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.