Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
This is a guest post from digital marketer Hillel Fuld, you can follow him on Twitter here.You know Microsoft did SOMETHING right when everyone seems to be talking about the Windows Phone platform. But most people are still pessimistic it’s going to work for Microsoft.
Robert Scoble, for example, dismisses any study that predicts the success of Windows Phone and its eventual triumph over iOS in market share. “It is missing 450,000 apps” is Scoble’s primary argument. That and, “None of my friends are talking about it.”
To Robert and all the other sceptics who think Microsoft missed the boat and cannot get away from its Windows Mobile reputation, let’s break this down to what a mobile OS needs to succeed, then we can talk about Windows Phone and its chances of success.
I will of course ignore the fact that the majority of the tech press is already rooting for Windows Phone, especially after CES.
Apps: Yes, in today’s mobile world, the name of the game is apps, no question about it. Windows Phone has 50,000 compared to iOS’ 500,000 and Android’s 400,000. Except, that comparison is ridiculous! Windows Phone has been around for one year only and it reached the 50k milestone faster than both iOS and Android. “It’s a different market now then it was back then”? OK, then take 2011 as your measuring stick. Distimo’s end of the year report showed that Windows Phone Marketplace was the fastest growing app store with over 400% growth.
Developers: Well apps don’t grow on trees. Any successful mobile ecosystem needs a serious developer community and guess what? Microsoft has it but it also has all the tools in place to enlarge that community. Last month, I judged an app competition at Microsoft in which iOS and Android developers spent a week porting their apps over to Windows Phone. Some of them were large companies and others were small developers. The one thing they all agreed on was that the development tools/environment of Windows Phone is easier and more efficient than Android by leaps and bounds.
Global Reach: While everyone is busy talking about US market share of iOS vs Android, Nokia is busy selling a million devices a day in places people have never even heard of the iPhone, let alone have the means to afford one. Microsoft joining forces with Nokia, the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phones will enable this platform to penetrate markets Apple and Google have not even started to think about. Oh, and in many of these emerging markets, consumers use their mobile phones as their primary computing device, so Nokia has a nice loyal audience over there. Oh, and that very same model of selling mobile phones in volume at a small margin? Yeah, Nokia and Microsoft are bringing that model to the U.S market now.
Hardware: Yes, I know, hardware is so 2010 and all anyone cares about are apps. Except, if that were true, Apple would not have spent all that money developing the hardware and material used in the iPhone. Hardware still matters to some extent and while you can say a lot of things about Nokia and their poor attempt at mobile software, no one makes a phone like Nokia does. The Lumia 900 and its siblings just set the bar for mobile hardware extremely high. Good luck, Samsung.
UI: Let’s be honest, the UI of a mobile OS might be one of the most important factors in its success. Windows Phone, while it still has some bugs to work out and might not have ALL the cool apps just yet, has the most unique UI of any mobile OS since the first iPhone was introduced. The live tiles give you quick access to your information, and the whole Metro UI just works. I believe it was Gruber who said on last month’s On the Verge that if you would go back in time to a decade ago and give someone the choice of iOS, Android, or Windows Phone, many more people would choose the latter than what the market would have you believe. And that is coming from Mr. Apple himself.
The truth is, this is just a partial list and other things Microsoft has going for it include developer incentives in place, a low price point for entry into the US market, and some other goodies like full Office and Xbox support. Not to mention some of the brilliant marketing skills Microsoft is displaying lately.
The bottom line is this. We like to think of this tech and mobile industry as a “Game over” situation with Android and iOS as the clear winners but the truth is, this space is in its diapers and what the market looks like now will in no way resemble the mobile market of 2015, so lets not declare Windows Phone dead just yet.