Microsoft's Terry Myerson: Android is "a mess", no need for Surface phone, and more on WP8

Terry Myerson, the corporate vice president for Windows Phone at Microsoft, has taken some time today at AllThingsD's Dive Into Mobile conference in New York City to discuss various aspects of Windows Phone. Host Ina Fried managed to get some interesting tidbits out of Myerson relating to the platform and its competitors, including how Microsoft feels about its Windows Phone OEMs.

When Myerson was asked about where Windows Phone was seeing the most success, he responded by highlighting how well WP8 is doing outside of subsidized markets. Where a $650 product is being sold for $200 - markets such as the United States, which are a focus for Apple and Samsung - Windows Phone hasn't been as successful as the market is crowded with similarly priced phones.

For us, the momentum we're building is with building a phone we can offer for less than $650 [unsubsidized]. [...] one of the biggest opportunities for us is that not everyone can afford a $650 phone. In the US, it seems that every [major] phone is $200, so we're forced to challenge at the same price. That's a playing field that's a little harder. [...] For where we’re at right now, the focus is to really get to 200 million phones a year through the current model.

He also mentioned how Microsoft is focusing on being successful somewhere before being successful everywhere, and it seems the unsubsidized markets are those key areas to focus on being successful. Myerson said that the team thinks of Windows Phone as "an incredibly well-funded start-up" in a "challenger position" at the moment.

The conversation shifted away from Windows Phone, and Myerson shared his opinion on the other platforms in today's smartphone landscape. He believes that Android is "kind of a mess", and that because Samsung is the only OEM making money from the platform, that "there's clearly a mutiny going on". He also "sense[s] urgency" when it comes to the iPhone and iOS, pointing to how iOS 5 did little to change the user experience: it "just added a fifth row of icons".

When pushed on hardware OEMs for Windows Phone, Myerson stressed that Microsoft wants any Windows Phone partner to be successful, although they aren't looking for a ton of OEMs. "For us, seeing HTC and Nokia successful is most important to us right now. We're focused on making our core partners successful right now." He also said that Nokia is a "great partner for Microsoft" after being questioned on how they feel its partners are going.

Finally, the possibility of a Microsoft-made phone popped up during discussion, with Myerson stating that "it would have to be something where Nokia or HTC was not providing the consumer experience we think is possible with our platform". It looks like the Surface Phone definitely remains a Plan B at Microsoft, rather than a path they're actively pursuing at this time.

Source: Engadget | The Verge | Image via Engadget

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well I've owned all three mobile operating systems, and used them for an extended period of time. He's kind of right. Android is a bit of a mess and needs a little more focus. They are getting there, slowly but surely. The phones in my house. iPhone 5, Nexus 4, Nokia 820. I'm lucky enough to be running a BYOD project at work so got all the handsets in to evaluate. Id say in order of operating system efficiency. iOS, Android, Windows 8. The iPhone just does things easier without having to even think. Now being a bit of an IT geek, I personally like the Nexus and prefer that over the rest for my own reasons. That said, from an unbiased viewpoint, iOS is still kind of the mobile OS world. Here's something I did only the other day just to quickly sum up:

Video calling:

iOS: Press home button, say 'facetime karen' - Video calls my sister, DONE.

Android: No video calling available with stock OS. Come on, they had this working in 1997 FFS! Download Skype. Have to get all my friends to do the same. Issue with linking Skype and windows accounts, friends are never signed in to it, buggy software, had to remove and re add accounts on the nexus for it to work. Nightmare. Tried Google+ again had to get all my friends on a google+ account. Added them as friends, created a hangout, nobody could join the hangout. Had to mess around adding and re-adding contacts. Quality nowhere near the same as facetime when we did get it working.

That's just video calling. There are hundreds of other examples.

