Microsoft: No 'Plan B' for Windows Phone

Microsoft's Chief Financial Office Peter Klein has revealed today that the company's only strategy when it comes to mobile devices is the current plan: pushing Windows Phone into the market with the "right set of experiences" and "the right price points" for customers. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, Klein was asked about a 'Plan B' for mobile given Windows Phone's relative lack of success, and he responded by essentially saying there is no Plan B.

It's less 'Plan B' than how you execute on the current plan.... It's probably more nuanced than just you lower prices or raise prices. It's less a Plan B and more, how do you tweak your plan, how do you bring these things to market to make sure you have the right offerings at the right price points?

It appears as though Microsoft's current strategy for success is to push Windows software across all form factors, whether that be smartphones, tablets or traditional PCs. Klein said Microsoft was working closely with hardware manufacturers to ensure that Windows is present across a range of devices, and the similar experience that is offered on Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone should hopefully drive consumers to want to be a part of the ecosystem.

Unfortunately this plan is slow-moving, as Microsoft has - at least right now - failed to capture a significant portion of the market. Windows Phone sales may have risen by 150% in Q4 2012, but the overall market share is still sitting around 3%, and depending on which source you look at, they're still behind BlackBerry. Microsoft still has a long way to go to build on that market share, but it appears Windows Phone and the unified ecosystem is the only way forward.

Source: Reuters

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don't be too sure. I can see a scenario where MS decides that 5% of the market 4 years in isn't worth them money they spent already and decides to close WP down. if they were in the 20's right now that would be a different story.

Anyone who knows anything about Microsoft's history will spot the pattern here. Since Gates and Allen wrote the very first BASIC language, Microsoft have never "pioneered" in any market. Word processors, spreadsheets, networks, browsers, graphical user interfaces, et al show the same pattern. Microsoft lets others push the boundaries, always introduce a product late and are content to sit in second place until the leader screws up. And they ALWAYS screw up.

Where are Word Perfect, Lotus, Novel and the rest now?

OK, so today it looks like WP8 is late again and is now sitting in 4th place. So was Word when it was introduced. Excel was 3rd. But will the leaders in mobile - Apple, Google and RIM - screw up like their predecessors? RIM? Already done. Apple? Now dying a rapid death in China, the world's biggest market, because they refused to support China Mobile's 3G network. And Google? Already dead in China and about to be "de-emphasized" (I.e. dumped) by their biggest global "customer" Samsung later this year. Huawei, ZTE and HTC also "considering their positions". Nobody likes doing business with Google.

Looks like deja vu all over again. We'll see.

Your argument is already flawed because you are only mentioning software.

It's completely different in the consumer electronics market, as can be seen by the death of the zune. By the time Microsoft got the Zune out of the door the MP3 player market was already saturated and Apple were working on the iPhone.

By the time Microsoft have released WP Apple have already had 4 years of profit from the iPad! The next space is obviously TV so let's see how late to the party Microsoft will be to that - or will xbox save them?

"...From Microsoft Studios comes this falls techno action blockbuster hit 'No Plan B!'
Bruce Willis is Steve Balmer...Justin Long as Joe Belfiore, Windows Phone as itself."

There's no way that a MS rep would have said there was a plan B even if there was one (which I don't think there is). What he says as an official can and will be treated as an announcement in media, and of course he won't lower confidence in WP8 by announcing that they have other plans -- that would be a signal of lack of confidence in their own product.

There is absolutely no reason why WP should be a failure. There is no point them spending time and money on a plan B when the OS is actually very good.

The biggie that makes me lump Windows phones in the same bin as iPhones is the fact that there is no checkbox to allow applications from unknown sources (like most Android phones have). Personally I'd rather not root or "jailbreak" my phone, though there are occasional instances where I need to install an application that's not in the phone's store (for whatever reason).

I'm no fan of Metro either.

part of the problem is the xbox gaming on windowsphone. they flat out screwed up. its awful. they told everyone it was going to be great, and it should have. but they haven't delivered.

Apps are not the solution to the problem. Microsoft can go tomorrow and pony up a ton of money to get all the apps you can think of,and it still wont make a lick of a difference. They can do it if they want to, but they don't have to.

Look at ios and android. Most of those phones sold are low priced phones. 3/4 or more of iphones sold are 3gs/4/4s. Most androids are low priced dumbphone like phones. These platforms are also in a bunch of more markets than windows phone.

