Microsoft's retrenchment from the phone business has hit the platform hard, forcing developers to abandon Windows Phone in an exodus of sorts. While a few services continue to support the platform, the majority of users are having a hard time justifying its viability. Left with less than one percent market share, its struggle continues. Making matters worse, Norwegian municipalities are now considering switching platforms from Windows Phone to Android.
Over 100 municipalities in Norway are using Windows-based smartphones for health and human services. About 3,000 units are currently in use in the city of Oslo. The devices employed Gerica IT solutions from Tietoenator, which chose the platform for its "superior security". However, Microsoft's plan to move out of its phone hardware business is forcing the authorities to reconsider their choice of platform as Windows phones become a rare commodity.
The sales manager at Tietoenator, Snorre Johansen confirmed [machine-translated]:
“Now it starts to get hard to get hold of Windows Phones. Microsoft has sold mobile their division, and there is little availability of handsets in the market.. We have an ongoing dialog with Microsoft. They are trying to reassure the market that 3-4 producers have plans to create Windows-based smartphones."
While Microsoft assured the company of its continuous support for the platform, there is a big chasm in the market for Windows phones that can't be filled without affordable, but quality Lumia handsets - the production of which have been halted. The company's move away from the hardware business, and to allow third-party OEMs to chime in with their products has been somewhat unsuccessful - with the exception of HP, which made the impressive but rather expensive Elite x3. Available for 8,000 krone (~$950) in the country, the smartphone is worth almost five times greater than what most customers are accustomed to paying.
With no alternative in sight, the company is planning to switch to an Android-based system governed by Tietoenator's tools for information security. As the Head of the agency, Stein Schatvet explains [machine-translated]:
"We are now in dialog with Tieto to develop a new generation Gerica mobile solution customized Android platform. This tool (for Android) will make it possible to open for the use of the Internet, downloading apps and so on without that information security is threatened.”
According to IDC, the platform will continue its nosedive into oblivion. With even OEMs disappointed with the company and the mythical "Surface Phone" not arriving until 2018, hope for the platform is bleak, at best.