First and before I start you must understand I really truly love Windows Phone*. For about half of the time during the past 4 years I have been an enthusiastic Windows Phone user. However recently I switched back, holding my nose all the way to an iPhone. Why would I do this you ask? My short answer is that I am making this change to hopefully send Microsoft a message about what they must do if they ever want to reach double digit smartphone market share in the United States.
* Throughout this article I refer to Windows Phone, although Microsoft has recently announced the re-branding to “Microsoft Phone”. As to not confuse my dedicated readers I continue to use “Windows Phone” for the purposes of this post.
I am taking a deep breath as I write this. I am so upset by this because I truly believe that Microsoft sports by far a superior UI (user interface) and offers a first rate experience when it comes to user customization and Microsoft Office integration. Unfortunately there are two converging events occurring today that have forced me to make this sad change and I bet many others will follow. If this continues to occur, there will be a slow march to mediocrity in the smartphone world in store for Microsoft.
What are these two events which have converged to cause this change of heart for me? Well here is how I see it.
Converging Events Conspire Against Windows Phone
The first event is the continued lack of app development in Microsoft’s smartphone realm. The continued lack of apps truly astonishes me. I have waited and hoped for the past 4 years that this situation would improve and although there has been some improvement it has been ridiculously slow and not remotely enough development in the app field for the majority of smartphone users. Why Microsoft does not get the importance of this situation I simply have no idea. People generally use their smartphones as quasi tablets today and as these smartphones grow in size this situation surrounding how people use their smartphones, and what they expect from them is only going to increase. The lack of apps is like an anchor dragging the amazing Windows Phone down to the bottom of the smartphone seabed.
The second event that is occurring surrounds Microsoft as well. During the past year Microsoft has been successfully pursuing their new business model of being a “Software and Services” company first. As a result their software prized possession of Microsoft Office has been developed and released to positive reviews across the board of smartphones including Android, iOS and of course Windows Phone. Microsoft’s other products, Office 365 and OneDrive have also been made available across platform. As a result, even for Microsoft dwellers the need to stay with Windows Phone is minimized.
These two situations (or events) are really causing Microsoft some issues with further developing and expanding their smartphone line. Although not as important as the two situations I have talked about here Microsoft after purchasing Nokia really only has one other smartphone provider which is HTC and even there other than the amazing HTC One M8 the choices for high end smartphone users is minimal here as well.
What Can Microsoft Do to Save Their Amazing Smartphones?
It really comes down to this. Apps. Microsoft must do whatever is necessary to get a handle on this problem and quickly. For each month that rolls by Microsoft is falling further behind in the smartphone dominated world.
Goodbye Windows Phone. May we meet again in a better place where Apps dance freely in the Microsoft Store.
What would I do? Well I have suggested this many times but it seems I just do not have Microsoft’s ear these days. The first thing I would do is identify the most popular 50 apps worldwide and then either pay the companies to develop apps for Windows Phone or develop the apps, in partnership for those companies. Now I fully understand that for the most part this is now how apps are developed, Android and Apple do not need to do this, however Microsoft was so late to the game this may be their only hope for smartphone survival. There is an old but true saying that goes like this. “Desperate times call for desperate measures”.
Although it is true that many of the functions of apps can be completed with the internet browser on Windows Phone the task can be both clunky and slow. These two results are a smartphone killer.
Even for me a Windows Phone junkie there are simply many apps that could help me professionally that are simply not available to me, unless I switch to Andoid or iOS, which quite frankly I recently did.
Offer Incentives to Small App Developers
There must also be incentives for small app developers to invest the time and resources in Windows Phone. I have seen this a couple of times in the past few years. As a CIO for a local government I have been involved in a couple of projects that involved app development for smartphones and only once in three occurrences was a Windows Phone App even a possibility. And in the case where a Windows App was offered it was inferior to the Android and iOS offerings.
I am stunned by Microsoft’s continued problem and lack of movement with Windows Phone and its poor relationship with app developers. Microsoft recently has gotten many things right. Office 365 for Business and Home Users, OneDrive’s unlimited storage and the Surface Pro 3 are all signs of a company heading in the right direction, however I am left scratching my head wondering what’s in store for what could be the best smartphone on the market.