Survey Says … No One Wants a Windows Phone

For the past several years it has seemed like we have been waiting for Microsoft’s smartphone strategy to emerge and truly take form. Windows Mobile 6.5 was an unmitigated disaster, and while the initial Windows Phone 7 launch held promise there were simply too many compromises and missing features for a very late 2010 device.

It was only about a year ago with the launch of Windows Phone 7.5 ‘Mango’ that things really got interesting. New ‘second generation’ phones such as the HTC Titan launched with great features and the hardware capabilities to take advantage of the updated OS. Then along came Nokia with the huge partnership and the launch of the Lumia 800 and 710 … and it really looked like we were getting somewhere! Suddenly folks (like myself, Dan, Judie and others) were starting to feel that Windows Phone was pretty awesome and worth a chance.

From there it got better with the launch of the Nokia Lumia 900, an amazingly stylish, solidly built and top-performing smartphone with a gorgeous screen; Judie bought one and liked hers so much that she recommended it to Chris G. and Bryan. There were also the ads declaring that “the smartphone beta test is over”, which showed no small amount of swagger for a company and operating system struggling to outsell the last remnants of Windows Mobile!

But then in the middle of June Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 … and EVERY phone running Windows Phone was made obsolete – including the two month old flagship Lumia 900! Apparently, everyone noted … the beta test was NOT over. Existing phones would get a new ‘Start’ screen … and pretty much nothing else. Windows Phone 8 apps are incompatible, and Windows Phone 7.8 won’t even bring in-app purchases to devices – which is clearly not a technical hurdle.

So we have a history of failure and customer abandonment (add the Zune to Microsoft’s pile there), made worse by early adopters seeing enough promise that we started promoting Mango devices as an alternative to iOS and Android, now getting the carpet yanked from under us as the flagship device is ‘end of lifed’ after 2 months – worse than even Android!

But truth is – Windows Phone 8 looks pretty awesome. The OS shows tremendous promise, and WP7 got our support through efficiency and an interface that was all about getting stuff done. There is an integrated strategy from Microsoft that will work between phone, tablet and desktop with mixed processor types – sure the phone and tablet get cut-down Office versions, but things look promising.

But is it enough? According to a recent survey … NO! According to Bernstein Research analyst Pierre Ferragu:

people just don’t want Windows Phones.

“Our research shows that for many years, poor sales of Windows-based phones stem from a deep and stable lack of consumer interest for the product,” Ferragu wrote. “Despite numerous and repeated efforts of manufacturers (Nokia, but also Samsung (005930) and HTC (2498)) and Operators to develop an alternative to Android and Apple (AAPL) based on Windows, and despite the launch of numerous phones based on Windows with strong features, reviews and marketing support, the operating system remains cornered to less than 5% market share in smartphones.”

He continued, “The lack of consumer interest for Windows-based phones has been very consistent in marketing surveys we have carried out across the globe over the last several years. The situation of Windows in mobile phones is now very unlikely to revert. Smartphone Operating Systems benefit from ecosystem dynamics in terms of application ecosystem but most importantly consumer advocacy and adoption.”

Ferragu believes that despite new developer opportunities presented by the coming Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platforms, Microsoft’s (MSFT) mobile ecosystem will never catch up with iOS or Android. As a result, he sees nothing but heartache ahead for Nokia, which is expected to unveil multiple Windows Phone 8-powered devices during a press conference next week.

At Gear Diary, many of us felt stung by the way Windows Phone 8 was rolled out, as it made us feel like fools for recommending devices like the HTC Titan and Nokia Lumia 900; it also made us very cautious about recommending any Windows Phone device, and has us taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to upcoming devices.

As a result, when Nokia announces some cool new devices running WIndows Phone 8 next week, we will join the overwhelming majority of folks who will think ‘that’s nice’, and go back to our iOS or Android phones while we wait to see if Microsoft is actually planning for the long haul in terms of supporting Windows Phone customers this time.

Unlike every other time.

