For those of us who have been Windows Phone fans for a long time, we know what it’s like to watch a major release go awry. Well, quite frankly, it’s pretty much all we’ve seen. We’ve grown used to a total lack of noise from its inception and even simple mistakes like launching the flagship Lumia 900 on Easter. Just so many missed opportunities but with the release of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is doubling down on the strategy of bungling major rollouts. Let’s just look at where things are in the US market. We know the Lumia 920 and 820 are coming to AT&T at some point (to officially be determined at a price yet to be announced but finally known to be available in Cyan). And  the Lumia 810 is coming to T-Mobile at some point, and some price, with some specs…little more is known. We know HTC has two devices and Samsung has one and we know their specs. We don’t know where those phones are going or when they’ll be released or what they’ll cost. Heck, we don’t even now the complete feature set for Windows Phone 8. Let’s look at the roadmap that WPCentral has for WP8:

  • October 4th – AT&T formally announces the Lumia 920
  • October 4th – Microsoft sends out press invites for SF
  • October 21st – AT&T announce pricing and availability of the 920
  • October 26th – Possible pre-order for the Lumia 920
  • October 29th – Microsoft announces Windows Phone 8
  • November 4th – In store sales of the Lumia 920 begin

These dates are lining up well so far and more rumors have been confirming them. But read them. On the 21st you can pre-order a Lumia 920…8 days later you can find out the features of what you pre-ordered. Really? OK well surely devs will have time to kick out some nice apps, right? Well no…none actually. Some developers have been seeded with copies of the Windows Phone 8 SDK. Most devs (even some with 1.5m downloads) have not. The current rumors are a release on October 30. Sure, there’s a leaked SDK but devs and leaks don’t always mix. The rumor is that the SDK is fully unlocked so it would reveal all of the features and that’s why MS is holding it back. There’s a few serious flaws with that logic. To begin with, the thing has been leaked and fully examined. Secondly, if that’s the logic just release a locked SDK like WP7 and let devs at least start working on apps. But most importantly, the ramifications of this decision are that developers are not going to have an opportunity to write apps for WP8 prior to general availability. That also means you want people to get in line to buy WP8 devices when there will not be a lot of OS specific apps. Yes, there’s backwards compatibility, but that’s just talking me into holding onto my Lumia 900 or wait for the ecosystem to build itself out. And yes, some apps, like Skype for WP8 will come out on the date of release. But this is still a pitiful way to do things.

Getting back to the basics, if you’re on T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint you don’t know what devices will be available (and fairly we don’t know what else AT&T has after the Lumias). In fact, as of right now there are no hero devices for anyone except AT&T. And even if you are an AT&T subscriber, you don’t know what the pricing is and a hard release date. It’s pathetic. This is a release slated to occur within a month. The theory that you don’t want Google and Apple to see your cards is just stupid. At this point, everyone’s seen the SDK. Most are guessing on the actual phone /carrier mix. But Apple already showed its hand and with a month to go Android devices wouldn’t be toggled that much in this short of a period. What they’ve really done is left whatever base and onlookers that Windows Phone has in complete disgust. They’re left guessing if their carrier will have any phones and what they’ll be. Instead of solidifying a brand, it’s pissing people off. – making loyalists frustrated and time is not on their side.

Will there be a Verizon 910?  I don’t know. It’s all speculation and unfortunately, with the Windows Phone track record, when there’s ambiguity the skeptics have history to support their position…as they weigh the known iPhone and Android choices. It’s hard to cheer to loud when you don’t know what you’re cheering for.

Not well played Microsoft…not well played at all.

P.S. if anyone says that Apple has extremely tight release schedules then maybe you’re forgetting the difference between the sales of the two companies and the road ahead of them.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Bungled for those in the know sure. What i’ve come to realize is that on the general consumer front if the ads hit and the in-store experience is there none of this matters.

    People seeing HTC 8X and Lumia 810 ads on T-Mobile will focus on those devices, the same for AT&T and Verizon. The best thing about all this is that there are definitely better phones on each carrier than there was three months ago.

    One thing that definitely shows Microsoft’s priorities is the advance marketing for the Surface and Windows 8 tablets and PCs. In comparison the Windows Phone guys are getting shafted.

  2. Microsoft absolutely SUCKS at PR. And this stupidity in keeping SDK locked until unveil is retarded like I said before. There will be very few apps at launch that could take full use of dual-core and other features of WP8 on launch which will basically kill the platform by not allowing it reach full peak. This is one of the reasons why WP is not mainstream enough and won’t be until Microsoft changes its stance on secrecy that nobody cares about anymore. People are slowly losing all interest in waiting.

  3. But people are talking about WP8 and asking questions every day. Is that the plan, or simply a coincidence.

    On the SDK thing, my guess is Microsoft wants to play down the WP8 exclusive apps right now. They have 100k+ apps already (ported over) with a handful of superstars for sure at launch. They want to keep WP7.x users engaged as long as they can, and having all your favorite apps being updated to WP8 exclusives on 10/30/12 would not be a good thing. I think all of the better, active apps, will port over quickly and leave WP7.x users with a sour taste.

