As part of Microsoft’s marketing push in the UK, the firm is also carrying out a Lumia pro demo in specific cities in the region. This is a program by Lumia product specialists to educate Windows Phone novices on the new platform. Playing the part of a novice, I went down to the Oxford Street site for an appointment with one of Microsoft’s Lumia pros. Here’s how that went.
I arrived at the Carphone Warehouse where the demo was supposed to take place at 11 AM in the morning. My handler showed up shortly afterwards, he was a fairly young man, one of Microsoft’s student partners from what his T-shirt said. We hit it off in no time. To preface the demo, he explained the Lumia line and it’s nomenclature to me. This part of the conversation was well done, a novice user would easily figure out that 9>7>5 and so on and so forth, perhaps it is techies who overthink things a bit in this area. The Lumia 640 XL also came up in conversation, apparently it was quite the eye catcher due to its size. However, this was a product demo, and talking does not constitute much of a demo.
[I’m going to gloss over much of the minutiae here since most of our readers should already know this]
He pulled out his orange 535, and the demo begin in earnest. Like all Windows Phone demos should, he began at the start. The Start screen is one of most obvious features of Windows Phone, and the specialist-let’s call him John – wasted no time in showing it off. He emphasized its “personal” and “user-friendly” nature as well as its customizability settings. One thing to note here, John didn’t sign in with Facebook and Twitter here, not did he use the Skype integration. As a result, he didn’t bring those up. A small point, but possibly important considering how useful the people app is.
Next on the list were the Office apps. John segued into this by talking about how the Windows Phone had preinstalled Office apps which would help you manage your documents more effectively than other ecosystems. He played up the value of office and the usefulness of having the best Microsoft integration so passionately that I would have felt bad pointing out that Microsoft had made the iPhone its best platform for apps and services. A trend that has yet to slow down.
Finally, he touched on MixRadio and Here Maps. The promise of offline mapping and the powerful MixRadio service would be enough to lure any customer in – as long as they didn’t know that the other two platforms have these as well although Windows Phone has arguably the best verssions of these two apps. Xbox Music wasn’t shown off here. While it may not be as demo friendly as the others regarding speed and fluidity, the service itself is pretty powerful – especially with its new found OneDrive integration.
To end our little chat, I then raised a few questions about apps. Windows Phone has a reputation of having “no apps”, so it was important to note how this question was addressed. He took this in stride, talking about how Windows Phone has apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Vine etc and how missing apps like Snapchat were in development or Microsoft was working to change this by working with developers (We are seeking clarification on this. Until then, treat this as an unconfirmed statement mentioned only in light of last week’s tweet by Snapchat Support.) The slightly outdated statistic of over 375,000 apps was trotted out as well (450,.000 currently), but a large number is also good for overcoming doubt.
One of the best parts of salesmanship is talking like your product is the best, even if it isn’t. As a salesman, I would say the Lumia Specialist did a fine job of showing off the platform, and on a low-specced device like the 535. Windows Phone may not have the most powerful smartphones, but it is “affordable”. It may not have all the apps, but it has “over 300,000”. “The full Microsoft experience” is a vague line that sounds like something people should want to have. Say it enough times confidently enough and even the most sceptical person would be swayed in the heat of the moment.
Overall, the Lumia Pro Demo is a nice little experiment on whether dedicated Lumia salesmen in stores can help overcome the barriers placed by poorly-trained carrier salesmen. Can it? I do believe it can. While the lack of a new, wow device to show off to customers kneecaps this somewhat, but devices like the 930 and the 830 should do if the right specifications are played up. I would like to see Microsoft expand this programme to other branches of Carphone warehouse. Dedicated Lumia stands are popping up and that’s a start. If Microsoft’s going to make it in the UK, it has to choose between going big or going home. And one of those isn’t an option.
Have you had a Lumia Pro Demo experience? Let us know how it went in the comments.