WP7 and the F-word

WP7 and the F-word

Summary: No, not THAT F-word! Or that one. And definitely not that other one you're thinking of! The F-word that I'm see increasingly being linked with Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 7 handset is "Failure." But can WP7 be called a failure so early on? Let's take a look at what we know and what we don't know.

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No, not THAT F-word! Or that one. And definitely not that other one you're thinking of! The F-word that I'm see increasingly being linked with Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 7 handset is "Failure." But can WP7 be called a failure so early on? Let's take a look at what we know and what we don't know.

First things first. There's an information vacuum as far as Microsoft is concerned. There's nothing official coming out of Redmond regarding WP7. Compare this with the Kinect, a hands-free controller for the Xbox 360, where we treated to press releases for both the 1 million in 10 days and 2.5 million in 25 days milestones. Microsoft likes to boast when things are going well. The absence of press releases boasting about sales leads people to wonder whether sales are, so far at any rate, less than stellar.

But isn't no news, good news? Well, yes, but only when there's no news. We're now starting to get retailers and carriers coming out with information to support the idea that WP7 is struggling.

First off, UK retailer MobilesPlease.co.uk revealed that WP7 "got off to a sluggish start," accounting for 3% of smartphone sales and a little under 2% of overall sale. Symbian^3 handsets outsold Windows 7 Phones by 3 to 1 (with Symbian^3 sales consisting almost entirely of Nokia N8), while Android outsold WP7 by a whopping 15 to 1.

But its hardly surprising that Symbian^3 and Android are outselling WP7, given the brand recognition that these established players have. And as MobilesPlease.co.uk points out, there's little to differentiate WP7 from Android:

The windows phone 7 handsets -as nice as they are – are by and large generic phones from well known manufacturers, and in most cases an almost identical model is available from the same manufacturer with Android,  and given the choice people seem to be picking Android.

But it gets worse. Australian carriers Telstra and Vodafone have admitted that sales are slow, with another unnamed carrier saying that sales are "disappointing."

A Telstra executive told ChannelNews that sales were "weak" and that demand for other phones including Blackberry, iPhone and HTC Android devices were in high demand. 

Again, it's only a month down the line for WP7, but Microsoft did pour millions of dollars into the launch which one might have expected to have stimulated more interest.

And then there are the 2-for-1 deals for WP7 handsets. Fire sale already, or just Holiday season craziness? Hard to tell.

Launching a new product is more a marathon than it is a sprint, in which case there has to be a level of pacing to be able to keep an eye on the long game. But given the volume of new products being launched, combined with the Holiday silly season, products have less time than ever to get a foothold. If consumers don't embrace WP7, then developers won't invest the time, but without solid developer support, many consumers won't buy into the new platform, so that creates a Catch-22 situation where Microsoft ends up having to pour money into the project to keep it buoyed until a critical mass is achieved ... which isn't guaranteed.

There are also plenty of rumors surrounding the highly anticipated update to WP7, coming January. Rumor has it that it will be huge ... maybe. But again, without a healthy user base, developers will be wary of investing too much energy in the platform. And without developers making cool apps, power users will choose a more established ecosystem.

While I think it's unlikely that the WP7 will go the same way KIN did (dead, only to later reanimate be resurrected as a lower-cost, lower-featured Frankenphone that surely will only be available for a limited period), but it could very well join the ranks of the Zune.

Personally, I think that it's far too early to start using the F-word with relation to WP7. That said, if the platform fails to gain good market traction over the Holidays, Microsoft will undoubtedly need to pump more money and effort into promotion, and be content with scrabbling at the lower end of the market share for the foreseeable future.

