Discussion about
cass

January 8th 2012 4:46 pm

Why haven't you bought a Windows Phone yet?

I just read this article on the NY Times (www.nytimes.com­/2012­/01­/08­/technology­/microsoft­-de...) about how Windows Phone is critically a hit, but I think it's also a "hit" with consumers too. I have a Zune HD and I think it's the best media player on the market and always enjoyed using Windows Phone in the couple of instances where I got to test them out. I also know a few (very few) Windows Phone owners that love it and seen others been wowed when they try them out in store. So there's a lot of love for Windows Phone, but not many people are buying them. Why is that?

Why haven't I bought a Windows Phone yet? Aside from not being at that point where I get my carrier-subsidized upgrade, it's mainly due to two reasons:
  • Lack of top-tier hardware choices on Verizon
  • I'd lose a few awesome, but non-essential apps that I've been using a lot lately (Spool, Path, EasyTether Pro)
Microsoft is going to throw a lot of money at Windows Phone, so with time, I feel like these two things will be addressed.

Aside from fanboyish Microsoft hate, why aren't you considering picking up a Windows Phone?

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20 replies
shawnmcdonald

I had a Windows Phone not too long ago (Samsung Focus) and loved the OS itself. Unfortunately the lack of apps is what caused me to return it and go in another direction. I agree that over time the lack of key apps will be addressed. I also think you're right about the lack of top-tier hardware, but I'll be interested to see long term how Microsoft's partnership with Nokia impacts the marketplace. Nokia has already released a couple of really nice looking handsets. I think other manufacturers need to contribute better phones. As several websites/blogs have noted, Microsoft and its hardware partners will have a big presence at CES this week. I'll be curious to see how newly announced WP handsets are received by the press.
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jdmp10

I just purchased two HTC Radar 4G's for my parents on T­-Mobile.com (its free currently for new customers), I primarily chose a WP7 Phone cause its much simpler to use then Android and even iOS especially for the non-tech savy crowd. Another thing to note that I think most people overlook generally speaking with the various OS's on the market is how stable and reliable WP7 is. Task managing is practically a thing of the past in WP7 which is perfect for performance efficiency of the overall OS, no need for manually closing of individual tasks like iOS or Android.

Microsoft really needs to push these benefits to there system over there rivals especially for older folks who are not as accustomed to smartphones and who can feel its overwhelming for them to learn something so foreign from scratch. There is very little to figure out in WP7, it is similar to webOS in that way, it does a very good job of minimizing tasks, grouping certain things like having your contacts and your FB all in one location but still leaving the option open for dedicated apps if one chooses that route.

Although I myself probably wont be moving to WP7 anytime soon, for candidates like my parents, it is the perfect smartphone OS with the least learning curve among all the major mobile OS's.
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groovechicken

So far, I have only seen 2 people using Windows Phone 7 devices in the wild. They are both exactly the type of "normal person" Microsoft seems to be targeting with their marketing and their hopes for the platform. I asked them how they liked it and got a very half-hearted "Yeah, it's pretty good" from the female and an indifferent "It's not bad" from the male. I actually expected a more positive review from both of these people based on all the love it has gotten from the usual suspects among the podcaster crowd.

If Microsoft's target users seem so unexcited about it after having had it long enough to learn it well, that certainly doesn't bode well for the platform. I am going to go ahead and place my bets on WP7 being a distant 3rd also-ran in the smartphone space... and possibly even 4th place if Amazon releases a phone. Hype alone does not a success make... to rework an old phrase.
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jdmp10

Sadly the biggest problem Microsoft has with WP7 is not related to the OS itself at all but the fact they were so late to the party. Google and Apple had anywhere from a 2 to 3 year head start and that is huge. With its rivals in such a lead, its unrealistic to think Microsoft is gonna catch up anytime soon if ever. The advantage they do have though is that Microsoft has a much more refined and functional OS in a shorter period of time then Google or Apple did in the first year on the market but they really need to get some killer apps and market the crap out of it to really get some big numbers to follow them.
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cass

Did those people mention why they were so lukewarm on it?
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groovechicken

No, and that's the really troubling thing about it (for Microsoft anyway, I couldn't care less how WP7 ends up doing). They didn't seem to have any specific major complaints, just a general disinterest. If Microsoft really wants to win people over, they are going to have to have some things about their platform that excites users so much that they tell others about it. Telling someone "it's not bad" or "it's okay" is going to be translated by others as "I really wish I had bought an iPhone". No matter how you slice it, this doesn't bode well. Has anyone here met a normal person who was excited about their WP phone? I am curious. Perhaps it is only exciting to people in the tech elite?
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duy

