Why doesn’t Windows Phone sell?

Charlie Kindel has a nice blog posting on why Windows Phone has yet to take off.  Robert Scoble, amongst many others, chimes in with his response.  Now I agree with Charlie, and many of the other critics as well!  There are a myriad of reasons that Windows Phone has yet to take off.  But I will point out that Charlie was right in the middle of things and not just an observer.  What he is saying is indeed the facts (my brief time in Microsoft’s mobile arena confirming what Charlie saw).  But it isn’t necessarily all the facts, which is why I agree with Scoble and others as well.

When the Windows Mobile 7 reset occurred Android was not yet available.  And by the time the Windows Phone 7 plans were locked down only one device, the T-Mobile G1, was available running Android.  Apple was cleaning up, and Microsoft veered sharply away from the Windows Mobile business model that Android was emulating to focus on as close to an Apple-like model as possible for a software-only player.  Unfortunately for Microsoft Android did take off while it was busy fashioning Windows Phone 7.  In the U.S., Verizon Wireless decided it had to counter AT&T’s exclusive iPhone arrangement and came up with an Android-powered smartphone it marketed heavily as the Droid.  The Droid campaign was so overwhelmingly successful that it spawned a family of phones, and just as importantly customers were walking into Verizon competitors AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile asking for a “Droid phone”.  They walked out not with a (Verizon exclusive) Droid, but with some other Android phone.  The iPhone had been countered.  Now along comes Microsoft with Windows Phone 7 and no carrier to really champion it.   Charlie does a good job of explaining why, but you can take it one more step and simply say that WP7 was too late for any carrier or manufacturer to really need it!

Now Microsoft has Nokia, and that is a great step.  As I’ve said before it means that you have a manufacturer who will pour their best ideas into Windows Phone devices (and add-on software).  But that isn’t enough.  Having prioritized the consumer over both carriers and manufacturers, Microsoft need consumers to demand a Windows Phone.    And as others have noted, it just isn’t doing much itself  to promote Windows Phone (choosing instead to fund manufacturers and carriers to push it).  Consumers don’t know what a Windows Phone is nor why they should want one.  And unless Microsoft takes the bull by the horns and convinces them, success with Windows Phone will remain elusive.

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7 Responses to Why doesn’t Windows Phone sell?

  1. Finance says:

    but anyway M$ makes 5-15$ per Andrioid phone .

  2. It may be that the market share of WP7 is low because of its relationship with the carriers not being perfect. At least in the US. But here in Brazil, that is not the case (at least that’s what I think).
    But in my opinion, the reason that the market share of WP7 is short is simply due to a poor marketing strategy.
    The fact is that most people only buy something that other people have already bought (preferably someone they trust). As many people own iPhones and Androids, it is natural that people will look for these devices.
    The iPhone and Android could only gain such a big market share by appealing to early adopters. And they helped making these platforms a success. I honestly did not see that happening with WP7. What I saw were rather weak marketing campaigns (the only phone with Office! Or that “Really!? ad). This did not generate a sufficient number of people to leverage the platform for the masses.
    Find out about the Law of Diffusion of Innovation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations) and you will see that this happens. Any new idea of product will hardly gain a large market penetration without having first between 15 and 18% acceptance (again, most people do not buy something that someone has not bought before).
    Anyway, I think WP7 fantastic, much better than Android (IMHO), and as good as iOS. But I think that MS needs to define an attractive marketing strategy, and not continue with this idea of ​​”me too”. After all, it is no use having a good product if you can’t sell it.

    • halberenson says:

      Microsoft’s direct promotion campaign was both inadequate and poorly executed. I actually liked the concept of “Really?”, but the execution was terrible. Instead of advocating putting people, rather than apps, at the center of your smartphone experience it actually dissed smartphones entirely. Now why would you buy a smartphone from people who apparently think you shouldn’t really use a smartphone?

      Microsoft’s current playbook seems to be tied so heavily to Nokia for a couple of reasons (the obvious one being Nokia’s own bet on WP). Just as Androids success in the U.S. didn’t come from marketing Android but from the marketing of a specific phone, the Verizon Droid, Microsoft wants to ride the coattails of the Nokia Lumia line of phones. When people are running around showing their friends their ultracool hipper than iPhone Nokia Lumia 900, or the too-good-to-be-true Lumia 710 they picked up for $.01 (one cent, as currently being offered in Walmart and Costco here in the U.S.), that will drive new customers to stores looking for similar phones. The more Nokia succeeds the more pressure on Samsung, HTC, and others to create great (and differentiated) Windows Phones of their own. Even this spring, as people are driven into AT&T stores by the heavy promotion of the Nokia 900, those who say a great camera is very important to them will be offered the HTC Titan II with its 16 megapixel camera as an alternative. Many will choose the cooler industrial design and add-on software of the Nokia, as well as its Zeiss lens, while some will find that 16mp camera or the larger screen of the Titan II just irresistable. Whichever they buy, the ball will truly be rolling on Windows Phone.

      Will Microsoft launch a worldwide intensive direct advertising campaign for Windows Phone? Probably not until Windows Phone 8. Then it will advertise the heck out of the integrated Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and (perhaps next-generation) XBox family of products. Until then I expect it mostly to focus on co-marketing with Nokia, the carriers, and the other manufacturers.

      • WaltFrench says:

        “Microsoft’s direct promotion campaign was both inadequate and poorly executed.”

        This really gives lie to the claim that WP is consumer focussed. Even the current user base( seemingly dominated by Windows gurus) admit that the wonderful UI is not something that can be communicated in a 60 second spot.

        If WP is to succeed, it’ll be because Win8 users want to leverage their work lives onto their personal space, not the other way ’round, as Apple has done.

  3. Pingback: Trying to Sell Windows Phone 7 « Ron Offringa

  4. Something you left out is the fact that MS basically forced Windows Mobile Phone users by discontinuing support for it and killing it. Some went they way of Windows Phone but the majority went Android for the simple fact that Android was more like Windows Mobile in the fact that it had many functions and features that were totally stripped away in WP7; you couldn’t copy and paste, do ringtones or add a start screen wallpaper behind the tiles or non of the stuff that we were use to in WM. Till this very day, the UI has not changed much other than you can change the sizes of the tiles or the background from black to white. You still have the same old two screens and no way to make custom tile or background colors much less a wallpaper on the start screen. I can go on and on about everything that’s wrong with WP but I would be here all day.

    • halberenson says:

      Windows Mobile was a very different and very TINY audience compared to today’s smartphone market. And while Microsoft did pretty much abandon the audience, it is likely that they’d be in even worse shape had they continued to cater to them.

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