Charlie Kindel, former Windows Phone General Manager, set off a firestorm when he spoke his mind about the state of Windows Phone adoption rate. I even contributed a response on the thread that took on a life of its own with various tech bloggers stepping up to match wits. I happen to agree far more with Charlie than I do any other yahoo who tried to find alternate reasoning for Windows Phone lack of market penetration.
Microsoft has wedged itself smack in the middle of carriers and OEMs. They have set a minimum spec sheet, standard components in a lot of ways and made a guarantee that all devices would receive OS updates. This works in high contrast to the way Google deploys Android. The OEMs are free to license the OS and do what they may, user experience be darned. The OEMs spend millions of dollars on R&D and are much more inclined to get whatever incremental increase in hardware out into the market as fast as they can. There is no sense of timing involved. Apple, as we all know, takes the opposite approach. A methodical, measured approach to product design and release. They do it without regard to anyone else’s schedule, not the carriers or any other competing devices. This allows Apple the opportunity to refine the user experience that their loyal following has come to appreciate and expect. The iCrowd is not looking for the next big thing, they are looking for the next best thing-from Apple. What Windows Phone has done is try to look out for their own reputation. Microsoft got blasted in the past for the user experience of Windows Mobile devices. It didn’t matter if HTC Sense or TouchWiz or whatever processor hogging skin was causing the issues.
Way too late! MG Siegler is so long its unbelievable. Not only is Windows Phone not too late, it is actually reentering at a good time. You see, both Apple and Android are raising the awareness and adoption of smartphones. This gives Microsoft the opportunity to be in the market during the time of rapid and steady market expansion. There is no such thing as being too late to an expanding market. That defies basic logic. Was Google too late in launching Google+? How about Amazon launching the Kindle Fire in the tablet market? Personal opinion does not equate to truth.
Charlie Kindel wrote “I would like to believe that at the end of the day the superior end to end experience for the end user matters more than anything.” I happen to agree wholeheartedly. When you take away all the flash and power tools the user experience is what you have left. iPhone users love their devices, they love the way they operate, the way they feel and the fact they feel attached to it. Most Android users I know, operate their fun, they don’t love it. Windows Phone users have the same type of admiration and love for the WP OS that iOS users have for theirs. What keeps people with Apple, in large part, is the ecosystem-the platform. If someone disagrees that the user experience should be the most important thing they don’t have a clue. Even if you are a “power user” at the end of the day you want to enjoy using your phone.
Robert Scoble wrote in the comment section on Charlie’s article “Charlie: it’s totally wrong to ignore apps. We had two separate parties here this Christmas weekend and all we did was talk about apps. See, this is why Windows Phone 7 won’t get any traction: when apps come up it’s Android vs. iOS time. WP7 never even came up in conversations.” Scoble’s logic is wrong. People are talking about iPhone vs Android apps because that is what people are using, not because the apps aren’t on Windows Phones. Case in point, AlphaJax scrabble-like game is on Windows Phone 7 and is quite nice plus Windows Phone has Words by Post and other cross platform scrabble games yet the lack of Words with Friends gets cited as one of the big voids in the app marketplace. WP users are using these other games to much delight yet it comes down to “what your friends are already playing.” The more WP that get into the marketplace the lack of an app title means less and less as long as there is a suitable alternative. People care about what is fun a lot more than the actual name of an app.
Marketing matters! Apple is universally applauded for the power of their marketing. They take very simple things and make them seem-magical- because they tell the story and the spend the money to mass advertise. Microsoft still doesn’t get marketing for consumer products outside of the Xbox. Has anyone seen the correlation between Nokia’s advertisement and the interest in the Nokia 800 compared to other excellent 2nd Gen Windows Phones? Microsoft should not only be prepared to up the ante on marketing but to absolutely flood the market with advertisement. Every major celebrity should be rocking a windows phone, every major sports program should be taken over for Windows Phone marketing and last but not least every carrier store should include large Windows Phone frontage. Go Big or Go Home! Which leads me to my final point.
Go home Microsoft! Are you too good for your home? Where are all the store openings that were supposed to be happening over the past 9 months and into the next year that you showed the graph of. Accomplish this single thing and you’ll have a one-to-one connection with customers. Hire RSPs that specialize in Mobile sales in all stores and push the product hard. Apple has shown this to be an invaluable tool and you are the only other company that can follow the breadcrumbs to gold. Do it and do it now if you’re not going to Go Big with the carriers. In fact it should really be both.
At the end of the day Charlie has great insight because he’s been involved on the other side of the tracks and also has his personal user experience to draw from. I’d highly suggest people shut up and pay attention, unless you don’t want to learn anything then by all means keep spouting nonsense.