Editorial

Windows Phone 7: Why it's failing

With the “Nodo” WP7 update fiasco finally reaching its unceremonious and unhappy conclusion, it’s hard to be optimistic about Microsoft’s stake in the smartphone market. The expectation was that after a few months of intense marketing and time for users to get used to the differences and advantages that WP7 brings to the table, sales would steadily increase to make WP7 the third major player in the mobile world. It shouldn’t necessarily be called “Nodo –gate,” but the PR nightmare that this update has become is not going to bode well for phone sales. This comes after Microsoft market share already dropped 1.7% in three months from October 2010 to January 2011, according to Comscore.

Image Source: Comscore

Watching Microsoft flounder about on the release of the first update to its preeminent mobile software is an uncomfortable experience. WP7 is do-or-die for the company that had been attempting to beat out Android and iOS with a significantly subpar Windows Mobile 6.5 OS. It’s do-or-die, and it’s late. Microsoft entered the market when Google and Apple already had entrenched user bases and established carrier agreements and sales figures. If you’re going to risk your whole mobile strategy on a late to the market OS, it has to be good the first time, and if you need to issue an update, it better be as smooth as butter. First adopters don’t have a lot of patience when there are other, sometimes arguably better options in the iOS and Android world. At least with Android, it’s no secret that your carrier update is going to take a long time. Consumers have taken this with a grain of salt to begin with, and Google doesn’t keep this strategy a secret. Fragmentation issues have plagued them from the beginning, and this is but a symptom. Microsoft, on the other hand, went out of their way to make sure that every handset shipping with WP7 has very specific hardware requirements and configurations. Issuing WP7 OS updates should not take this long, or be this awkwardly implemented.

Microsoft should be taking cues from its highly successful console gaming segment. From a purely comparative standpoint, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 would stand no chance against Sony’s PS3 and Nintendo’s Wii if it was released today. Sony has better hardware, free online services, and a catalog that leans heavily towards the long time and hard core gamer. Wii has the family friendly library, the intuitive and innovative (at the time) controller, and a great marketing department. Xbox 360 had astonishingly high hardware failures, a premium online service, sub-par and non-exclusive launch game catalog, was loud and bulky, you had to pay way too much for a wireless adapter, and in general wouldn’t be able to compete with the competition with its launch issues. However, Microsoft has one thing going for them that Sony and Nintendo do not. They came out early, they came out strong, and they continuously improve their services with regular and smooth updates. While it wasn’t a perfect console by any means, Microsoft was ready when Sony and Nintendo came a-knocking. It lost market share, as the two competing consoles are valid contenders in their own right, but Microsoft was able to sustain a significant market share throughout. Add to the mix the wildly successful and record breaking Kinect platform and you’ve got one of the greatest Microsoft success stories since Windows was unleashed on the unsuspecting public.

If Microsoft was suffering this bumpy road two years ago, the stakes wouldn’t be as high. We could brush it off as a new technology with all the trials and tribulations that innovation inevitably drags along with it. However, Microsoft has no time for this now. They can’t afford to be this late to the party, and then fumble around for an excuse as to why their beer isn’t cold.

Microsoft’s deal with Nokia might be its saving grace. The immediately increased hardware base could give Microsoft the needed momentum to get past the growing pains that the Nodo update has shown us the reality of. On the other hand, if Microsoft inherits a huge entity like the Symbian OS, and is still plagued by the hurdles it is still trying the get over, it may only make things worse. WP7 has been critically acclaimed for its streamlined UI and user-friendly feature set, but quality isn’t the only factor in successful sales push. Microsoft needs to get their act back together of they hope to ultimately be successful again in the mobile world.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

RIM announces Android app support for Blackberry Playbook

Next Story

Windows 8 'system reset' image leaks [Update]

210 Comments

View more comments

Pssst! Want to know why I didn't buy a windows phone 7?