Automatically syncing photos to the cloud. I think google have just released this with Google+ but it doesn't seamlessly link into my gallery app. It's the little things which they have to concentrate on. Why should I have to go into google+ to see which photos have uploaded. This should all be tied in together IMHO. Unless I'm missing something?

My Android Nexus 4 is a total mess

How come it recognizes what I say? As Microsoft taught us, voice recognition should never work! it should only work in commercials, what do you mean you can tell your phone to remind you of an appointment and your phone will really do? that is absurd

It is soooo messy and full with these so called Apps! soo many of them, Phones are not for Apps people, they are for Excel and Word, if you can really call what on Windows Phone Word

What do you mean you can customize it? no you should not! if His Holiness Mr. Ballmer said let it be no "Something" then you should never ever be able to do it, like removing the shutdown option over RDP on the real Windows 8 (not the fake 8 on the phones) like removing the Aero glass, etc

Customization should be FORBIDDEN, and anyone who practices it beyond what the Holly Microsoft allowed shall be called mess (well we prefer executed but that will affect sales, we still need him as a customer), because the users are VEEERY Stupid! all these engineers, Doctors, Scientists, etc are stupid and should not be allowed to change things as they want! Noooooo

Go used your Windows 8 Phone yourself!

So WP is doing better in not subsidized market? No surprise here but if so why Nokia keep releases Flagship devices to AT&T with exclusivity for a couple of months? And why my Lumia 920, SIM free and unbranded receive update much later than branded devices?
And why I have to wait for OEM to certify updates instead o being able to use Windows Update as I do on my PC?
What a schizophrenic behaviour...

Fritzly said,
So WP is doing better in not subsidized market? No surprise here but if so why Nokia keep releases Flagship devices to AT&T with exclusivity for a couple of months? And why my Lumia 920, SIM free and unbranded receive update much later than branded devices?
And why I have to wait for OEM to certify updates instead o being able to use Windows Update as I do on my PC?
What a schizophrenic behaviour...

you can manually update the Lumia's. Nokia has all ROMs, each and every release up for grabs on a public accessable FTP.

Shadowzz said,

you can manually update the Lumia's. Nokia has all ROMs, each and every release up for grabs on a public accessable FTP.

Yes you can but.... Nokia was supposed to block access to Navifirm in January, it seems that so far they did not but it is still a workaround; when you use Windows Update you do not have to go searching lists of available firmware and choose the right one hoping that the site will still be available for the next round of updates. Not to mention the average user dealing with Navifirm.

Really have to ask why he has time to diss android when WP is still basically incomplete and so far behind in functionality and marketshare. And when such a "mess" is outselling your product by about 200:1 maybe you need to examine if your product is even worse than the "mess". Git.

Yea. To sell millions of phone, to millions of heterogeneous users, you have to be open enough to accommodate them all. Most, could care less as long as the phone's cellular works, and the apps they like to use are available and work. That's why so many have never updated, or care about updating their phone OS. If it does what they need, why would regular people become anal about that sort of thing?

Security is always an issue, but in general, people don't buy a phone to worry about what someone else's UI looks like, or OS upgrades.

iOS hasn't made much change to the user experience, well, until users become dissatisfied, why would they need to? Change for the sake of change? I do think iOS 7 will bring some change but there's an old saying that is tried and true: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

iOS started the Eco-System drive and it has dominated. WP saw the potential and followed the lead started by Apple.

Android is starting to play catch up only on the cloud based sync items such as Music, Chrome, and Docs. But since each Manufacturer can pretty much skin their systems it makes it hard to a user to move over to another Android based phone and be able to use it.

Android is all over the board with the systems they continue to support. They have not mandated a common theme/user experience or even set a guideline.

The TouchWiz, HTC Sense, LG's Optimus UI, Sony's Experia UI, etc.

An common Android user cannot jump ship from one phone manufacturer to another and just feel right at home. There are multiple versions of the Android experience within each phone manufacturer that makes it even harder to learn.

Myerson correctly pointed out that Samsung is the only Phone Manufacturer making actual money on their phones.

