Is "social sharing" enough to separate Windows Phone 7 from the iPhone?

Is "social sharing" enough to separate Windows Phone 7 from the iPhone?

Summary: There's a lot of Windows Phone 7 information flowing out of MIX10. One of the key features of the Windows Phone 7 being pushed is "social sharing." The idea being that unlike the iPhone, a Windows Phone 7 handset will become the hub for all your social interactions.


There's a lot of Windows Phone 7 information flowing out of MIX10. One of the key features of the Windows Phone 7 being pushed is "social sharing." The idea being that unlike the iPhone, a Windows Phone 7 handset will become the hub for all your social interactions.

Now, before you all point out to me that you can Facebook and Twitter using your iPhone, I know, but your access to your social network via the iPhone is through a disparate selection of apps. What Microsoft seems to be doing with Windows Phone 7 is create a platform that allows you to seamlessly interact with your entire social network using a unified platform.

And it's a good idea. After all, while Apple likes to appear as hip and "with" the latest trends, it isn't a company that's known for opening doors and creating platforms that third-parties can make use of without extreme levels of control-freakery getting in the way.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, maybe not ...

See, the problem here as I see it is that we (the tech users) have been waiting for years for Microsoft to finally see the light when it comes to mobile and actually deliver a platform that gives uses the cutting-edge tools they need for work and play. We've been waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Now, finally, Microsoft seems to be delivering what people want, but it's just too early to get excited. Why? Well, here are just a few reasons:

  • First, Microsoft moves with glacial speeds. Let's start off by acknowledging that Windows Phone 7 is a platform that's already some 18 months behind Apple, more if you measure maturity and support, and we're still months away from being able to buy handsets. Want more proof - well, the browser on Windows Phone 7 is based on IE7, not IE8. Sure, there's talk of some features being back-ported from IE8, and jokes that it could be called IE7.5, but it's still a step back.
  • Then there's what we can expect from Windows Phone 7 in the future. History is littered with products released by Microsoft that didn't become overnight successes and were then left to erode away in the hands of people who bought into the hype. It's not the Windows Phone 7 handset that you buy during the latter part of 2010 that matters, but how relevant and upgradable that handset will be a year or two down the line. Apple has managed to keep the iPhone platform stable enough over the years so that a first-gen handset is still relevant today, several hardware iterations later. Microsoft needs to assure potential buyers that it's building a platform that it will care for and nurture for years to come, not change or abandon on a whim.

Next -->

  • Integration with social media sounds like a good idea, but unless Windows Phone 7 sees regular updates to keep up with social media trends, it'll soon be kicked into the long grass and become irrelevant. While the iPhone model of developers pushing stand-alone apps to the platform might seem clumsy, it does mean that market forces pressurize third-parties to push out updates. So when Twitter adds a new feature, pretty soon all the Twitter clients makers have pushed out updates to support that new feature.
  • Is Microsoft using the Windows Phone 7 platform to try to control social media much in the same way the company used Internet Explorer to control the web? While Windows Phone 7 is unlikely to hold enough clout to allow Microsoft to do that, tight integration of social into the platform does pose the risk of stagnation if things aren't carefully managed. It all depends on how well and open the social hub will be.

It's clear to see that Windows Phone 7 shares a lot in common with the Zune, and I think that it will share another feature - of always being second to Apple and the iPhone platform. Why? Because it's a stab at what people want (not a stab in the dark, but still a stab) rather than a natural evolution. Everything that Apple has done with the iPod platform since the first iPods of 2001 has been building to the iPhone and the iPhone OS platform. Even tying Windows Phone 7 so closely to Zune is a gamble, given that Microsoft has had to give that platform shots from the defibrillator and mouth-to-mouth a few times to keep it going.

Finally, even Microsoft itself admits that Windows Phone isn't for everyone. I'll let my colleague Ed Bott explain:

According to one slide in Belfiore’s deck, the Windows Phone 7 design is aimed at a group they call “life maximizers.” In characteristic Microsoft fashion the design team has created a pair of “personas,” Anna and Miles, who are 38 years old, live just outside Chicago, have one child, are “busy personally and professionally” and are “settled rather than seeking.” If that sounds a lot like a typical Microsoft middle manager (except for the Chicago part), well… you might be right. But based on that description, this series of phones isn’t designed for teens or hipsters.

Ugh ... my takeaway from this is that Microsoft isn't going to go head-to-head with either the iPhone/Android (hipsters) or the Blackberry (dudes in suits like you might see in an IBM commercial) and is focusing on, well, Anna and Miles I guess ...

