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.