Nokia is starting to do pretty good,in fact they could have sold a **** ton more lumias if they weren't so cash strapped,and having production issues. with the lower priced 505,510,610,620,710,810,800,820, expect them to penetrate more of the market. Nokia is just entering China and India, huge markets with a lot of potential.

LG is coming back to windows phone,because they obviously feel like there is potential. Huawei is also a huge deal.

Marketshare is going to keep groing,and that only means developers are going to have to target the platform.

There are a lot of big name apps in the pipeline for WP8. Developers are promising that these apps are coming. Remember the SDK was only out a few months ago,so I don't see how some people can complain if the promised apps aren't out yet. A lot of major banks have promised apps. Gameloft has said it is releading some of their biggest games like modern kombat 4,nova3,asphalt7,batman,spiderman. EA sports is releasing their games, madden,fifa,etc..

Unity is releasing their game engine for windows phone,which mean there are going to be a **** ton of games for windows phone. Unity makes it easy to create a game that will easily compile to any platform. If there is a game built and compiled for android or ios,it can easily be compiled for windows phone with little to no modification. Games like temple run,shadowgun run on Unity.

Microsoft is also working on unifying all windows platforms,so again,this is another huge step,and a big advantage. It is ****in insane.

Things are definitely looking on the up for Windows Phone.

As a wp8 user, Microsoft needs to get off its ass and start rolling out frequent updates to address problems people are having right now. Its always the same ****: Update given a fancy code name and and then you get to sit around and wait 4 months till they decide to have a launch party. Mobile phones are not desktop pcs nor is this Xbox land. Same tactics do not apply.

AR556 said,
As a wp8 user, Microsoft needs to get off its ass and start rolling out frequent updates to address problems people are having right now. Its always the same ****: Update given a fancy code name and and then you get to sit around and wait 4 months till they decide to have a launch party. Mobile phones are not desktop pcs nor is this Xbox land. Same tactics do not apply.

How many updates do you need? They've already released one such updated for WP8 devices. Are you looking for more features? Those things take time to develop, and you'll only see those maybe once or twice a year.

Dot Matrix said,

How many updates do you need? They've already released one such updated for WP8 devices. Are you looking for more features? Those things take time to develop, and you'll only see those maybe once or twice a year.

MS should launch its own device, update it the way my Windows is updated and send the carriers to hell. Note that I used the word "device" intentionally: what we have today, and hopefully, even more tomorrow are not simply phones. Would you be happy if your new Tablet, made by XYZ, that you bought from ABC store could not receive updates until both these middlemen had "tested" and "approved" the updates?

1.Random battery drain with no way to see what sucking the cpu cause they didn't think a task manager was necessary,

2. Auto brightness is useless. After Portico, it can't seem to decide how bright it wants to be. I just set mine to low, but a phone reboot causes the brightness to go high, so then you have to change it manually again.

3. People are still reporting random reboot issues after Portico was supposed to fix that very problem.

4. No way to actually close apps without going rapid-fire on the back button. Stupid...stupid....stupid.....

5. In IE, the keyboard opens then closes on some websites. wpcentral and eightforums are examples.

There's 5 widely known problems they could get started on right now, but we'll have to wait till they have a launch party for "Passion Fruit" or "Harry Mounds" or whatever they decide to code name it

AR556 said,
1.Random battery drain with no way to see what sucking the cpu cause they didn't think a task manager was necessary,

Outside of push, music and navigation, there are no running backround apps on WP8.

5. In IE, the keyboard opens then closes on some websites. wpcentral and eightforums are examples.

My iPad does the same thing on a lot of sites.

Sorry but that is absolutely false. There is even a section that allows you to manage background apps, but its very limited and doesn't allow you to control much. As for the keyboard problem, while its nice that its happening on other platforms, that doesn't excuse the fact it needs addressed.

AR556 said,
Sorry but that is absolutely false. There is even a section that allows you to manage background apps, but its very limited and doesn't allow you to control much. As for the keyboard problem, while its nice that its happening on other platforms, that doesn't excuse the fact it needs addressed.

Those are for things like live tiles and lockscreen. If you look at the API, what they can do is very limited, and they can only run for a very short period of time every x minutes.

