In February 2010 Microsoft took the wraps off of Windows Phone 7 and truly delivered a product almost noone saw coming. Yes the mobile platform was launched eight months later in the fall of 2010 missing essential features like copy & paste and any semblance of current hardware. Still the unique user experience paradigm Microsoft was championing offered many the opportunity to try something fresh. Of course, Windows Phone 7 & 7.5 hardware never really sold that well. Part of it was the challenging task of getting people accustomed to iOS and Android to think differently. The other, more substantial, task was overcoming the lack of attractive hardware. This is where the future becomes now for Windows Phone.
Windows Phone 8 finally matches Microsoft’s true vision of what their mobile platform should be with outstanding hardware from their OEM partners HTC, Nokia & Samsung. All these devices are bold and jump out in an ever increasing sea of black slabs and white copy & pastas. This fall is Windows Phone’s future put on display and the general consensus is Microsoft’s offering is good enough to go head to head with iOS and Android. The attractive start screen, the fast & fluid OS, and the additions of Rooms, Kid’s Corner and Live Lockscreen give Windows Phone enough ammunition to grow and fast.
Carrier support is better than its ever been and thanks to the fact HTC and Nokia are really maximizing their global carrier partnerships the devices will be in almost 5 times the amount of markets than their original Windows Phone 7 devices. Currently, Windows Phone’s U.S. marketshare sits at just under 4% according to ComScore. Keep in mind that Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless carrier has basically spent the past year not offering any Windows Phone at all. So the fact Windows Phone even has as much marketshare as it does is encouraging to me. If you factor in the additional advertisement and availability of Windows Phones on Verizon and an even better selection of devices on T-Mobile (a strong Windows Phone promoter) it isn’t very hard to make a case for a rather quick signficant marketshare jump.
Best of all Windows Phone deserves to be used by more people. The start screen is getting rave reviews for its additional customizability and ability to drive a lot of important information the the user without having to deep dive into apps. The live lockscreen delivers information in an unobtrusive, relevant fashion. The ability for developers to use the improved background location API to deliver timely information is a boon to the platform. Something I’ve been really hoping for and crucial for the platform as iOS and Android already employ location-based APIs in meaningful ways. Other features like Rooms and Kid’s Corners are features we can see ourselves using and are really neat additions to the platform. As more and more people pick up Windows 8 family of devices the more these features will seem indispensable. I have two younger children that I like to let play with my phone. The ability to pre-determine what they can and cannot do with the phone is something I’ll be relishing every single day. Peace of mind is an invaluable thing.
Finally, the cherry on top for the Windows Phone platform is the aggressive pricing of the devices. HTC 8X can be had for as low as $99 (8GB version) and the Lumia 920 (32GB version) for the same price. Folks, the Samsung Galaxy Note II (16GB version) will be a whopping $299. A comparable iPhone 5 with 32GB is $299. Samsung Galaxy S III is being discounted now so you can find it anywhere from $99-$199 for (16GB versions). Carriers also seem to be pushing Wireless Charging as a key platform feature for Windows Phone. There has never been such a good time to deliver on the promise of Windows Phone. The Halo effect of Windows 8 is allowing millions each day to become more familiar with the tiled interface that Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8 share. If you never thought you’d get to see the future of Windows Phone take heart, you already are.