering?<br>How about integated shazam (bing audio) and bing vision?<br>How about turn by turn voice guided gps?<br>How about Netflix???? (sorry Android users)<br>How about better multiasking than what you iphone can do?<br>How about easier coding for developers than what your ios has? - (which eventually will equal better apps for wp7)<br>How about a phone that can integrate with social networking natively, and have chat natively (no app launching required)<br>How about the ability to choose your hardware to suite your needs, and not be locked into one phone like your iphone???<br>And there are many others I can't think of right now.....<br><br>People like you are WHY WINDOWS PHONE 7 IS HAVING A HARD TIME ENTERING INTO THE CONSUMER MINDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<br>Especially after Mango, if consumers still refuse to adopt the platform, then they DEFINITELY are iNaive, OR they have a serious perception issue. Because it WON'T be from lack of features.<br><br>I'm getting tired of the ignorance in some people.
      mikroland
      • Please don't get tired...

        @mikroland : after mango, after mango...<br><br>So you, and the WP people think Google and Apple are going to stay put until Mango.<br><br>Let's knock down all your claims:<br>- Fast browser. Mmmh. Not. IE9 is fast using 45W GPUs. Not on PowerVR.<br>- New sleek, ultra responsive, super stable UI. Nahh. Add multitasking to a sandboxed CLR framework and you'r gonna have JIT nightmares. On ARM? Yeah right. Check out the compact framework programs for Windows Mobile to get the truth.<br>- BEST outlook/exchange experience. Well, yes, if you have Exchange 2010. Else it's OWA, just like iPhone and Android.<br>- Office 365. You mean the one that was down. The one that only support OOXML and hiccups with OpenDocument. The one that depends on SkyDrive. The one that cannot open more than one document on Hotmail. The one that failed when it was called Docs.com<br>- XBox gaming. Wow. Using what Cell processor? Or do you mean in MANAGED XNA using the JIT. iPhone games are native C++ or Objective C. Direct metal. Even MonoTouch compiles directly. Same with Unity. Apple does not allow it any other way.<br> <br>Should I go on...<br><br>Please get your Technical facts straight then post. Else, Mango is just like "Copland" or "Pink" or "Workplace OS", those wonderful follow up OS by Apple and IBM which were just vaporware.
        cosuna
      • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

        @mikroland
        <i>Especially after Mango, if consumers still refuse to adopt the platform, then they DEFINITELY are iNaive, OR they have a serious perception issue. Because it WON'T be from lack of features.</i>

        And that?s the way to win friend and influence people? If they don?t run right out and buy the phone you choose they are stupid? Remember Microsoft had a phone that touted it was a ?social? phone, the name was Kin. We all know how well that worked out? The one that has serious perception issues is Microsoft. They over promised, and under delivered. Is there anyone with any cognitive ability, that cannot see the reason that WP7SOS phones are not selling well? Apple activated more iPhones on Verizon in <b>Six weeks</b> than WP7SOS phones have since it was launched. That in itself is very telling of how the general public feels about WP7SOS phones. If sales were going as well as some on here think, Microsoft would be taking out full page ads proclaiming how great it was. Microsoft?s only safe bet is to give away free stuff, to entice people to buy the phones. Maybe give away an xbox, and a Windows 7 PC, to anyone that buys a phone.
        Rick_K
      • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

        @mikroland
        oh, so AFTER mango.

        Like- "if people still refuse to vote Republican, then they DEFINITELY are iNaive, OR they have a serious perception issue. ".Imagine if a company like Chrysler said: "if consumers still refuse to adopt our car, then they DEFINITELY are iNaive, OR they have a serious perception issue. ".
        in other words 'it's the consumers fault they're not buying us (they are to blame) because we did everything right (it's not our fault)'. That's great for a chuckle.
        It's not our job or responsibility to buy WP7. Your brain is scattered- try to collect yourself. With WP7 zealots like yourself, I also see why the platform is having difficulty.

        Like they say in sports- check the scoreboard.

        Should be called WP1 since it's a brand new platform.
        bonzo99
    • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

      @browser.
      "still they cannot COPY them properly"

      Who cares, honestly I've had my HD7 for a month, and I've only used copy and paste feature a few times. Heck, the only time I use copy and paste is when I'm researching for something, and I'd never do anything like that on a small mobile device. Smart phones are content consuming devices not made for a computer replacement.
      mgaul
      • RE: Is the Microsoft brand helping or hurting Windows Phone 7?

        @mgaul
        I think you missed his point. He?s saying that Microsoft didn?t copy the iPhone from 2007 in late 2010. It was the Windows fanboys that made a big deal over cut, copy, and paste. For two years they made a big deal about the iPhone not having it. When WP7SOS was released without that very same feature, suddenly it was not a big deal. In reality it was never a big deal, but that did not stop them from making a mountain out of a molehill. What you are seeing is the tables being turned on the people that companied about the iPhone. THere were people that made a big deal about jailbroken iPhone being bricked by an iOS update, yet they wanted to give Microsoft a pass when ?No Do? bricked normal WP7SOS phones. These very same people complained that it was Apple?s fault that an update bricked modified iPhones, yet it was Samsung?s fault that a Microsoft update bricked non modified WP7SOS phones.
        Rick_K
    • Choke Point.

      @browser,

      <a href=http://www.zdnet.com/tb/1-97468-1880112?tag=talkback-river;1_97468_1880112>MS' main choking point appears to be sales at stores</a>. MS needs to ensure that very slick pre-configured WP7 phones (that include full, rich information about one of several pre-set users, as well as several great looking apps) are made available to stores. MS should also have salespersons compete to sell the most WP7 every month in stores, in order to win rewards. This should not only drive sales, but induce salespersons to learn more about and better appreciate WP7 devices.
      P. Douglas