Mordkanin said,

Those are for things like live tiles and lockscreen. If you look at the API, what they can do is very limited, and they can only run for a very short period of time every x minutes.

Not being a developer, I cannot argue the point further. What I can argue is something is definitely hanging in the background causing heat build-up and rapid battery drain. Again, it would be nice if we lowly, unworthy dumbass users could see what the hell is going on in the background.

When you're in this game you don't have a plan B... The things that will help Windows Phone succeed are more quality and big name apps (we want mainstream support like iOS has), more marketing to penetrate consumers understanding of phone OSes as well as features that set it from the flood of Android and iOS devices.

By FAR the biggest mainstream app is Office - not available on iOS. Not available on Android. Moreover, Surface Pro has an enormous ecosystem that make Apple's iPad app collection look tiny.

They need to get there stuff together. They said they would have a Pandora apps and some others. I've yet to see it. Xbox Music is horrible. There is no Xbox Video on wp8. And don't get me started on syncing music and pictures to my phone!!!

This Microsoft fanboy is NOT f'ing happy. Hire a few more people and get this stuff rolling!! Or start canning some people that aren't preforming.

Wasn't the Surface to be the successor to the Windows Phone, and when it "took hold," the Windows Phone would be allowed to die a quiet death? After all, wasn't Windows-8 just Phone-8 on steroids? Thus, the no Plan B for the Windows Phone comes as no surprise. Just more conflicted Microsoft at work.

TsarNikky said,
Wasn't the Surface to be the successor to the Windows Phone, and when it "took hold," the Windows Phone would be allowed to die a quiet death? After all, wasn't Windows-8 just Phone-8 on steroids? Thus, the no Plan B for the Windows Phone comes as no surprise. Just more conflicted Microsoft at work.

This question absolutely makes no sense.

TsarNikky said,
Wasn't the Surface to be the successor to the Windows Phone, and when it "took hold," the Windows Phone would be allowed to die a quiet death? After all, wasn't Windows-8 just Phone-8 on steroids? Thus, the no Plan B for the Windows Phone comes as no surprise. Just more conflicted Microsoft at work.

Windows Phone 7 is Windows CE-based. Windows Phone 8 is Windows NT-based... backed by the full power of Windows 8 and RT. It's more like Windows RT with a different start screen, optimized for small screens.

The question is... you put Windows Phone on large phones, and Windows RT on small tablets... where is the dividing line between the two platforms? Why are the separate? I don't believe they should be. You should be able to choose between the WP and RT bits. Or plug your phone into an external monitor and run full Windows RT.

They have all the bits in place. They just need the last push.

What's sad with Windows Phone is that it's an excellent platform, but it's 3 years late…

When Apple released their first iPhone, it was time for Microsoft to make a move and start thinking about a new platform… instead, they sat on their a$$, continued with Windows Mobile 6.5 and acted like the iPhone didn't exist.

Google made the right move and they reacted promptly.

First iPhone: June 2007
First Android phone: September 2008
First Windows Phone: October 2010

Duhhh? Really MS? That late?

Edited by myxomatosis, Feb 15 2013, 2:22am :

you can look at it that way on the phone side of things, but what you are missing I think is the whole unification that is going on and I think a lot of people are missing this also. you will wake up one day soon and every device will run the same os and be able to install the same apps and games and Microsoft are way ahead of the game in that scenario. you will have different devices from small form factor all the way upto very large screened devices ( I will not call them pc's now, just maybe personal device) and all these devices will run the same and integrate perfectly with each other where ever you may be. That is what MS is trying to do here, they had to wait till the main OS was ready to go before they could start integrating across different devices. that's why we had WP7, just a stop gap until they could get 8 ready for mainstream. Things are gonna change dramatically over the next year or two, and apple and google will be the ones that are behind a year or two.

That was absolutely one of their biggest mistakes. It's a fact that MS didn't start developing WP7 until AFTER the iPhone was a success. Further, they had basically planned on abandoning their WM6.x customers, which of course they did. Why they had essentially no next gen phone research in the pipeline is beyond perplexing. They proceeded to slap together a platform from their existing technologies, i.e. a gimped mixture of silverlight and XNA, both of which were at the end of their lines. The list of problems just goes on.

BUT, they are at least very committed to continuing in the smartphone market, which I think will eventually pay off as they further unify their platforms.

