The former Windows Phone 7 partner program head says Android and iPhone are inferior to the Microsoft platform.
It's the smartphone market,
stupid. That's the point of view from one Windows Phone 7 evangelist and former
Microsoft employee, who wrote a long blog post lamenting poor sales of the
Microsoft smartphones and the success of inferior products like Google Android-powered
devices and Apple's iPhone. The comments came from Charlie Kindel, a 21-year
Microsoft veteran who most recently led the Windows Phone partner program and
recently left to found his own startup.
Android devices encourage
fragmentation, which reduces friction between carriers and device manufacturers
but ultimately hurts consumers. Apple, by removing device manufacturers from
Kindel's four-sided smartphone marketplace (carriers, device manufacturers, OS
providers and users), is trying to turn the carriers into "even more of a fat
dumb pipe," which will eventually come back to bite them.
Microsoft, he claims, by
dictating hardware specifications and software update specs to the device
manufacturers and mobile carriers, respectively, is producing a virtuous cycle
where the various players in the market give and receive positive value from
their partners in the ecosystem. Google has managed to be a success, not
because it's a better product, he argues, but because Android fragmentation
allows carriers and retail sales professionals (RSPs) to reduce friction
between the manufacturing and carrier sides of the market.
dollars advertising WP7 requires Microsoft to push hard on the carriers," he
blogged. "Getting RSPs to push WP7 requires Microsoft to push hard on the
carriers to incent their RSPs correctly."
How much more successful are
Android devices and iPhones than Windows Mobile 7? Android and Apple's iOS
practically put the mobile market in a head lock in 2011, combining for 82
percent market share, according to NPD Group. The market research firm said
Android commanded 53 percent U.S. smartphone share, compared with 29 percent
for the iPhone. Android started the year at approximately 30 percent market
share, with Apple wielding around 20 percent.
Despite positive reviews
from critics, Microsoft partners Samsung and HTC just aren't selling many
Windows Phone handsets. In November, IT research firm Gartner reported Windows
Phone market share slid to 1.5 percent from the 2.7 percent share it secured a
year earlier. Even more worrying for Microsoft, it fell behind Samsung's Bada
operating system, which captured 2.2 percent of the market in the third
One side of the market
Kindel admits to omitting is application developers, which he first claimed
were "mostly irrelevant" to his post, though he later updated the blog entry to
clarify that he thinks applications are "very important" and application
developers "even more so." A recent article in The New York Times pointed
that the lack of application developer interest could be one of the
main reasons Windows Phone sales are disappointing.
As many application
developers fall into the "start-up" category of tech companies, those
businesses have limited resources and have to decide what platforms to design
for. Windows Phone is caught in a Catch-22, with application developers waiting
for the platform to gain larger market share before designing a version of the
application for that platform, and customers staying away until more of their
favorite applications become available.
"Over half of our users are
on an iPhone, so we had to focus on that platform first, then Android is
second," Leah Busque, founder and chief product officer at TaskRabbit, a San
Francisco-based start-up that performs errands, told The Times
. "I'm not ruling
out a Windows 7 app, but we have to follow our user base and provide solutions
that make sense for them."