Apple and Google Android are battling for smartphone market superiority. Microsoft's Windows Phone can learn something from each rival.
Windows Phone claim a bigger chunk of the smartphone market?
Microsoft released the first iteration of Windows Phone in late 2010, pundits
and analysts of all stripes have picked over the best way to answer that
question. For Microsoft itself, of course, any answer is more than purely
academic: considering the amount spent to build and promote the platform, and
lower-than-expected sales over the past few quarters, it needs a viable strategy
for making Windows Phone a viable competitor to Google Android and Apples
Some new data
from The NPD Group, although ostensibly about the latter two platforms, hints
at a way forward for Windows Phone.
issued as part of a Feb. 6 research report, described how Apple had passed
Samsung and LG to become the best-selling U.S. handset brand in the fourth
quarter (Q4) of 2011. Although Google Android took a larger share of
smartphone unit sales as a whole, no individual Android smartphone managed to
outpace any of the three different iPhone versions currently on the market.
executive director of Connected Intelligence for The NPD Group, wrote in a Feb.
6 note accompanying the data that customers were attracted to the iPhone 4S because
of its faster processor, improved camera and Siri speech-driven agent.
But thats not
to discount Androids own unique strengths. Android has been criticized for
offering a more complex user experience than its competitors, he added, but
the companys wide carrier support and large app selection is appealing to new
Based on that
analysis, how can Windows Phone carve its own niche? It involves a dual-headed
strategy: a set of high-end devices that appeal to the same demographic lusting
after the iPhone 4S, paired with a host of midrange devices offered via
its manufacturing partners are already pursuing the beginnings of such a
strategy. Nokias Lumia 800 and 900 are a pair of new smartphones, for example,
aimed at the markets higher end; the Finnish phone maker is accompanying those
with the Lumia 710, meant to appeal to the broad middle range of consumers.
Samsung is also marketing toward that range, with a Focus Flash on AT&T
that retails for $49 with a two-year contract.
conversations with eWEEK at this
Januarys Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft executives made it clear that
they would continue to push Windows Phones at a variety of price points. Top
to bottom, well have the best story, said Greg Sullivan, senior product
manager for Windows Phone.
the question of whether, with such a strategy in place, Windows Phone can
successfully dislodge the various Google Android manufacturers (some of whom
also make Windows Phones) and Apple from their well-entrenched places within
the market. Microsoft plans on devoting more marketing resources to Windows
Phone; certain partnersmost notably Nokia, which is basically betting its
future on the platformwill contribute their own funds to the effort.
Microsoft doesnt succeed in getting a significant number of customers to
switch over to Windows Phone, another potential market awaits: people whove
never owned a smartphone before, and might want an easy-to-use, entry-level
device along the lines of the Lumia 710 or Focus Flash. But convincing that
demographic to go with Windows Phone will likewise require a sizable
words, Microsoft might have a winning strategy in place, but itll need to
deploy all the marketing and logistical muscle at its disposal in order to
start making serious headway against Google and Apple.
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.