Salutary7 said,
That was absolutely one of their biggest mistakes. It's a fact that MS didn't start developing WP7 until AFTER the iPhone was a success.

Remember that it wasn't just Microsoft that screwed up. RIMM, Symbian, everyone got blindsided by the iPhone. RIMM took even longer than Microsoft to change direction. Symbian never caught up.

Everyone, that is, except Android. If you believe Steve Jobs, this is because Eric Schmidt was on Apple's board, so he had inside information about what was going on. Earlier versions of Android sought to clone Blackberry. Later versions showed an abrupt shift towards touchscreens.

I agree that Microsoft was late. They should've started work on Windows Phone in 2007 instead of 2008, which would've allowed them to release in 2009 instead of 2010. That one year might've made all the difference. Realistically, though, Microsoft probably didn't have enough information to start work in 2006 on a fast-follow strategy.

To be completely accurate it is necessary to mention that MS scrapped "Photon"which was supposed to be the successor of WM6.XX in 2008 after another big reorganization. That is the reason they got late, they restarted from scratch.
If you check the articles about Photon you will see that it was supposed to be very advanced. Of course history is not made on IF but.....

How a camera captures an LCD in a photo is very different to how the eye perceives the screen... which incidentally are both totally different to how companies market you will perceive them!!

Why would they have one?
If Windows Phone was to "fail", it is likely that Microsoft next move in this market would end up with similar results.

Windows Phone is an excellent platform, with the most distinctive offering in the market. Until it proves a dead end, the best route is to continue making it better. Gaining global acceptance cannot be done instantly. And it takes even longer when a market is massively dominated.

"How you do get to Carnegie Hall?" Practice, practice, practice.

There's no shortcut to success. All you can do is to keep plugging away at it. People will ridicule your low market share, and claim that it's already over. They're wrong. Because one day, your competitor will stumble. And *that* is when you pounce on the opportunity.

Look at what happened with spreadsheets. Microsoft first released Multiplan in 1982. They did not get a majority share in the spreadsheet market until 1994 -- ** TWELVE YEARS ** later. Imagine some investment banker came along in 1989 and said, "You've been at it for 7 years now, and all you have to show for it is a measly 10% market share. What's your Plan B?"

Or web browsers. Netscape was dead, dead, dead. Shouldn't they simply stop development and give up? After all, it was hopeless. Internet Explorer had 90% market share. Everyone knows that software is a winner-take-all market. You can't recover from single-digit market share. Cut your losses and give up, right? But would Firefox have been able to strike when IE stumbled?
Or even Apple, the comeback kid. Apple's market share kept going *down* in the first few years after Steve Jobs came back. Yes, they were selling more units, but the PC market was growing faster than Apple was. Obviously, this was never going to work out, right?

"Microsoft still has a long way to go to build on that market share, but it appears Windows Phone and the unified ecosystem is the only way forward."
Unfortunately, one of the biggest selling points for Microsoft to bring home a eco system is being passed up. One that not only is being passed up, but also pushing people away.
I make no qualms over the fact that I do enjoy the Microsoft platform as a whole, however their policy of buying apps and games is just wrong.

What Microsoft should be doing, is buy once, play/use anywhere.

What is happening, you buy and xbox live title on the 360, you then have to re-buy the same title again on the Windows Phone and we'll have to buy it again on the Windows RT platform.

It boggles the mind that the same game, on the same XBOX LIVE brand, on the same eco system, under the same company brand on the same Microsoft Account has to be paid for 3 times.
This itself is enough to push people away, however. Imagine for a moment if you didn't. That you paid once, and you could play on any platform.

It's something Microsoft needs to address, release a few more cross platform apps/games and hopefully create a true unified ecosystem for themselves. It'd certainly help people move over to Windows Phone, the xbox if they knew a everything works across the range as long as they are signed in on their Microsoft account.

sagum said,
"Microsoft still has a long way to go to build on that market share, but it appears Windows Phone and the unified ecosystem is the only way forward."
Unfortunately, one of the biggest selling points for Microsoft to bring home a eco system is being passed up. One that not only is being passed up, but also pushing people away.
I make no qualms over the fact that I do enjoy the Microsoft platform as a whole, however their policy of buying apps and games is just wrong.

What Microsoft should be doing, is buy once, play/use anywhere.

What is happening, you buy and xbox live title on the 360, you then have to re-buy the same title again on the Windows Phone and we'll have to buy it again on the Windows RT platform.

