Microsoft’s best work ever on a mobile operating system won’t be enough: Windows Phone 7 is toast.Earlier, Microsoft revealed that phone manufacturers had shipped 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 devices to carriers over its first six weeks of availability. The number of phones purchased by consumers is likely much lower.
That number just isn’t very big. And while anything’s possible, there’s no reason to believe that Windows Phone 7 is suddenly going to take off.
The OS is nice enough, and is arguably prettier than Android. But there just aren’t many feature, design, or app advantages that most people would care about. There isn’t a price advantage. There isn’t a huge enterprise play here. There may not be a tablet play, if Microsoft favours regular Windows 7 for “slates.”
And unlike Apple and Google, Microsoft has no brand cachet. No one’s going to buy a hardware gadget because it says Windows on it, though they clearly do for Apple.
Meanwhile, the smartphone/app industry is becoming a waltz of elephants. Apple and Google have pretty much secured the top two spots in the market, and RIM, Nokia, Microsoft, and Palm will be fighting for third place and below. There’s no momentum in any market to suggest that Microsoft will be a huge competitor, unless something crazy happens like Nokia exclusively building Windows into all of its smartphones.
Yes, but Android started slow, you may remind us. Yes, it did. But it solved a big problem — Android was the “phone that’s sort of like an iPhone” at carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile, which didn’t have the iPhone. And it was the first big “operating system that’s sort of like an iPhone” for hardware makers like HTC and Motorola. Windows Phone 7 missed that boat by two years.
The way it looks, low consumer demand will lead to low demand for Windows Phone 7 licenses from Microsoft’s hardware partners, such as Samsung and LG.
And then Windows Phone 7 will go away, or fade into something else. (And then maybe Microsoft will finally buy RIM.)
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