So, Microsoft has unveiled its Windows Phone 7 platform. And I have to say that there are some pretty impressive aspects to it. That said, I can think of five good reasons for NOT being an early adopter of the platform.
- First generation anything is ropey Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft rebooting its mobile platform. While I have no doubt that the OS and handsets have seen plenty of testing, there's a huge gulf between controlled lab testing and real-world use. Don't believe me? One word - Antennagate. Remember, buy a WP7 handset now on contract and you're stuck with it for 18 - 24 months. That's a heck of a long time, and more than enough time for the second generation platform to emerge. A first-gen OS on first-gen hardware ... pass.
- Wait for the app store to mature One of the biggest draws of the iPhone is the huge and mature app store. It's a massive hit. While Microsoft does have an app store for the WP7 platform, it's pretty sparse compared to the Apple App Store. Microsoft's done a fine job of strong-arming some of the big names into its app store, especially big gaming names, but in my experience the appeal of a good app store is the myriad of little apps from small developers. The key to getting a vibrant app store is having plenty of developers willing to take a chance on the platform.
- Wait for the herd to thin down Microsoft has done a really good job of getting as many OEMs on board with WP7. Problem is, the market right now seems overcrowded with handsets. I'm certain that a year from now there will be fewer players in the game and we'll have a much better idea of who has the decent WP7 handsets (HTC?), and who's just in it for the attention (Dell?). I'd wait and see who's really committed to the WP7 platform.
- WP7 could still flop Just because there are a bunch of tech pundits all gushing over the new platform doesn't mean that it will be an automatic success. Remember, many of these pundits are the same folks who said that the iPad was gonna be a flop. The real test is what consumers make of it, and as of late consumers have been pretty harsh on Microsoft hardware. KIN collapsed and died almost right off the starting blocks, while Zune has shuffled along like an arthritic tortoise with asthma.
- There's still the question of Microsoft's commitment to the platform Over the years Microsoft has made a lot of promises relating to mobile market and how its products are going to change the way we work. So far, Microsoft hasn't been able to deliver on these promises, and one of the reasons why is that Microsoft was never really committed to mobile. Now look at WP7. Sure, it's a nice OS, but not only are there missing features (cut/copy/paste just being one), but there's bound to be bugs galore. Also, there's probably scope for Microsoft to add more features to existing handsets. Now the question is, having already sold you a license for WP7, will Microsoft be all that committed to the idea of providing incremental OS updates above and beyond just your normal bug fixes? Or will Microsoft be more focused on selling users a new handset with WP8 on it?
Lots of questions, and only time will bring answers to them. Six months from now we'll have a better idea where the platform is headed. A year from now it'll be clear whether the reboot was successful.