I am an android user and I love the fact that I can install new apps everyday and flash new ROM every 3 month or so to have a completely new phone, new function. Microsoft update schedule seen to be pretty slow compare with android and it also not "open" (I mean, no custom ROM). Maybe M$ just try to compete with iOS only?
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jdmp10

WP7 is not really targeted at power users such as yourself, at least not in its current state, whether or not that will change is not certain but considering what we know about Microsoft's strategy for WP7 then I highly doubt they will go down that road where we will see users being able to heavily customize the UI such as you can with Android. WP7 is essentially iOS in its model and framework (completely closed source controlled by Microsoft with very little room for manufacturer customization's i.e. Samsung's Touchwiz or HTC Sense or Motorola Blur) instead of Apple loaded apps and services, you greeted with Microsoft ones.

For the casual smartphone user who isn't obsessed with ROM's and always wanting to change the look and feel of the UI on a regular basis and just wants something that works all the time then that is who WP7 is targeted for.
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michelekPR

I absolutely LOVE my Windows Phone. I currently have the Samsung Focus. The hardware is great and the Mango upgrade makes it near perfect. I only wish it had a front-facing camera. Battery life is good, touch interface is smooth as silk and very responsive. I'm very happy with the quality of apps. Its a slow growth path, but the apps market is growing and I suspect will explode once Windows 8 hits, which will influence devs to build across the Windows platforms. Can't wait!
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frankspin

When I recently upgraded my phone I was thinking of the HTC Trophy but there were a lot of key apps that were missing that made me not consider it. I also use google services pretty heavily so I've come to rely on the gmail & calendar android apps a lot.
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nitehawk

Microsoft sucks at shipping. Over the years we've seen new operating systems take forever to launch. The Xbox program has really been the only thing to come out of Microsoft early to market (talk about the mistake there is for another discussion).

iOS was first to market. Windows Phone isn't even the closest competitor. I'm all for competition but different operating systems can make things difficult for people to change back and forth between phones so people are less likely to do so. Windows needs to beat out Android before competing with iOS and they can definitely do it. I know less about Windows Phones than Android phones, but battery life is a serious issue with the latter and if Windows OS doesn't kill the phones battery, all they have to do is make a series of commercials to educate people on the fact.

I do believe that the "open" mantra is a bit overplayed by geeks like us. People don't want to install their own apps or homebrew software. They want their phone to work and do the newest coolest thing that their friend just did or they saw in a commercial. The fragmentation of Android makes the software updates slow to roll out and I think it's another opportunity for Windows. If they could confine themselves to just a few different phones I think they have a real chance.

Being able to concentrate on maybe 3-5 phones that they champion so when you saw them at a distance you knew immediately that it's a Windows phone, not an Android is where Microsoft needs to excel. Right now everyone knows what an iPhone is and they kind of understand Android, but I think few know the difference between Android and Windows.
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cass

What specific things about Windows Phone do you not like? I'm just really curious to hear what people are put off by Windows Phone on a practical level.
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nitehawk

Nothing specific actually. It's still relatively new so I actually haven't handled one yet. Not that I think I'm missing anything since Microsoft isn't marketing the way they need to in order to be successful. I'm more just focusing on a business perspective, which I believe is important because Palm is no more though their smartphones had a lot of promise and interesting features, but ultimately the business deals didn't work out. Projects need money and poor business leads to failure even if some things are done well.

If it was cheap to own a new phone for a month I would try a Windows Phone. I say that before I think about how much I use my iPhone every day, which is a lot. More than I use anything else besides my work computer. However it could also be very disruptive since we use our phones so much every slight change can affect us greatly.

Windows should do more marketing, focusing on better marketing. The commercial that show easy integration between phone and laptop are a good start, but any smartphone can do that. If they were to loan out their phones for a week or so at a time, kinda like a test drive I think that could go a long way. Maybe just letting people walk around the mall with a strange new phone could be a good PR move as well, given that the phones were absolutely not allowed to leave the premises.

Think smartphone test drives would be a good idea? I guess it's taking more of the power from the journalists/critics who tell people what phone to buy and what the different features are, but when you're late to the party like Microsoft is, you gotta zig when others have already zagged.
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jdmp10

Even if those people who are not familiar with WP7 devices got there hands on one and they come from Android or iOS phones, its very hard to convince those people cause WP7 devices offer very few if any advantages you wouldn't typically find on there current devices. The best Microsoft can hope for at this moment is to bring in as many new smartphone users as they can because those are the easiest to convince since they dont have any prior smartphone experience be it with Android or iOS so they are the most neutral of all the various groups of people who no real bias.