It boggles the mind that the same game, on the same XBOX LIVE brand, on the same eco system, under the same company brand on the same Microsoft Account has to be paid for 3 times.
This itself is enough to push people away, however. Imagine for a moment if you didn't. That you paid once, and you could play on any platform.

It's something Microsoft needs to address, release a few more cross platform apps/games and hopefully create a true unified ecosystem for themselves. It'd certainly help people move over to Windows Phone, the xbox if they knew a everything works across the range as long as they are signed in on their Microsoft account.

because the game on Windows Phone isnt exactly the same as it is on Windiws RT. Its not like iPad which is just a giant iPod Touch

sagum said,
"Microsoft still has a long way to go to build on that market share, but it appears Windows Phone and the unified ecosystem is the only way forward."
Unfortunately, one of the biggest selling points for Microsoft to bring home a eco system is being passed up. One that not only is being passed up, but also pushing people away.
I make no qualms over the fact that I do enjoy the Microsoft platform as a whole, however their policy of buying apps and games is just wrong.

What Microsoft should be doing, is buy once, play/use anywhere.

What is happening, you buy and xbox live title on the 360, you then have to re-buy the same title again on the Windows Phone and we'll have to buy it again on the Windows RT platform.

It boggles the mind that the same game, on the same XBOX LIVE brand, on the same eco system, under the same company brand on the same Microsoft Account has to be paid for 3 times.
This itself is enough to push people away, however. Imagine for a moment if you didn't. That you paid once, and you could play on any platform.

It's something Microsoft needs to address, release a few more cross platform apps/games and hopefully create a true unified ecosystem for themselves. It'd certainly help people move over to Windows Phone, the xbox if they knew a everything works across the range as long as they are signed in on their Microsoft account.

I share your opinion but also believe they are working on this with blue, now that the kernel is shared and the ecosystem is more unified it should be doable.

There are already hints that blue will make this very scenario possible, and it makes absolute sense as you said.

The point above about the iPad being just a big iPod touch, while true you have to bear in mind that devs still put in different assets to be used on different devices (graphics etc.), so long as they can make blue in a way that allows the same code to run on all devices with a simple selection of assets depending on screen size etc. they will have a winner.

I think we will learn a lot more when the next Xbox is revealed, I can imagine this running a lot of the apps made for RT and WP - the ecosystem will be so much more powerful if you buy once and play on WP/RT/Xbox and with the 'Blue' update set to be more of a wave update affecting multiple products we can dream

sagum said,
What Microsoft should be doing, is buy once, play/use anywhere.

That would be nice, except they are different pieces software for each platform. If they can find a way to make one "app" work on all platforms, that's doable. But right now I can see why the costs are split up between platforms... because the developer is having to cover each platform with more work.

sagum said,
What Microsoft should be doing, is buy once, play/use anywhere.

What is happening, you buy and xbox live title on the 360, you then have to re-buy the same title again on the Windows Phone and we'll have to buy it again on the Windows RT platform.

It boggles the mind that the same game, on the same XBOX LIVE brand, on the same eco system, under the same company brand on the same Microsoft Account has to be paid for 3 times.
This itself is enough to push people away, however. Imagine for a moment if you didn't. That you paid once, and you could play on any platform.

Apple does exactly the same thing. If you buy an app on iPhone you have to buy it again on iPad and Mac OS. And if they ever launch an AppleTV store you will have to buy the app a 4th time from Apple.

iPhone app
iPad app
Mac OS app
Applet TV app

Why do people hold Microsoft to a different standard? I've seen this ignorant comment about how you should only need to buy an app once and it should work on every platform. The closest you'll see to that is a subscription service that licenses you to use the service on up to 5 or 6 devices like Office 365.

Avatar Roku said,

Apple does exactly the same thing. If you buy an app on iPhone you have to buy it again on iPad and Mac OS.

Besides the obvious fact that MS and Apple have different market shares and this could be a great way to promote the platform I cannot care less what other OSes do; I buy a smartphone, Lumia 920 in my case, it because I like it; if, for example, it has a problem comments like well Apple or Android have the same issue are.... irrelevant. If your house is on fire does the fact that my house is on fire too help you? I do not think so.
If you want to get ahead of the competition you should offer something different and or more that they do offer.