Topics: Software Development, Android, Enterprise Software, Google, Microsoft, Mobility

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98 comments
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  • To early to tell

    First of all, I find it weird that people associate B1G1F with failure. If anything it's a great way to upgrade two people for the price of one phone. I've always noticed at least one handset OEM offering this kind of deal. <br><br>Second, Microsoft did admit that it was an uphill battle, so anyone judging it one month down the line are being quite unfair. Also, it's not like Microsoft having a mobile OS is a bad thing, I know you want them to fail, but this also benefits us, the consumer. <br><br>I personally think Windows Mobile (I refuse to call it "Phone") has great potential. I've always been a fan of the Metro UI since buying my Zune, and would love to see it live on on a phone, and hopefully one day, a tablet device. It feels more natural to use and look at than what everyone else has out there.<br>If they can keep at it, and are able to put the naysayers to rest (Copy and paste, etc...) WM should do just fine.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Agreed...

      It is far too early to start throwing out any terms like "failure" or "success". That time will come a year from now when the Windows Phone will either be steadily gaining market share or following the path of the Kin. It really could go either way at this point. I'm not a big fan of smart phones in general, but personally I don't like the WP7 interface. It's just, well, boxy. Aesthetics aside, if it is functional people will buy it. It could certainly gain solid acceptance in the enterprise with tight Exchange integration. Blackberry currently has a strong foothold in that vertical, but RIM has suffered some dings in its reputation over service outages in the past and I don't generally hear Blackberry users gushing over Exchange integration.
      jasonp@...
    • But it isn't too early for the FUD

      @Cylon Centurion 0005
      F:ear U:ncertainty D:oubt

      That is [b]exactly[/b] what this article is written as. It can't actually come out and provide any real facts because there aren't any but it can make anyone reading this think twice about getting a phone that is otherwise getting really good reviews.
      NonZealot
      • Adrian, isn't creating the FUD.

        @NonZealot Anyone who's thinking twice about a WP7 surely has Kin on their mind. That's hardly Adrian's fault. There certainly [i]is[/i] uncertainty, but it's coming from Redmond. The example of crowing about Kinect numbers while keeping mum on WP7, ostensibly a much bigger project, only draws attention to the fact. He's spot on there. As for doubt, well again, Microsoft is generating that for themselves. Earlier this week we were told that WP7 has 3000 apps and 15000 developers, so MS certainly doesn't mind playing the numbers game. If that's the case, why not bring up sales figures? That makes me doubt that they're very good.

        So, yet again, while you correct in the narrow sense that there is indeed a great deal of FUD surrounding WP7, what you miss is the real issue of who's actually responsible for it. Adrian gets a pass on this one, its the Softies who are guilty!
        matthew_maurice
      • Strange for a NonZealot

        Seems to get pretty worked up with stories about WP7;-)<br><br>Quote from Telstra in story confirms what everyone knows, WP7 has had little impact. Which is hardly surpassing, generic hardware with barely distinguishable lipstick (and joke of information panels).
        Richard Flude
      • RE: WP7 and the F-word

        @NonZealot : What else could you expect from the loser blogger who is paid by Apple?
        nomorebs
      • Hold on...

        @NonZealot I don't think Adrian's article is particularly negative.

        He's pointing out some very valid points and then counterbalancing them with alternate explanations.

        I want WP7 to succeed, but it can't do that if everyone is plugging their ears and going "la la la la...".
        TheWerewolf
    • WP7: Failure is already clear

      We know that Windows Phone 7 has sold badly.

      What magic trick is Microsoft going to pull out of its hat to resuscitate and save Windows Phone 7?

      Seriously. What's Microsoft going to do next? It just spent $500 million on marketing it, but that didn't work. Should it spend another $500 million? Will that do it?

      The original iPhone only cost $150 million to bring to market. Microsoft is probably spending 7x that on WP7 marketing.
      Vbitrate
      • RE: WP7 and the F-word

        @gyepera
        paulusm
    • RE: WP7 and the F-word

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 As much as I do not like the UI I have to agree with you - it's far too early to determine if WP7 is a failure or not... and as far as the B1G1F deal the original Droid was sold like that as well at one point and there are those who love that device.
      athynz
    • FUD by bloggers

      @Cylon Centurion 0005

      Since they have no facts, FUD will suffice.

