Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 was supposed to be the operating system that would carry Microsoft’s mobile banner for the next few years. When Microsoft launched the platform, the software company said that Windows Phone 7 would be the reliable choice for those who want a high-quality mobile operating system and devices that will satisfy their needs.
However, Windows Phone 7 so far has not fulfilled that promise. The operating system lacks the polish that consumers and enterprise users are finding in competing platforms, such as iOS and BlackBerry OS. But most significantly, few consumers even consider Microsoft’s option a worthwhile competitor to Android. At this point, the marks against Windows Phone 7 far outweigh the advantages the platform enjoys.
But that doesn’t mean that all is lost. With some tweaks in strategy, Microsoft just might be able to stage a comeback in the mobile market.
Read on to find out what Microsoft is doing wrong, andwhat the company can be doing to address it.
1. Where are the top-notch phones?
As important as software is, hardware is still a key consideration for consumers thinking of buying a smartphone. Today’s consumer wants a fashionable design, a great-looking screen and some additional functionality, to boot. So far, Windows Phone 7-based devices have fallen short in nearly all of those areas. Until Microsoft can work with vendors to offer a device that’s on the same level as an iPhone or Motorola’s Droid 3, the software giant will have a hard time keeping up in today’s hotly contested mobile space.
2. The update process is a killer
Microsoft has been panned for delivering one of the worst update processes in the business. When owners of Samsung smartphonestried to update their smartphones earlier this year, some of the devices were disabled. After saying that it fixed the problem, Microsoft tried again, and the update failed. Eventually, Microsoft addressed the issue. However, many devices are still taking an inordinate amount of time to update, as evidenced by Microsoft’s own update tracker. As this point, updates might just be Windows Phone 7’s Achilles’ heel.
3. Nokia’s troubles
When Microsoft announced that it had inked a deal with Nokia that will see Windows Phone 7 become the “principal” operating system in the handset maker’s line of devices, the software giant indicated that it was on its way to catching up to Google’s Android platform. But let’s not forget that Nokia is in deep trouble and many consumers around the globe are losing faith in the company. Will Windows Phone 7 address that? Nokia is just one small piece of a much larger strategy that Microsoft must employ.
4. There’s no answer to Android
Google’s Android platform is the biggest threat to Microsoft right now. So far, Microsoft has been unable to slow Android’s growth in the mobile market. Some analysts say that Nokia should help Microsoft, but others aren’t so sure. And now, the question is,what can Microsoft really do to beat Android? It seems that Microsoft doesn’t know. And that’s not a good thing.
Consumer, Enterprise Interest Lagging
5. Vendor support is off
One of the biggest issues for Microsoft right now is that it doesn’t have enough deals in place with vendors. Earlier this year, Microsoft said that a host of devices would be coming from several new vendors, including Asus and others, but the big fish in that space is Motorola. So far, Motorola has hitched its wagon to Android. If Microsoft wants to have success, it will need to play much nicer with Motorola.
6. The apps are slow to catch up
Earlier this month, app trackers WP7applist and Windows Phone App List reported that Microsoft’s Windows Phone Marketplace hit 25,000 available programs. That’s not a good thing when one considers that the Android Market officially has more than 250,000 available applications (and unofficially, 425,000 apps, according to Androidlib), and Apple’s App Store has 425,000 applications. Until Microsoft’s mobile marketplace can even come close to matching those figures, the software giant will be in trouble.
7. Mango shouldn’t have been the first update
When Microsoft unveiled its Mango update, the company showed off a host of improvements, including full multitasking, that promise a far better time using Windows Phone 7. The only issue is all those features that Mango brings to the table-most importantly, greater reliability-should have been available at launch. It feels like Microsoft rushed Windows Phone 7 to the market. As a result, the company didn’t do itself any favors after consumers realized the platform wasn’t ready to compete on the same level as Android and iOS.
8. Consumer confidence is slipping
With all the problems consumers are having updating Windows Phone 7 devices and the issues those same folks see with the platform’s hardware, it’s quickly becoming clear that customers are losing faith in Microsoft’s mobile division. Even worse, those folks are going to Android and, in some cases, Apple’s iPhone to satisfy their smartphone needs. Microsoft needs to address consumer confidence by delivering a far better operating system with Mango. If it falls short,its hopes for mobile dominance might be over.
9. The enterprise doesn’t care
The enterprise has always been central to Microsoft’s business. Yet, when it comes to Windows Phone 7, few companies are even considering deploying the software. IT decision-makers realize that the platform doesn’t hold up well against RIM’s BlackBerry operating system, and so far, Microsoft hasn’t done anything to make them feel any differently. It’s unfortunate for Microsoft, but it appears the corporate world is slipping away.
10. Microsoft hasn’t gotten involved in hardware
One of the smartest things Google did was release a smartphone with its branding on it. Although the company didn’t actually develop the hardware, its Nexus One and now the Nexus S built up hype for Android and helped push consumers to devices running the operating system. If Microsoft wants to be a success, it should consider offering hardware of its own. It might be out of character for Microsoft, but at this point, taking chances will be a good thing for the company.