<< Home >>

Topics: iPhone, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Smartphones, Software, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I agree that...

    Microsoft will have to work really hard to keep their platform updated more and faster. They seem to lag way behind compared to Android. They just makes them look like they aren't as quick with the newest technologies/features. They need to get past the long cycles in between releases. That goes for all of their products besides the Windows platform. But, I think there might be a real good chance that they will do this with WP7S. It gives me hope when they say that this phone won't be for the business customer because I think that holds them back in relation to updates.

    I have to say that the phone looks very impressive to me. I especially like the shine to all of the menus. But, what I like the most is that font. HA! I know that is petty, but the Linux type font that permeates anything Apple or Linux just annoys me.
    Jared Neale
  • More Junk from MS

    Many of us don't care about "Social Media" or any of that BS. We update out Facebooks and that's it. Don't care about Twitter, think Foresquare is lame, etc.

    And I think the UI of this thing is HIDEOUS. But then again MS knows nothing about good design.
  • Apple marketing department hard at work!!

    [i]Make sure no one wants this Adrian and we'll make it
    well worth your while.[/i]

    If we use the "rules", as laid out by the Apple zealots, I'll have to remind you that you are not allowed to
    criticize anything about MS unless you make more money than MS does. So Adrian, unless the Apple marketing
    department is paying you billions of dollars a year, I'll have to remind you that your opinion doesn't count
    since you don't make enough money. That isn't my rule, that is straight from the Apple zealots.
    • What complete and utter nonsense.

      Obviously Grandma hasn't given you your binky today.
    • Waste a minute, Waste two

      Which is herby disputed by repetition and endorsement.

      Mind you I just ignore the idiots and... dammit.
    • Anyone know what the hell he's talking about? [nt]

    • Why did I even bother reading that?

      Can I have those minutes back please?
  • Glacial speed??

    Windows Phone 7 Series was rewritten from ground up! Plus MS was able to tie together their best assets: Xbox, Office, Zune, Windows Live, XNA, Silverlight and Visual studio, how is that glacial speed??
    • First, Glacial is a metaphor/hyperbolic

      so, no, it wasn't thousands of years in the making.

      But some may argue that all those great assets should have been tied
      together in 2008 rather than late 2010.
    • Well how about the fact that we will

      see the 4th generation of iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad long before WiMo 7 even makes it to market.
    • Glacial Speed

      Iphone's been out for about three years now.

      Question: How long did it take MS after the Ipod came out to produce the first Zune?

      And where does Zune stand compared to Ipod in terms of MP3 player market share today?
  • Vaporware.

    Dietrich T. Schmitz GNU/Linux Advocate
  • RE: Is social sharing enough to separate Windows Phone 7 from the iPho

    Yes it is. Windows Phone 7 looks absolutely wonderful and is going to bring a new paradigm to the mobile UI. I would love to get a Windows Phone 7 device but its going to depend heavily on the carrier rates. The phone price itself will be very minor, its whatever the carriers want to charge that will be the real kicker.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Umm no, MSFT UI is not a Paradigm shift.

      being 4 years late to the party is not setting the bar, it is an attempt to play catch up.
      • Yes it is from developer perspective, no other UI will match it period nt

    • Are you serious LR?

      This looks like a second rate Iphone. The only paradigm here is the one where Microsoft keeps trying to play catch-up to Apple. And it seems to be maintaining the status quo. Did they not learn anything from the losing battle they started with Zune?
  • Wouldn't you say that there was evolution, from the brick Zune...

    to the slimmer Zunes, to the HD, and now to a phone? Isn't that what Apple did?

    Other than that, I agree with your points.
  • Actually they were 10 years early

    @JM1981 10 years ago Windows Mobile was way ahead of its time and could do everything today's Android/iPhones could do. Back in 2002, if you wanted a touch screen phone that could play MP3s and movies... stream video, browse real websites, read eBooks, play games, manage calendar/contacts/tasks, edit Office documents. The only choice was Windows Mobile.
    • You are absolutely correct

      I still remember my Windows Mobile 2003 SE phone (Blue Angel/Siemens SX66) and it has a lot of good stuff than its competitors had. It all the nice features of modern smartphones except for Capacitive Touch.
      Ram U
      • Yep I had the O2 XDA

        Did everything and because it wasn't capacitive I could WRITE on it - something the iToy finger painters have never experienced.

        But then that's always Apple's mode of operation. Buy or copy someone else's work and then try and rewrite history to say they invented it. The Xerox Star, mp3 players, almost smart phones...