Because I was once the owner o a windows mobile 6.1 phone! God I hated that clunky piece of crap. I sure miss my stylin stylus lol!!! I tried to like win mobile, I even forced the "love" by flashing custom 6.5 roms. It took me a while to come to my senses and realize Microsoft just sucked at the phone. I was one of those people, who didn't want to admit the iPhone was waaaay better than the w'mobile platform.

I'm glad I realized that Microsoft phones would always suck. Im glad I stuck it out until Verizon adopted the iPhone tho. I love the iPhone. I don't have to flash roms everyday to love the device. It just....works. And works well. I just wish Verizon got iOS updates like the rest of the world...it's starting to **** me off!

dbdank said,
Pssst! Want to know why I didn't buy a windows phone 7?

Because I was once the owner o a windows mobile 6.1 phone! God I hated that clunky piece of crap. I sure miss my stylin stylus lol!!! I tried to like win mobile, I even forced the "love" by flashing custom 6.5 roms. It took me a while to come to my senses and realize Microsoft just sucked at the phone. I was one of those people, who didn't want to admit the iPhone was waaaay better than the w'mobile platform.

I'm glad I realized that Microsoft phones would always suck. Im glad I stuck it out until Verizon adopted the iPhone tho. I love the iPhone. I don't have to flash roms everyday to love the device. It just....works. And works well. I just wish Verizon got iOS updates like the rest of the world...it's starting to **** me off!

I had the exact same revolation, but I had to suffer through Win Mobile 5. I was sure checking for "Windows Updates" to fix all the problems, but not one for the years I owned it.

I always dissed Apple because of Macs, but they got it right with iPhone. It's so powerful, quick, easy.. almost perfect. I wish it had a few more cloud file sharing services and maybe and SD slot... But regardless, I once was blind and now I see.

dbdank said,
I was one of those people, who didn't want to admit the iPhone was waaaay better than the w'mobile platform.
Just to be clear, Windows Mobile 6.x and Windows Phone 7 are completely different. They started fresh from the OS perspective.

With that said, I can understand losing faith in a company's model, and believing they just don't "get it."

dbdank said,
I just wish Verizon got iOS updates like the rest of the world...it's starting to **** me off!
To help put your mind at ease, I believe that iOS 4.2.6, on the Verizon iPhone, is practically feature identical to 4.3 on the GSM iPhone's. Similar to the iPad, I imagine the lack of movement for the Verizon iPhone relates to the fact that they now have to merge things. You may be missing the recent Safari improvements though, but I doubt you'd notice it too much regardless.

This is the result of the level of secrecy at Apple. Part of the iOS team probably didn't even know active, real development for the CDMA iPhone was happening, and thus those changes now have to be merged together. Merging large code bases can be a serious time sink, and to make sure it's done without [many] bugs can take a very long. It's a little crazy that Apple's secrecy causes this, but your phone will eventually sync up. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't until iOS 5.0 though, but that's only 3-4 months away now and should result in a few cool features at least.

Windows Mobile 7 promised a lot, and delivered very little. Fragmentation? Not a problem Microsoft says. We'll just dictate the specifications to OEM's, that'll solve that. Well, not quite it seems...

Windows mobile platforms 6.5/7 are going to fade into obscurity; even Nokia can't them.

Flawed said,
Windows Mobile 7 promised a lot, and delivered very little. Fragmentation? Not a problem Microsoft says. We'll just dictate the specifications to OEM's, that'll solve that. Well, not quite it seems...
Every single phone is getting the update. Every single one.

Windows Mobile 7 does not exist. Windows Phone 7 does. It is a completely different OS under the hood from WM6.x.

I am getting sick and tired of articles that declare the death of something that just started its existence. Why XYZ is failing... come on, at some time in the future iOS will fail. You have a chart with two numbers. Even iOS only made +0.1%. This can hardly be used as a measure to predict the future. Good for a controversial article sure, but does it have content? I think not.
http://wmpoweruser.com/ovum-pr...arket-overtake-ios-by-2016/
Yes, you may call me a WP7 fanboy, I own one and I am extremely happy with it. Just like many other users.