    • The only people who are talking about WP8 are bloggers and tech geeks. Average consumers don’t even know that there is WP8 incoming because there are no ads. And because there are no ads, average consumers are buying S3 and iPhone5s right now. Would you rather see WP8 in the hands of millions of consumers? Or in the hands of thousands of loyal WP users? This is the reason why WP will never gain any worthy marketshare. It would be a lot more profitable if WP8 was launched 2 weeks ago in order to ride on the iPhone bandwagon.

      • I’m confused. You think Windows Phones would sell better by riding on the back of the iPhone bandwagon? Nope, the phones will stand on their own merits. They will ride on the back of the massive windows 8 and Surface bandwagon.

        There will be attractive options on 3 of the 4 biggest U.S. carriers and on every major international carrier. Market share will rise and rise quickly.

      • @Murani.

        And you base your forecast on what, market research or zealotry?

        The more and more I hear about the “greatness” of Windows Phone (which in the case of WP7 even Microsoft acknowledge silently that it sucked big time, else why switch kernels and change SDKs) the more I remember the good old Windows vs. OS/2.

        OS/2 guys always bashed Windows as inferior and thought their OS was unappreciated by the world. And ironically WP7 is exactly at the other end of the spectrum, that is OS/2 was a wonderful kernel with a lagging UI (due to memory requirements) and WP7 is a horrid kernel with a wonderful UI. Both missed the point that you have to have both to be a success.

        WP8 solves the kernel problem but with an untried approach. Linux has been ported to 18+ architectures and almost all drivers are open source, so you can recompile them at ease. The Vista kernel (trust me on this one, vista still lives on at Windows 8) has only been ported to power hungry PowerPC, MIPS and Itanium.

        Surface? Well that’s a mystery. Will people choose between a simple straightforward iPad just to have Office which is not touch friendly? Will the awkwardness of the occasional switch to keyboard ruin the experience? Not sure.

        But then again, you can always find out how things turn out. Just go to your local ATM and it most surely runs on OS/2. Wait. I’ve seen some banks port them to Windows. So sad.

  4. Leaks kill the thunder, and keeping people out of the loop that will potentially leak stuff is smart not stupid, and if you don’t know anything its because your one of those that can’t keep a secret. Which is your fault. Thing is yall are going to complain regardless of how its done that’s what yall do, they are just responding to your last complaint, and being more like apple , anouncing then a week later releasing with availability and pricing coming at announcement generating buzz and impulse buys like apple, if reviews and bugs came first the iPhone 5 wouldn’t have sold as much, with chipping paint and purple rain, and mediocre specs, a phone that will be outdated before the new year hits. This was all your advice this year and last year to be apple like.

  5. Totally agree with ustudio. The average consumer (the population that makes most sales) doesn’t read blogs and overanalyze release dates especially for the SDK. I think their strategy now is better than the one they had for mango.

  6. I agree that the average person isn’t reading blogs, etc. The average person also doesn’t know what WP8 is. They don’t know what the Lumia 920 is. All they know is that there’s iPhone 5 and GSIII. That’s Microsoft’s problem and sitting on their thumbs for another month until the release occurs (silently) can’t be their answer.

  7. I agree with the idea above that if Windows 8 phones may be successful only if Windows 8 tablets are successful. There are 2 types of those – Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.

    In order to be successful, Windows 8 tablets must be much better than Android tablets because it is known that Android tablets do not compete well against Apple. How Windows 8 tablets can be better with fewer apps and tighter closed ecosystem?

    Windows 8 Pro tablets are like Windows 8 ones but can run Windows desktop apps. There are Windows 7 tablets that can do that, but few buy them. Is it because when it is inconvenient to use stylus they are unusable? If yes, then Windows 8 will allow to use Metro apps at these times and people may start buying them.

    So, it looks like the fate of Windows 8 phone depends on the fate of Windows 8 Pro. How come Pro tablets fill be delayed for months?

  8. Isn’t it funny how everyone complains about secrecy prior to product launch from MS, but think the sun shines out of apple for exactly the same policy (albeit more effectively managed)

    • When Apple announces a product, they announce the product, it’s features, it’s pricing, and its availability all in one fell swoop. According to the dates presented here, you’ve got pre-order availability *before* you’ve got known features.

      Surely you can see the difference?

      • ^^ Bingo. MS needs to not have so long a lead time. It’s a killer. Apple knows how to do a release: Announce with all details, pre-order within 5 days, release 1 week after pre-orders. BOOM, done.

  9. I’m hoping the mis-steps in managing the WP8 will lead to lower pricing of WP8 upon its release. Yes, even though I admit frustration with Windows Phone 8 marketing messaging, I’m still poised to buy one. I am one of those geek blog hunters, though, who is actively searching for promising news of WP8. If it is a slow WP8 start out of the gates then please Microsoft, pull out some magic to gain momentum because I don’t want to replace my BlackBerry phone and Playbook with same old, same old.

  10. To be honest does anyone care anymore? Windows phone is about as irrelevant as as you can get unless you have a desire to follow the Dodo.