Android needs to set a guideline where the experience is like their Nexus Device(Pure Vanilla) and them allow people who understand themes to theme it. Otherwise people who don't understand or care have their base experience to work with.

I ordered my HTC One Dev. Edition and will see what it is like. I would jump all over a chance to get an HTC ONE running WP 8/9

Nokia and HTC needs to step up on the production of a higher end phone with slim profiles and features. Samsung has shown that they want nothing much to do with WP 8 currently. LG's also not that interested. Hopefully some others will kick in and push the efforts.

mrmomoman said,

Android is all over the board with the systems they continue to support. They have not mandated a common theme/user experience or even set a guideline.

Because that is not what Android is all about. OEMs need to take control here and limit their models to just a few. That would allow better support and reduce the number of different devices floating around.

techbeck said,

Because that is not what Android is all about. OEMs need to take control here and limit their models to just a few. That would allow better support and reduce the number of different devices floating around.


I agree 1000% lest everyone dress as Fidel Castro as well, let it be only one uniform for humanity with the choice to choose from a few carefully selected colors!

Thanks good that the way software developers think is very isolated, otherwise the world would have been a horrible place to live in, and everyone will be very happy like in North Korea (repainted by the presentation layer)

Android fans will never admit to it being a mess. To do so, requires that they have a contrarian view of their community, and be open to questioning the platform for its weaknesses and its strengths -- without bias.

Fan boys never do this, which is why they're fan boys.

ahinson said,
Android fans will never admit to it being a mess. To do so, requires that they have a contrarian view of their community, and be open to questioning the platform for its weaknesses and its strengths, rather than only focusing on the strong points.

Fan boys never do this, which is why they're fan boys.

Android's weak spot is the OEMs not updating the OS at all, or quick enough. One of the reasons I am sticking with Nexus devices.

Android is a mess in that it's highly fragmented and every carrier sees the need to slap on a custom UI. Otherwise, it's fine.

Agreed. My old SGS received Froyo 1.5 yrs after it became generally available, even though it was released a few months after the phone began shipping.

The combination of Samsung and ATT resulted in a catastrophic delay in releasing updates.

Not to mention Samsung's claims that the SGS's hardware wasn't capable of running ICS. Which was an obvious lie, since the modding community was capable of releasing a workable version.

I'll never buy another Samsung device.

Xilo said,
Android is a mess in that it's highly fragmented and every carrier sees the need to slap on a custom UI. Otherwise, it's fine.
This is just its biggest problem.

The only reason I would consider windows phone is if Microsoft would release a surface phone. Why Is there no phone with a molded magnesium case? I mean that's the only bit they got right the build quality of the thing.

Mess? How so?

You are able to change some on Android such as themes, widgets, etc. that does not require root.

Unless you want more advanced features, you will have to root your phone for that.

You can not do a thing on Apple devices unless jailbreaking it. Not sure jailbreaking is allowed or not on 6.1.3 and beyond. Unless someone is smart enough to find a way to jailbreak.

I have not tried WP8 yet... I am sure you can change colors on tiles... And change size on tiles... that's all I know.

shozilla said,
...I have not tried WP8 yet... I am sure you can change colors on tiles... And change size on tiles... that's all I know.
You're actually very limited on color choice on WP. You can change the background color (theme), which affects everything, but you can't alter the color of individual tiles directly. Based on what I've seen, MS/Nokia is working on making more customization available in the coming updates.

All platforms have their problems, including WP, which has a host of problems that are all their own. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

He can say android is a mess all he wants but show me another mobile OS that has the customization potential that android has. Windows Phone sure as heck doesn't.

If I don't like something about android I can change it so it functions exactly how I want it to. With Windows Phone, I'm stuck with whatever the pigheaded UX Designers at MS think is best for me. So if choice makes an OS a mess, then by all means, android is a hot mess lol.

