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

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.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

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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