Source: BGR

Categories: Editorials

14 replies

  1. I’m going to go with “not entirely true” – I want one if it’s free.

    I like WP7 (owned a Titan) and I think WP8 is a nice evolution – but they have a problem and it has nothing to do with the devices, it’s the apps.

    Look at this:

    Angry Birds. No Angry Birds 2, no Space. Asphalt 5 … not 6 or 7. Dropbox VIEWER?! Pandora? The list goes on and on.

    Until they solve the developer buy-in problem, they’re nothing but an expensive and pretty feature phone.

    Of course that’s just IMHO.

    • Well, of course ‘free’ is meaningless when the REAL cost of a smartphone is ~$1500 ($60+ x 24 months). But yeah, if it was REALLY free …

      And I think (and we have said it before) THAT would go a long way … not necessarily free as much as a ‘trade-in’ or ‘upgrade forgiveness’.

      I mean, imagine if you already had bought a Lumia 900 in April, that later this year you could get the NEW Lumia with WP8 as a normal upgrade? THAT would appease many folks.

  2. I’m afraid what Mike and Brandon say is true for me. I used my AT&T upgrade to get the Lumia 900 and was initially pleased its attractive design and speedy response. However, I was disappointed by the fact that Microsoft revealed after the fact that the 900 would not be upgraded to WP8. This coupled with the continued paucity of apps left me feeling alienated. Nokia’s done their best to continue support, but my 900 will be quickly eclipsed by the WP8 phones very soon. I’ve been sampling the iPhone Kool-Aid for a few weeks now and have found it quite appealing, so barring some divine intervention of sorts I’m moving towards the Apple camp. Offshore with heavy lenses I may peer at WP8, but I ain’t a-bitin’ right now.

  3. Totally agree on the apps! It was well documented that the Windows Phone marketplace was flooded with small apps that had a different listing for each language, and other things like that. I know some of that stuff got taken care of – but the reality is that there is too much crap in the store compared to anything of value.

    And we know that WP8 apps won’t work with WP7.8, and also that WP7.8 doesn’t get in-app purchases … so WHY would anyone develop for the current platform? And given the slow development of critical apps currently for WP, why should anyone expect different for WP8?

  4. The N900 and other Maemo devices shared a similar fate except much worse. The N900 is a really nice device, but it’s apps are, well, great for guys like me and awful for everyone else.

    The problem Microsoft and Nokia both have is one of attention span.

  5. I find this fascinating, actually. As we all know, the converse situation obtained in the 80s and 90s, with tens of millions of users “locked in” to the Windows ecosystem, and Apple desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to break through the 10% niche market into which they got shunted. There’s lots of reasons for this, of course–entire forests have died for books and magazines talking about it. But a lot had to do with the fact that “everyone” had Windows, and so you had a big investment in Windows applications (and files and hardware), and switching was difficult and expensive. Plus, the lack of third-party applications for the Mac OS made switching even more difficult. And no matter how much Apple tried to lower the bar–or at least help people over the bar–they couldn’t break through.

    Now it’s reversed, and Apple has tens of millions locked into *their* ecosystem and *Microsoft* is trying to break through. It’s just interesting to watch the reversal.

  6. Well I still like the Luimia 900 even though some key apps are still missing (but the same is true for me on Android – big apps are missing). There are holes in the OS and a lot of the perceived speed is smoke and mirrors, but I like how they did it. There is a fluidity and consistency that is really nice on the Lumia, and Nokia has shown a willingnedd to support the app despite the idiot moves of MS in the space. But the fact here is that it became a dead device almost immediately after launch (and probably before in the planning cycle). That is a hard thing to move past.

    Next week we should hear the launch details for Nokia and the following week for Apple. Although I love my iPhone 4s, I am not enamored over a new unit with a 16:9 screen. That doesn’t appeal to me. Big screens I think have been over-rated by the media. I don’t think consumers are demanding them, it’s more that that is what is out and available (and manufacturers get a premium for them so that is what they are making). That said, I will look closely at the new features and decide if I want to make that jump – but odds are good that I will.