In the meantime, as they are doing that, they need to feverishly if they are not already do so or planning to do so, need to really set WP7 apart from its rivals with features and apps we (Android and iOS users) are not accustomed to seeing on our own devices, something completely unique to WP7. Palm did a good job with this with webOS, in my opinion of all the current smartphone OS'es on the market today short of maybe the Nokia N9 running Meego, webOS was probably the most user-friendly designed OS with features that really set it apart from its competitors and right now aside from the overall layout approach of WP7, it doesn't really bring any new features we haven't seen before.

To put things simply, Microsoft has a long long road ahead of them if WP7 is to become a success and success in business is only measured by volumes sold equaling profits and not just general praise as much as Microsoft enjoys hearing people's positive feedback when using a WP7 device.
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Aenean144

Theory 1: The smartphone market has two very good entrenched players in iOS and Android. In order to take a chunk of such a market, a new entrant has to be an "order of magnitude" better than the entrenched players. WP7 does not provide any significant advantages for consumers to switch. If MS wants in, they have to take a different angle or provide a revolutionary product in the same category. I don't think they have a revolutionary product, just a competitor to iOS and Android. Maybe they should endeavor to be the new economy phone platform with unlocked phones on the order of $200 to $300. Or take a niche part of the market which they could grow from, something like "xBox Phone".

Theory 2: WP7 really isn't that good. The UI is bilateral asymmetric with poor use of negative space, the live tiles are information poor while at-a-glance information really isn't that important of a feature for users, and the UI semantics are too foreign for users. Some users love it, but it's not approachable for the mainstream.

I think it is more theory 1 than 2, but from a personal standpoint, I think the UI design of WP7 is hideous. As such, it won't market well.

Addendum: Tech reviewers are not oracles of the future, and a good review may not mean much. They know no more than the average Joe on what the mainstream would like or not. More often than not, they can only observe market movements, not be able to predict it. They may not even know what constitutes a good product is for mainstream consumers.
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Aenean144

Theory 3: Microsoft is used to leading a consortium or cadre of OEMs, distribution channels and retail outlets. They reigned supreme with this with Windows 3.x to Windows 95 to Windows 7. They were essentially the first mover in owning the OEM-distribution-retail channels with MS-DOS and were able to fend off all comers. Windows was just a natural evolution of that. With WP7, they are starting from zero and there is an entrenched player with Android.

They don't have the market power to pushed the entrenched player aside, and as a result [can't] get a push of WP7. Retailers don't want to sell it, OEMs don't want, and consumers are already occupied with entrenched players.

Edit: the old "can" was really a can't.
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jdmp10

I agree with some of your points as valid but others are subjective and based on individual opinions. I still stand by my original rational as to why Microsoft is doing as poorly as they are with WP7, and that is because they were just too late to the game, not only too late but when they did arrive it was with nothing spectacular that didn't already exist for the most part in there rival systems.

With that said, change for people is not easy and to get those established Android and iOS users to convert to WP7 is going to be a much more difficult task then convincing consumers who have never owned a smartphone before to choose WP7 over its rivals. I personally take the learning curve with WP7 is much less steep then Android or iOS and that for anyone who has never owned a smartphone in the past, this is going to be a key differentiator when choosing that smartphone.

There are so many things that can discussed as to why they are doing poorly and how they can improve and what strategy they should use and who they should target, too much for one posting.
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Aenean144

Yup. It's going to be a variant of "WP7 came too late and was only just as good as the competition (maybe) when it arrived" type of thing. You can argue that if WP7 came in 2009, it may have been too late. And by late, we mean a direct competitor in the high end smartphone space.

However, there's more than one way to skin a cat. My point is that, at least in the 90s, MS was capable of cobbling together a consortium of OEMs and distribution channels to push through a product. It would dominate just because they got everyone to sell it. It seems they've totally lost this capability.
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jdmp10

Well Microsoft isn't lacking the resources (mainly money) that would have probably seen any less resourceful candidate close up shop after not even being able to penetrate 5% of the market in over a year's time. Im not sure how heavily they are relying on Nokia to help make WP7 a sales success. Im not sure how many units Nokia can help move of there WP7 devices in the US especially where Nokia has never really had much success and if the OS doesn't fain anymore traction this year over last then im pretty sure Nokia will question the decision they made going with Microsoft with this deal if they are not already having second thoughts.
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Sasquatch4ever

I don't have fanboyish Microsoft hate, especially since I'm a diehard Windows server guy, but I really can't see the appeal of WP7.

I would LOVE to see WP7 get bigger, I believe that competition is (almost always) good for consumers and I would like to see another company enter the market. However, I have also loved what Google has done with Android, and I've never really enjoyed using my friend's (singular, I only know one) WP7 phone.
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