    Development wise we are not even looking at Windows phone – Android and Apple are a lot better bet.

    The ignoring of developers please to get Visual Studio 12 half usable is inexcusable, that’s if you want Windows phone and tablet apps to be developed.

    Of course could be wrong – alienating a good % of your market, and being late with new products might be the perfect key to success!

    • I don’t think WP is irrelevant, but MS started WAY too late: Apple was up 150 laps with 50 to go.

      I think pricing is key, Key, KEY. I know that I, personally, simply cannot afford Apple products, regardless of whatever else I think of Apple (as products or as a company).

      I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again, as a consumer I want At Least 3 companies competing. I win, in price and in innovations. Just look at Apple vs. Google and WP: Apple makes 1 phone, innovation has declined, and you pay a premium. Google & MS allow multiple OEMs, so there is more choice and the prices can be more competitive. THAT’s the free market. The more, the merrier!

      “alienating a good % of your market” – do you mean developers? Hmm, this may not be scientific, but let’s take a look at Outsiders! statistics: 351,647 total users on Outsiders!, 17,006 of whom self-report as developers. That makes 4.8%. I wouldn’t call that a “good % of your market” by a long shot. Face it, we – that is devs, hobbyists, those-who-read-tech-blogs – are in the MINORITY. The “market” is Joe and Jane Doe. We like to think of ourselves as representative of the whole, because that’s the little world we live in, but it just isn’t so. Just like the Tea Party doesn’t represent all Republicans, just like the IRA doesn’t represent all Irish, we don’t represent all Windows Phone users. And unfortunately, Joe and Jane Doe are easily influenced by buzzwords and shiny plastic. Apple has created a stellar BRAND: polished, giving it value, and making it desirable. Google’s brand is fair, and very ubiquitous, but I doubt that the Does think of it in terms of hardware: it’s still the browser (and I’ll bet that they don’t even know that Chrome is also a desktop OS). Android, as a brand, is probably a little more known as a mobile device OS, but is probably still largely an unknown to the Does. Heck, I’ve heard plenty of people use “Droid” to refer to ALL Android devices, not just Motorola’s phone line. MS’s brand is old, stodgy, and a little tarnished. This is MS’s biggest liability. Like your school GPA, losing value is easy, gaining it is difficult.

      Mobility is the basket where most technology companies seem to have put all their eggs, like it or not. So this will be a long, slow slog for all of the providers, manufacturers, and developers. Apple has a Massive head start, but it’s theirs to loose. Android devices have been catching up fast, and Microsoft is leading the rear of the pack. BlackBerry is withering on the vine, Symbian is probably relegated to hobbyists now since it has no support. To loose in mobility is to become marginalied. I don’t think MS will be marginalized. Not yet.

  11. Let’s hope that they don’t do what they’ve done with Win 8, that being to release a service pack before the main product is launched (178Mb).

    I think this is the end for Ballmer, if Windows 8 is a flop followed by WP8 or vice-versa can’t see him surviving.

    There are already massive undercurrents against Windows 8 UI, confusion over WP8 it’s all a marketing disaster, getting worse by the day.

    • Apple released a service pack to Mountain Lion but instead of devs being the testers they were end users. I much prefer MS’s method of fixing the bugs before the ship to the general public.

  12. No SDK yet? Really? I’m pretty sure I have it.

    Then again, I already have Windows 8 pro installed on my computer. MSDN accounts are nice. All I know, is that in my compile targets, I have the ARM cpu listed.

    • ARM is also targeted in Win8 for the WinRT version of Win8. There’s only two ways to get the WP8 SDK – 1) you were approved as a top dev and they gave early access but that’s not a lot or 2) you found it on XDA:) But it isn’t readily/officially avaiable

  13. When the first iPhone was released it had zero apps that were not built by Apple. The fact that WP8 phones will be released with 100K apps already built for WP7 is awesome. More info here: http://www.i-programmer.info/professional-programmer/i-programmer/4402-the-astonishing-tale-of-wp8-compiling-100000-apps.html

    Also, it would be bad if people built apps only for WP8, because that would leave out all of the existing WP7 phone users from downloading those apps, which would be sad since WP7 phones are not upgradable to WP8 OS.

    I think this is a great strategy. This allows the launch of a new OS, new hardware platform, and new class of apps gradually and gives some time to the devs and users to migrate over to WP8. I know many people who are on a 2 year refresh cycle with their phones (myself included). I’m looking forward to WP8, but if I were developing an app for WP8, I would target WP7 & WP8 with the same codebase and in 6 months (if the numbers pan out to have more users using WP8 than WP7) consider moving the codebase over to WP8 only.

    • I think you are correct but we’re talking about two different things. The mobile strategy of Microsoft is a good one. I like WP8 and backwards compatability. I like the flow and feel. I’m a WP user and everyone I’ve recommended to use one loves it and won’t leave the ecosystem. That’s seperate from the rollout strategy for a new product. No one knows WP8 exists except us geeks. No one knows what WP8 does. No one knows what the dev environment is. This is 3 weeks away from going live and there’s no marketing. No brand sense. Nothing. That’s my issues.

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