    The new Lumias (the 820/920 according to the rumors) may get my attention as well. At least I will consider them. Yeah MS screwed us, but Nokia supported us. I just don’t know if I want to risk it again, but, on the other hand, I really would like to see an alternative to Google/Apple gain some traction.

    The N900 was a nice device but it failed to have the things it needed to appeal to a wider audience. I don’t know how Nokia missed that. Apps sell. Access to key services sells. And a reasonable ecosystem is a must. These are the smartphone fundamentals today. Nokia missed the boat on that one, that’s why the N900 failed (commercially). Gorgeous hardware – crappy ecosystem.

    So, yeah – I’m playing the “wait and see” game too. I plan to get something this fall, but what? Dont’ know yet! LOL

    • Well, I’d like a *bigger* screen–4″ or even a tiny bit larger. But I don’t want it to get *too* big; my iPhone fits really well in my various pockets right (with a fairly small case) now, and I’d hate for that to change. But I watch a lot of TV shows on it, so more real estate would be nice. It would make it nicer when surfing the web, too. Or so it seems to me.

    • ” Big screens I think have been over-rated by the media.”

      Don’t count completely on that. Having owned a Samsung Galaxy Note – There’s a lot to be said for the bigger screen. The Note was huge (5.3″) – but a 4.5″ screen on the iPhone would be absolutely wonderful. I think Apple is making a mistake in the new design from what we’ve seen (IMHO it looks stretched and goofy) – if they went with a design that got them to a 4.2-4.5″ screen I’d be all over it.

      Using a 3.5″ iPhone after using a bigger screen is painful.

      • I’m afraid I have to disagree. The Note has a nice niche market, but I don’t think as many people want big screens as has been implied by current releases and the media. Why? Simple – one handed operation. Over 4″ inches it becomes very difficult. I hear from many people hoping that the iPhone WON’T get much bigger because they won’t be able to operate it with one hand. I hear from many (but not all) Android users who wish their device was a touch smaller. Big screens aren’t always the best or most convenient.

        So I stand by my statement that the demand for large screens has been overstated. I think there is a market for them, but it’s not as big as many seem to make it out to be and I still maintain that the “demand” is at least partially artificial because it enables manufacturers to sell for a premium.

  7. Despite the buzz about the new iPhone and iOS features coming down the pike, I am not feeling drawn back to iOS. Apparently this is because look-and-feel are of paramount importance for me. I enjoy the way WP 7.5 works, and several times a day appreciate the Lumia 900’s clear black screen and the great feel in my hand.

    Yes, it is disheartening to own a phone that will be shortly outmoded and abandoned by the WP8 ecosystem, but I always seem to be off cycle with the latest and greatest. Before the Lumia I had an iPhone 4 – was about a year into it when the 4S came out.

    The question is whether the Nokia Lumia 900 is a better phone for me right now than the iPhone 4S…and the answer is yes. Will I stay with Windows Phone after the latest and greatest iPhone iterations launch? Nokia’s responsiveness with updates for the Lumia, it’s downright fun design and quality, and the promise of even greater things with a WP 8 Nokia phone…suggest that it is highly likely that WP will be my daily driver to some time to come.

    Well…until something cooler comes out!

    • >Yes, it is disheartening to own a phone that will be shortly outmoded and abandoned by the WP8 ecosystem, but I always seem to be off cycle with the latest and greatest.
      Yes, I feel a bit bad about that for you myself, webbahboy, since you and I had a twitter discussion about how I liked the Lumia 900 after I had used it for a bit. Now for me, in going from the large 900 to the smaller iPhone 3GS, I obviously noticed the smaller screen, BUT…it felt great in my hand. As I’ve mentioned several times before I don’t have huge hands, so the 900 was often a two-handed phone which I found a nuisance. The iPhone OS interface is dated, but the overall useability of the phone for me increased. That’s just my two cents.

      • I haven’t noticed a usability problem with the size of the Lumia, perhaps just because I am so enthralled with the larger screen. Today’s launch of the Lumia 920 answsers some of the peeves I have had with the 900 — particularly the mediocre camera.
        As anticipated, the 920 and others of its ilk to follow are just a lot more exciting to me than another iteration of the iphone.


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