Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took to the stage on Oct. 11 and showed off Windows Phone 7, along with a slew of smartphones that will run the company’s new mobile operating system. Throughout the presentation, Ballmer made it clear that he believed his company has the software that it needs to take on current mobile giants Apple and Google.
But what he showed off wasn’t all that impressive to a person who has been using the Motorola Droid X, Apple’s iPhone or any other of the wildly popular smartphones over the past couple years. In fact, the software looked a little outdated and the smartphones themselves weren’t all that different from what folks already have. In other words, the presentation wasn’t fresh and unique enough to make anyone care all that much.
Simply put, Windows Phone 7 falls short in several ways. Read on to find out why.
1. The release date is off
Microsoft announced that Windows Phone 7 will be coming to the United States in November. The company seemed confident about that release date, but it’s hard to see why it would. November just gives Apple and Google another month to steal more market share. And it ensures that Microsoft and its partners will have a limited time to capitalize on the holiday shopping season. Microsoft should have insisted the devices launch immediately.
2. Verizon is missing
As expected, Verizon was not included in the list of carriers that will be supporting Windows Phone 7 out of the gate. Although Microsoft didn’t make a fuss over it, the fact that Verizon has decided to stick with Android OS is extremely bad news for Microsoft. Verizon is the top carrier in the U.S. Without its help, Microsoft might have little chance to fully grow in the competitive mobile landscape.
3. Microsoft seems focused on consumers
Much of the talk surrounding Ballmer’s presentation of Windows Phone 7 revolved around consumer exploits. It makes sense. The software features Xbox Live functionality, games and other features that don’t typically appeal to the enterprise. But that’s a mistake. The corporate world has been keeping Windows Mobile afloat. By seemingly turning its back on the enterprise, Microsoft could be leaving itself open for some serious problems going forward.
4. Motorola is conspicuously missing
Motorola will not be a Windows Phone 7 partner when the devices first launch. Part of the reason for that could be due to a lawsuit Microsoft recently brought against the vendor for its alleged trademark infringement in Android-based devices. Regardless, Motorola has become the Android market’s Apple. Microsoft needs that company if it wants to even come close to matching Google.
Smartphone Maker Support Is Unimpressive
5. The devices aren’t drool-worthy
Microsoft announced a slew of devices that will run Windows Phone 7 when it launches. But further inspection of those smartphones reveals that they’re not all that appealing to the average consumer using the iPhone or the Droid X. That’s an issue for Microsoft. If it’s going to be successful, it will need to steal users from Apple and Google. And at least so far, that doesn’t seem all that likely with its current slate of products.
6. Vendors are disappointments
Microsoft will be partnering with HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell, among others, to bring smartphones running Windows Phone 7 to store shelves. But to be quite honest, save for HTC, which has done well with Android, those vendors have disappointed in the mobile market for quite some time. Whether or not they can reverse their string of bad luck is anyone’s guess. But Microsoft would be in a better position if it had better partners.
7. The ads aren’t working
Microsoft has released several ads to promote Windows Phone 7. Those ads show folks staring at their smartphone as something that they should be focusing on is going on around them. The ads fall flat. They’re not funny. They don’t give users an idea of how Windows Phone 7 really works. And perhaps most importantly, they can’t compete with Apple’s or Motorola’s ads. That’s a problem, and it could come back to haunt Microsoft at retail.
8. Where’s the anti-Android case?
Microsoft’s direct competitor is Google. Both companies are vying for vendors to run their software, and they’re both trying to get consumers to buy as many of those products as possible. Yet, Microsoft didn’t make much of a case (if any) to show why its solution is better than Google’s. That’s a major issue for the software giant. It gives Google the opening it needs to capitalize.
9. Apple isn’t worried
After seeing Windows Phone 7 in action, as well as all the products that will be running it, one thing is certain: Apple shouldn’t be worried. The software itself can’t match iOS, and the devices are way behind the technological might that the iPhone brings to the table. Simply put, in every way, Windows Phone 7 is a hobbled alternative to Apple’s offering.
10. Where’s the hype?
When Apple announces new iPhones or an update to iOS, the hype is palpable. Just about everyone knows about it, and most folks are excited to get their hands on the update. It helps sell products. Microsoft doesn’t have that luxury with Windows Phone 7. In fact, few consumers seemingly care about it right now. That spells trouble for Microsoft’s mobile platform-and its prospects of beating Apple and Google. Microsoft has to try to find a way to make consumers care-fast.