Only geeks read this stuff you are writing. The average Windows Phone 7 user (99% of them) has no idea an update is coming, if its late or what it does.

NO ONE CARES.

What they do care about is the cheap price and the new UI, and if they apps they want are on it. That is nothing more.

There's a problem here, too many either impatient or immature users blaming Microsoft for everything, it's easy for me to be a fan and talk crap especially when I'm not really responsible for anything to do with Windows Phone 7, but I do spend all my professional time dealing in the business world.

My observations here are different than that of a enthusiast or tech journalist/pundit, the issue here seems to be the carriers, while. It would seem the easiest thing to do is to come out and play a blame game Microsft is remaining quiet about what's really going on.

The carriers especially AT&t are dragging their feet, there is some kind of political moves being made here, but Microsft needs the carriers especially this early in the game. using Apple isn't a good example because they came into the game and AT&t had no idea how big the iPhone would be, it literally can make or break a competitor who is at a disadvantage if they don't have it.

Android isn't a good example as well, Google gives Android away and the carriers can do what ever they want with it, Google just wants the search data for advertising revenue, and Android is the personification of a fractured OS, some carriers have not updated certain phones forever a year and show no desire to do so.

If some WP7 users feel betrayed or impatient, I would strongly recommend the iPhone , it's been out on the market for several years and has so much momentum that Apple dictates what and how the phone gets updated. android is a toss, you may or may not get lucky depending on the handset and carrier.

I'll stick to my Focus.

Joe05 said,
....
I'll stick to my Focus.

+1

I was burned by the sting of previous iterations of the windows mobile platform. Now that they've reimagined the metaphor, I find myself delighted to pick up the phone and be presented with flashcards of modified data (after sliding the lock screen). Once I get my bearings with how my world has changed, I delve into the task for which I powered on the screen. From there it's just as simple as every other platform.

Unless I need to take a picture. Then, the metaphor is that of a camera, and guess what? It functions like, wait for it; a camera. Not a phone, a camera. Then when the pictures are over, it's a phone again. Sure there are bugs with what MS believed to be default vs customizable settings, and are addressing some of this in NoDo with future enhancements coming in Mango.

The update fiasco will fade, and people will marvel at the cooperation and speed at which Microsoft and partners can execute. Then we will be forced into scheduled updates like corporate America will demand after adopting it as the new standard for communication.

This will be the point in which the desktop and phone OSes will merge. Consider it Windows vNext+1. Once this happens, WP7 and it's bretheren will be relegated to the 'feature level' OS and true multitasking or 'smartphone' OS will dominate the landscape.

Then the CE based phones will go the way of the Kin, and Zune (hardware), Symbian.

In this time, we will see XBOXgo (kinect enabled xbox handheld(zune hardware)+zune software platform), windows phone, windows entertainment desktop, windows business desktop and a plethora of server variations. Each version of windows being essentially the same code with different shells for purpose built solutions.


In any event, the Focus is a nice phone and I look forward to NoDo sometime in the near future.

With deference to the author's intelligence, I will keep this simplistic...

Dribble, Dribble, Ignorance

There is such a lack of understanding of the market model that WP7 fills, it is flat out scary that the author actually presents this article in an authoritarian manner.

It is like listening to a two year old child, completely rationalize and explain that 2 + 2 = 2. In their mind it seems so logic and simple, as they can show that the formula has one digit plus one digit, which equals two digits.

Word was going to fail, Word for Windows was going to fail, Windows 3.0 was going to fail, Windows NT would never be able to compete with Novell, Excel could never beat Lotus, Visual Basic was worthless, .NET was a fad, the XBox was doomed, Microsoft DirectX was failing, Microsoft shader technology in DX8 was worthless, Microsoft's Unified GPU shader technology was going to fail, Windows 7 was just Vista with lipstick...

And on and on and on we have heard this crap from people that have no understanding even now why these products not only succeeded, but influenced the entire world.

The only thing this article needs to make it any more laughable, is the author adding a PS declaring this the year of the Linux desktop.

