I tried to put this in as a comment on Rush24’s article, but I think that I had too much to say 🙂
I just came back from a local AT&T store, and the experience was a major disappointment.
A big deal has been made of the fact that AT&T is placing dedicated wall WP7 wall displays in its stores. The store I visited had a dedicated wall display, but it was small and off to the side… and this was a big store. If you didn’t know about WP7, you could easily miss it. Even the Blackberry had it’s own display wall AND a conspicuous freestanding floor unit. The display wall had no working phones on it. In their place were “coming soon” tags. The Focus was not there because of “limited stock”, and the Surround was not there because of a “faulty alarm sensor”. The wall’s lame interactive display of a WP7 device does nothing but play a feature video when a button or tile is pressed. It would be better if the display emulated a real phone. There were no large banners. None of the greeting folks mentioned the new phones. Oh, there was a 23″ display running on a table near the back of the showroom, and it mentioned WP7…. but there when I tried to get more info on the display, there was ZERO on wp7. All that was there was AT&T’s normal lineup.
Because there were no working phones on display, we had to wait over 20 minutes for a rep to bring out the phones. He simply handed them to us and stepped off to the side, showing absolutey no interest in the phones. I asked him if he had been to any of the training courses for WP7, and he said yes. He then tried to say something intelligent about the live tiles, and it sounded like he was guessing.
Neither of the phones were set up, and this was day 2 of a major launch by a “premier” partner. There were no apps (other than the stock AT&T hub apps), no music, no contacts, no photos, no games. I’ve been following WP7 daily since the day it was announced, love WP7, and even I was let down by the “empty” demo phone.
If I had been a “normal” customer looking for my first smart phone phone, or an upgrade, more than likely, I would have walked out with an iPhone. This type of half-assed support in the phone stores can kill WP7. No, you don’t have to have instant success, and massive lines around the block… but you do have to have store staff who are excited and knowlegeable about the phones. It would be helpful if they actually used the phones so that their enthusiasm would sell the product. Just the way Android is pushed hard at Verizon, and the way iPhone has been pushed hard at AT&T, WP7 needs to be pushed hard at AT&T and T-Mobile.
Rush24 is right. Microsoft does need to have a dummy account for all these demo phones to be fully loaded (games, contacts, video, photos, etc), healthy product supplies, and real support at the brick and mortar level. Maybe they need to have Microsoft reps at the stores to make sure the launches are done correctly.
I don’t think that Microsoft has got its advertising/marketing message on target yet (I think that WP7 is engaging enough that we might actually spend MORE time on the phone… not less), but, at this stage of the game, WP7 can’t afford to lose any potential customers.
By the way… loved the Samsung Focus form-factor, and the screen looked much nicer than the Surround’s. The speaker sound of the Surround was decently loud, but not of a high enough fidelity to justify the extra thickness and weight (I carry an Imagio which is a relatively svelte phone). Tomorrow, I’m checking out the HD7! 🙂