Weekly discussion: Skype, MixRadio and Here stagnate, Lumia sales fall, and a new build


Microsoft releases Windows 10 build 10572 to insiders.

Based on the feedback from Windows Insiders, Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 Build 10572 to Windows Insiders. This new build includes new features, lots of fixes, improved battery and performance, etc. You need to upgrade from Windows Phone 8.1 to upgrade this build. If you don’t want to flash the ROM from WP8.1, you’ll be able to upgrade directly to Windows 10 Build 10575 from any current 10 builds in rings (10166,10536,10549) when they release it next week on Tuesday.

Microsoft this week released Windows 10 Mobile build 10527 to Windows Insiders this week. This build was notable for several reasons. First was that it was one of the very first times Microsoft is releasing a build a week after releasing another one (I was expecting next month), its also the first build to drop “preview” status and identify itself as Windows 10 Mobile. The OS is just a week away from completion and already we’re starting up our review engines in anticipation.

My impressions of this build are both positive and negative. First is that it is really fast and stable and the best of times, but it is not immune to random bugs at the worst of times.

Microsoft’s Abysmal Lumia sales

Microsoft has just released its financial results for the last fiscal quarter, and the results for Lumia are just as you’d expect. Well – not really. The company did not exactly give a number for its Lumia sales this time around, they did note that Windows Phone revenue declined 54% to reflect their current strategy. Hurrah?

Phones revenue decreased $1.5 billion or 58%, as we sold 5.8 million Lumia phones and 25.5 million other non-Lumia phones in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, compared with 9.3 million and 42.9 million sold, respectively, in the prior year.”

Microsoft sold a record low of 5.8 million Windows Phones and I am using the words record and low here not in a strictly factual manner. Microsoft has held the reins on the Lumia line for more than a year and after the 10.6 million high, it has all been coming down slowly with a massive 2 million unit sales drop. What happened? I’d attribute it to a mixture of Microsoft mismanaging both halves of Windows Phone that it owned, plus the firm FUD’ing itself (Osborne/Elop effect). The other more positive aspect may that Lumia sales were low because Microsoft intended for them to be. If Microsoft was planning to drastically overhaul its Windows Phone operation with new hardware, the firm would have been justified in reducing the volume of units shipped out to partners in favour of newer units like the x50 series which have an emphasis on a more premium experience from top of the range to bottom of the range. It’s clear that this wouldn’t have needed to happen had Microsoft properly executed its Windows Phone strategy properly.

Skype continues to disappoint.

Microsoft today updated the Skype app for Windows Phone devices to v2.29.0.21. This appears to be just a minor update with no new features. In particular the update does not bring the new range of emojis the service recently introduced(months ago).

Skype on Windows Phone remains abysmal. It does not have many of the new features that the new Android and iOS versions have, nor does the Skype team mention including them in new Windows devices. Windows 10 is about to launch and the built in messaging solution remains a gimped version of what is available on other platforms. Not only that, but the built in slolution also lacks some of the niceties that made the Windows Phone Skype app feel like less of an afterthought. Pathetic to say the least.

Windows Phone has a new app problem

American Airlines, Chase Bank, Bank of America, NBC, Pinterest, and Kabam have all discontinued their Windows Phone apps in the past year. These huge apps have simply disappeared or will no longer be updated. Some companies have cited a lack of Windows Phone users, and others have remained silent, but each removal has put Microsoft another step behind in the mobile race.

It’s not just third-party apps disappearing, either. Microsoft has removed several MSN apps and its popular Photosynth app, and the software maker has also killed off a number of special Lumia camera apps. Windows Phone users still don’t have great Skype or Office apps like Microsoft produces for the iPhone. It’s stunning that, after five years, the best experience of using Skype or Office on a phone isn’t on one powered by Windows. This will change in Windows 10 Mobile, but it’s not available yet

Windows Phone does not have a new app problem. This app removal issue has been here for ages and has fluctuated. Apps have come, apps have gone. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that a glut of low-end devices can not power a healthy app ecosystem. It can not happen and only a fool would believe otherwise. In this case, the removal of the mint app is merely another dev taking after Microsoft in removing its apps from the app store. After all, several of Microsoft’s own apps have been removed or left  to languish. This leads on to my next point.

Here apps removed from the Windows store (glitch)

Whether technical issue or a glitch, I do not think Here (and maybe Mixradio) is interested in the Windows market anymore. They have both promised to issue updates to their Windows apps in future, but short of lip-service updates for updates sake, they have not touched their Windows apps for ages or indicated anything recently. Its a shame that a company that built itself up on Lumia would abandon it so quickly, but when even Microsoft is treating its own product like a red headed step child at times (schizophrenic behaviour), who can blame ISVs for following suit.