Much has been made of the sales numbers of windows phone. How many phones? How fast windows phones are selling? Where there selling? Who’s selling the most of them (Not Sprint or Verizon. Let’s get that out of the way now)? These questions are usually brought up by the never ending army of Monday morning quarter backs. Better known as the tech-press. All of whom insist Microsoft is going about selling Windows Phone all wrong to everyone from the OEM’s, the carriers down to the consumer. These stories are mostly by bloggers looking for 1 thing: click bate! What headlines drag eyes to their website so that people eventually click ads. These have always seemed cheap to me. Doing this is a lazy form of journalism. Whenever I see these 5, 10, 8…. Stories, I come to one conclusion regardless of what their writing about. It’s a slow news day and the writer is paid by how many pieces they release. I doubt that any of these people that write these stories actually know or care about how to give windows phone sales a shot in the arm.
Not that they need a shot in the arm. Windows phone market share is on the rise. Slowly? Yes! But it is going up. Microsoft just like Apple and Google before them is on a slow but gradual upswing. They dumped their previous mobile platform and started from scratch. They have more apps in their marketplace after a year and a half on the market than Android & iOS had at this point in their growth. What the press wants is a horse race. Microsoft has obligations to many different people. Its customers, their shareholders, their business partners. You know who they have no obligation to what so ever? The press! Microsoft has since the launch of windows phone been putting its focus on the consumer. Where it ought to be because ultimately we’re the ones who buy the phone.
But as long as everyone is obsessed with list, I’m going to engage in an act of hypocrisy. I’m going to write the definitive list on how to get windows phone sales moving.
1: Windows phone doesn’t need a hero device. It needs a halo device:
You know why people buy fords? Because they park Mustangs in the front of the lot. You know why people buy Chevy’s? Because there are Corvettes in the show room windows. Do you know what sells Daewoo cars? Absolutely nothing! That’s why they got bought out by GM and you never see them on the road ANYWHERE. Windows Phone as an O.S is great. The handsets on the other hand have been mediocre for the most part (Except Nokia. Their actually trying) . LG may not be a design leader but they put DLNA on their 1’st generation phones and are putting NFC on their 2’nd generation windows phone the Miracle. HTC makes big phones. That’s it! You want a phone that doubles as a surf board? Get the Titan 2. It has a good 12 MP camera. No Beats audio! No NFC! No ports for SD cards! Samsung makes a light phone with a nice screen. Otherwise it’s a stripped down Galaxy S 2. They don’t even offer the same accessories. Windows Phone is a great engine stuck in your mom’s minivan for the most part.
Windows phone needs a premier line of devices. The Lumia line is a nice start. But where are the phones with NFC, DLNA, Docks and accessories available at the store? There are a lot of handsets that are trying to keep par with the iPhone but nothing that leap frogs it or tries to stand out. OEMs’ like to complain about differentiation. But very few seem willing to put their money where their mouth is. Windows Phone needs a Halo device. It needs a device to draw people into the stores. As far as everyone is concerned all android phones are droids. Windows phone needs a high end device or line that will be standard bearer for all windows phones. It needs to hit every point possible for a high-end device. It has to look HOT. Not a black slab with a chrome bezel. When it comes to car design the rule goes as follows. If you can be hit by it and not know what it is, it was a bad design. Except for the Lumia line and the HTC Radar, all windows phone devices look Ho-Hum at best. It’s not like Apple is the king of design. They made an all glass phone with a bad antenna. Knocking them off their pedestal should be a cake walk. OEMs’ are capable of making a well-designed devices. When it comes to laptops you can look like a MacBook or you can look like the Asus Bamboo. If you can make a laptop that looks good but not like a MacBook, then you can make a phone that doesn’t look like a large 3’rd generation iPhone.
Have LTE, NFC, and DLNA. Throw in the whole can of alphabet soup. Hardware matters! People know that the price of the phone isn’t what’s written on the initial sticker. It’s the price you pay for it over the course of 2 years. If you want to throw crapware on the phones. Make it damn good crapware. Uninstall-able but irresistible crapware. Augmented reality, exclusive games. Find your own Siri. Recruit developers. You have your app stores in the marketplace. Your offerings aren’t setting the world on fire. Bundle the phones with stuff. Stereo Bluetooth headsets, docks, armbands and cases. Something! I live in NYC where I can find almost anything so long as it’s not an accessory for My Samsung Focus S. Not even a Samsung made alarm clock. People buy the iPhone because if they do they can get the stereo with the dock, the millions of cases, skins and accessories that they may never even need. Granted that androids aren’t exactly uniform when compared to the iPhone. They do have accessories.
2: Developers! Developers! Developers!
Apps matter! The average consumer doesn’t know how many apps the iPhone has or how many apps are available for android. They know that there are a lot of them. And that everyone else doesn’t have as many. Remember when the Droid initially launched the droid? Their marketing wasn’t just focused on the end user. They also advertised to Developers. Microsoft has great relationships with developers and they provide great tools. But sometimes people need to be beaten in the head with things like this. Microsoft has to advertise to everyone on a large level. So far unless I’ve been missing the ads, Microsoft has been only advertising to the end user. There needs to be an all-out developer campaign. Microsoft has been doing all it can to get the developers of the top apps from Android and iPhone to repurpose their apps for windows phone. From begging to bribing but many developers are dragging their heels and the ones that are making cross platform apps aren’t submitting apps on par with their iOS/Android counterparts. Some do not follow the Metro UI guidelines. Don’t just have an advertising campaign. Have a widely advertised developer challenge with a large prize. The check should literally say oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo as it’s being handed to the winner. A contest where the end-users pick the best apps. Microsoft gets that developers are just as competitive as anyone else. They’ve even got Xbox style achievements for developers. This is just taking it a step further and having a public, user decided contest. A Windows Phone app X-Prize.
Another way to get developers coding for windows phone at a higher rate is to buy apps from developers. Remember, Apple didn’t make Siri. That was an app in the app store. If developers feel like they can make a lot of money by making a popular app for Microsoft. That even if it doesn’t make as much on the windows phone marketplace as it would iOS/Android but that Microsoft might buy it, they’ll code it. Time for Microsoft to become like Borg.
“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own perfection. Your culture will adapt to service us. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”
There are other Siris’ out there waiting to be found. Other Halo games. Buying apps not only gets developers interested in coding for windows phone. It helps to add new features to windows phone that the competition simply won’t have. It adds apps and games and potentially services that are exclusive to Microsoft. They’ll take that over being ripped of by Apple. The last thing we would want is to have an app on windows phone and then have it bought by Apple and Google.
When it comes to windows phone, Microsoft is playing the long game but they intend on winning. Windows wasn’t what it is today 2 years after it launched. It took years. Windows wasn’t even popular or taken seriously until almost a decade after its initial launch. The Xbox was laughed at when it launched. Sites had death clocks as to when Microsoft would pull the plug on it. Now their juggernauts that are dominant forces to be reckoned with. Over the next 5 to 10 years windows phones will be as ubiquitous as windows itself. And the Monday morning quarter backs will have to find something else to write list about.