Chris123NT said,
Windows Phone sure as heck doesn't.


And that's what I love about it. It's simple, customizable enough, and doesn't put a bunch of flashy **** that gets in the way of my phone being a phone.

WP is about halfway between iOS and Android as far as customizability goes, and IMO that's the sweet spot.

Chris123NT said,
He can say android is a mess all he wants but show me another mobile OS that has the customization potential that android has. Windows Phone sure as heck doesn't.

If I don't like something about android I can change it so it functions exactly how I want it to. With Windows Phone, I'm stuck with whatever the pigheaded UX Designers at MS think is best for me. So if choice makes an OS a mess, then by all means, android is a hot mess lol.

So, are you speaking about customization after you root it? Because I don't recall being able to do anything different when I had my Droid Incredible compared to my current Lumia other than having multiple desktops.

Then again, maybe I just don't care as my Lumia does everything I need it to.

Customization != not a mess

You can have a customizable yet very messy OS, which is what Android is. Really, you have to look at devices like the nexus to see Android in a "clean" state, but then you've fragmented yourself to only high-end devices. When you start including $100 2.2 devices that are still being sold in stores, yeah, it's kind of a mess.

Dont think he was commenting on anything specific on Android. He said that it is a mess because Samsung is the only android OEM making a profit.

Chris123NT said,
He can say android is a mess all he wants but show me another mobile OS that has the customization potential that android has. Windows Phone sure as heck doesn't.

If I don't like something about android I can change it so it functions exactly how I want it to. With Windows Phone, I'm stuck with whatever the pigheaded UX Designers at MS think is best for me. So if choice makes an OS a mess, then by all means, android is a hot mess lol.

I don't think you are interpreting what he means by mess. Android is fragmented, if I go from a Samsung TouchWiz based phone to an HTC Sense based phone the UIs are totally different, fragmentation on a platform is never good for consumers or the product in general. Yes, if you root that is, Android is customisable as hell but the mess is coming from the OEMs not the users being able to customise.

You are missing the point. Android is a mess for the general consumers which do not care about "customisability". These are the same consumers that will not update their phone. These are the same consumers that will buy a lower power android device with an unoptimized UI. i.e. Most of the android market.

These are the same consumers MS is aiming for in the long run.

Take a look at this report:
http://press.trendforce.com/tw/node/5362

It pretty much shows that the retention rate for Nokia devices is the highest in its class with the least amount of people wanting to switch to a Samsung SIV.

But they aren't all that different. It's more like if you went from your windows 7 pc to another persons windows 7 pc. Sure, the desktop, icons, and other things might be in a different place and look a little different, but the core functionality of the system is the same. It's only the aesthetics that are really different, and even then, it is very slight differences.
If anything is messy about Android, it is normally the user using it that has done that. They are really more simplistic then what people lead them on to be.

ingramator said,

I don't think you are interpreting what he means by mess. Android is fragmented, if I go from a Samsung TouchWiz based phone to an HTC Sense based phone the UIs are totally different,

May be an issue for some...but I know of no one that had an issue going from a Samsung to HTC device. Old or young people...Android is not a hard OS to learn/adapt to. Tho I think OEMs should stick with vanilla android.

Chris123NT said,
He can say android is a mess all he wants but show me another mobile OS that has the customization potential that android has. Windows Phone sure as heck doesn't.

Usually when people are saying "Android is a mess" the primary focus of that remark is around the fact that there are more base versions out in the wild than people have digits. Add the fact that every handset maker feels compelled to apply their own UI makes Android very very fragmented.

Yes one can root their device and clean up the mess that's been put on the device, but a vast majority of people who have smart phones just aren't going to do that, hence the fragmentation just perpetuates itself.

Even so the folks in the Windows Phone group need to keep that challenger mentality and continue to innovate. Android device makers have done a good job of innovating at the expense of fragmentation while the iPhone hasn't seen genuine innovation in years.