Here is a small reality check for anyone that buys this crap... Samsung, Motorola, Nokia...
Android is dying on the vine, after this generation of phone sales, which will end in a year or two, people will not return to the platform. MFRs are also running from the platform, as the development and support costs to put it on each device is barely less work than building their own OS.

WP7 can fail, but Microsoft is commited to it for several years, and has the integration with their products and money to keep it interesting. And if WP7 does fail in 3 or 4 years, it will be the iPhone sweeping the market, not Android.


----


Most users are not even running one of the last TWO versions of Android released, and yet there is an author like this ****ing and moaning about the first update for WP7 not being perfectly smooth. Really?

spot on with almost everything you mention here, especially with the insightfulness into the real costs of development or integration into the Android platform. It's a lot like the metaphor of Linux being free in the enterprise, which has evolved from it's community roots and since been vertically integrated into the enterprise market with the similar consulting models as the incumbent I would assume.

There seems to be little more going on here than just a whirlwind of pictures, charts with references, and slightly arrogantly bias assumption journaled as an authorative snapshot of the consumer end of the market.

The sidetrack into the gaming solidity of Microsoft's Live platform does give you a sense that the author is trying draw a parallel to work out where a new comer into the smart phone market fits into the myriad of seemingly better choices on offer but then makes no mention of any particular depth of understanding of these platforms besides what would be expected from a consumerist viewpoint.

Android is to Google services as 'theres an app for that' is to Apple as PSP(whatevertheheck) is to Sony services as WP7 is to Microsoft services, and I think we all understand that the development horsepower behind players like Microsoft is as always ever present, we are just yet to see it rise to expectations.

satus said,
Saying it failing is hugely mistaken. The failing is the end users who buy whatever companies put out there. Only time will tell. I pretty sure Mr. M$ never give up on anything they pursue.

You mean like : Sidekick, Kin, WinMO, Zune hardware...

this is like IE9 vis Chrome...
here Android conquered the phone market, its only a matter of time when Chrome will conquer the browser market

allwynd said,
this is like IE9 vis Chrome...
here Android conquered the phone market, its only a matter of time when Chrome will conquer the browser market

It already is

It is a shame, I really like WP7 as a platform, It is really nice to use! Loads of support and incentives to use it as well!

It seem's as though it came to the market at such a time where it wasn't really required. With Android, iOS, BB-OS and Symbian being firmly cemented as the biggest mobile phone OS's.

Microsoft have a lot more work to do though if they want to claw some users over to them.

IMHO, they should of just released ONE handset and not flooded it with similarly spec'd devices.

DiamondFootprint said,
IMHO, they should of just released ONE handset and not flooded it with similarly spec'd devices.

I disagree. Yes the devices are rather similar, but that's the fault of the manufacturers! Non of them did more than use the minimum hardware specification. That's the reason why all devices seem kind a similar.

The problem I feel is that Microsoft is spread too thin sometimes. I love the interface on WP7 and really glad Microsoft pushed something new. I don't think they have failed yet. I mean did people scream Apple Failed when they had some of their first iPhone issues or the Antennagate issue? Droid has had is fair share of issues as well. The biggest issue I see is the usual for Microsoft and thats marketing. Its quite bad, I mean yeah there are the few WP7 commercials but thats not enough. I go to a Tech school and even there we have people who have never heard of Windows Phone 7. Microsoft needs to get their heads out of their asses and realized the common person is not a geek and will read geek blogs all the time for the latest gadgets. Why would you invest all this time and money into a product and fail to deliver or fail to market

I am still a MS fanboy, but i agree with the editor in suggesting the MS is starting to fail. MS stayed with XP too long and screwed up Vista. MS then slept through the first few years of the Smartphone revolution. MS has already been knocked out of the Tablet space. XBOX 360 took too long for a refresh which basically caught up with what Sony had already done more than a year earlier. Clearly Ballmer needs to go.

I'm not sure Joe Blow knows about the NODO update.

Probably has more to do with the ugly metro ui than NODO update.

Commenting is disabled on this article.