      Here's a fact, I bought 4 for myself and my company. Best thing I've done and the best phone I've ever had or used (which includes Android and iPhone).

      There's a simple way to slice through all the bs. Use one, try it out and if you don't think the WP7 is the most elegant phone and UI ever seen up til now then you really are an ABMer - take the test ;-)

      My Mozart is lighter, more powerful, more business oriented and so much more fun to use than an iPhone. It's the difference between a tool and a toy.

      I like the dynamic tiles, but obviously some people prefer the dated crowded desktop look.

      However, if you haven't used one STFU. If you've used one and don't like it then by all means say why, but the uniformed rubbish posts that accumulate here are driven by jealousy and a justified fear that Windows phones are just better.
      tonymcs@...
      • RE: WP7 and the F-word

        @tonymcs@... <br><i>There's a simple way to slice through all the bs. Use one, try it out and if you don't think the WP7 is the most elegant phone and UI ever seen up til now then you really are an ABMer - take the test</i><br><br>It's not - it's fugly, plain and simple. <br>Huge-a$$ tiles that convey little information are not good.<br>Cutting off titles that use HUGE fonts is not good design.<br>The lack of features of the OS is a huge oversight. Could you imagine anyone coming out with a phone now missing them?<br>The OS is just not that good.<br>Sorry, WP7 is a turkey. Those that like it are huge MS shills or on Steve Ballmer's payroll.
        itguy08
      • RE: WP7 and the F-word

        @tonymcs@... So you know, ABM=always buy microsoft
        lelandhendrix@...
  • A Bit too early

    God this new comment system is buggy.

    MS is coming in at a serious disadvantage in mindset but 80% of cellphone users are still available targets for some smartphone OS. Likewise, if you look at Android's first month of sales with the G1, it was less than blockbuster.

    WP7 is a pretty decent phone OS with a well thought out UI and not only that, it is fast and fluid. By that, I mean iPhone fast and fluid and not the slow as molases Android. That part really impressed me.

    Give it a year and I suspect they will be in the 5%-9% smartphone market share and that is not bad for coming so late to the party.
    Bruizer
    • RE: &quot;slow as molases Android&quot;

      @Bruizer

      ah, no. Wrongo! My HTC DEsire with Froyo flies. Not to take anything away from the iPhone which is also very impressive, but I struggle to believe you've spent quality time with a recent Android device.
      rikasa
      • Are the Droid X and Droid Incredible with 2.2 &quot;recent&quot;

        @rikasa

        They are both slow as molasses. Swipes lag by 500-700 ms on the basic home screens Android offers. There is a general lack of rapid feedback when touch events are pressed. This is on the "as delivered" states.

        Both iOS and WP7 give near instantaneous feedback to user events.
        Bruizer
      • RE: WP7 and the F-word

        @rikasa

        Do you have autokill running? Have you stripped the default processes that come with it? Because I can tell you his statement is completely accurate based on the 3 months I've had my Droid 2. I really like the phone but he makes a very, very good point. It bogs down on a regular basis, I have to constantly kill running processes, I had to root it to get all the crap off. WP7 and iPhone out of the box feel much, much more fluid than an Android device. You can certainly get Android there with some work and some babysitting though.
        LiquidLearner
      • RE: WP7 and the F-word

        @rikasa Your Android flies? Just don't install too many apps on there, especially those that like to stay running in the background, if you want to keep it that way.
        Tiggster
    • RE: WP7 and the F-word

      @Bruizer

      Nope - calling you out on that one. I will agree the iPhone4 response is superior, but there is no way the HTC Sense-equipped Desire before me now has a 500-700ms lag...
      rikasa
      • Don't feel bad...

        @rikasa <br><br>The owner of the Droid X didn't notice it either and was surprised when we measured it.<br><br>Some people seem to not care about slow response.

        Or it coud just be:<br>http://www.tested.com/news/when-you-should-give-your-android-phone-a-factory-reset/1409/

        Yep, the Win95 of the mobile industry. In all of the bad ways.
        Bruizer