Microsoft has 3 months to make or break Windows Phone – Part 1

windows phone mango

“if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it still make a sound?”

That is the dilemma I believe ails the Windows phone in its quest to make a headway in the highly competitive mobile landscape. Even with the great reviews of the huge mango update scheduled for the fall, and the prospects of second generation hardware coming from OEMs like Samsung, HTC and especially the much awaited Nokia branded phones, I’m afraid that Windows phone will continue to languish as a so-so mobile OS behind Google and Apple if Microsoft does not fundamentally change their approach in marketing and exposing the OS to the consumers. The new iPhone hardware refresh with IOS 5 and the latest Android 4.0 are set to come out around the same time frame in the fall as Windows Phone Mango. Being the under dog, Microsoft has to actively do more work than their top two competitors.

Here are the six areas that I think they need to fix in order to give Windows Phone a chance to gain market share.

1. Send in the ground troops.

In war and in politics, it is widely known that having “boots on the ground” is the most effective strategy to achieve final victory especially in closely contested battles. We have talked about this here a millions times but I still think its worth repeating, Microsoft needs to take control of how their phones are presented and sold in carrier stores and independent shops.

Just the other day, I was at an AT&T store to check out if they had the Dell Venue Pro in Stock. This is a corporate store in my area which previously had Windows Phones in a defined space. This time things were different! The two WP7 phones on display (a Samsung Focus which had never been updated and a HTC HD7s which had no demo data whatsoever) were in a shelf headlined “ Smartphones.” Among the other occupants of the space were a myriad of Android devices, HP Veer and a BlackBerry or two. So what about the iPhone? Well, it commands a shelf space all by itself of course!

If MS cannot bring themselves to first have full working demos (with the latest updated software) a designated place headlined “Windows Phone” and knowledgeable customer reps who are willing to fairly sell the advantages of a Windows phone, I see no way how the OS will gain any meaningful traction no matter how great the features are. The same scenario was repeated at a local Best Buy and Wal-Mart, places where most average consumers make the final decision to purchase their phones. There were a number of Android phones from Motorola and HTC and then somewhere in the back, a lonely Windows phone lay in a non-working state.

Please Microsoft I urge you, allocate some of that million dollar marketing campaign money into hiring live human beings to promote and sell your products! WP7 already has high customer satisfaction according to the Changewave survey, but in order to improve market share, you need to put boots on the ground!

2.Fire the marketing team and start over.

The marketing for Windows Phone has been average at best in my opinion. The “really ads” were good but for the life of me, I do not understand why Microsoft’s marketing gurus refuse to showcase the various features of the OS in action. The Video below shows the first four iPhone ads before it came to market (thanks to @paulpaliath’s tweet for the video link)


Then check this link for their new iPhone Airplay ad. You notice how simple yet effective they are? The ad focuses on one feature of the phone and brings it to life in the mind of the consumers. No distractions from actors or blaring rock music. Is it too much to ask the powers at be at the ad agency to showcase the Windows phone in a similar manner? Just imagine an ad featuring the people hub and the great improvements with groups in Mango, or the Bing search with Local Scout just to name a few.

I have already convinced a few friends to look into getting WP7 devices after explaining to them some of these features. I would like to see ads that focus on the hubs and live tiles and illustrate how different they are from the icon based paradigms found in the other OSes. Gizmodo had a great video showing a good number of the new features in Mango and Engadget  had a thorough post detailing almost everything one could imagine about the update. It will now be up to the ad people to make these features relevant to prospective customers in a simple yet effective manner like the iPhone ads do.

As I was writing this Microsoft, posted this and this video highlighting  some of the features in the People Hub. I hope they take this further and put them in 30 second  TV ads.

Click here for part two.