Yesterday Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7, the ground-up reboot of the failed Windows Mobile platform. By all accounts the hardware and software look solid and intriguing, with reports of great performance and an interface built around a quick look at lots of information rather than being largely app-centric like iOS and Android. Of course, only time will tell how it will all shake out.
In the mean time, Microsoft has released two advertising spots for the new phone OS, one called ‘Really?’ and the other ‘Season of the Witch’. Each of the ads is focused around the tag line:
It’s time for a phone that saves us from our phones.
The first ad – ‘Really?'”
The other ad – ‘Season of the Witch’:
‘Season of the Witch’ shows a wasteland of people glued to their smartphones, in a sort of Twilight Zone looking place where all of these things are going on but no one notices because they are too absorbed. ‘Really?’ shows the two sides – the totally absorbed smartphone user and the people they ignore, bump into, or otherwise impact due to their total immersion with their phones.
My thoughts? The ads are both funny and very well made, and speak to the ubiquitous overly absorbed smartphone user. The reaction when the smartphone falls in the urinal … priceless. I bristle when I see a toddler / preschooler walking in a busy area head down with a Nintendo DS, but what should I expect – their parents are typically lagging behind head down with a Blackberry / iPhone / Droid.
The wasteland of ‘Season of the Witch’ is amusing as a concept shot, but it is the real-world intrusions of ‘Really?’ that make (or should make) every smartphone user think of the times they have found themselves in that situation – and make non-smartphone users remember the time spent on the other end! (As an aside, I know it was supposed to be sexy, but the overly skinny woman in lingerie looked so plastic I honestly thought she was a mannequin at first!)
The ads are a teaser – they tell us we are spending too much time glued to our mobile devices, and suggest that Windows Phone 7 will somehow save us from that. Windows Mobile 6.5 did a great job at that – by making getting to information a pain, being abysmally slow and antiquated, and making consuming content a chore. Windows Mobile 6.5 was a savior for those on limited data plans! But something tells me THAT isn’t what Microsoft was trying to say.
My assumption is that Microsoft is trying to say that you will get what you need quickly enough that you won’t be immersed in your phone 24/7. That seems like a cool concept – but isn’t that what Windows Mobile tried to do – have your email, appointments, contacts, etc. on the Today screen easily accessible so you can quickly see what is happening and not have to dive into an app to get it? And wasn’t that approach soundly refuted with the success of, well, every other mobile operating system since?
I know, I know – I’m reading too much into things, they are merely taking a fun look at our smartphone obsession. Sure … but they are doing it in the context of trying to sell us – a new smartphone! One that will cost us the same $30 or so a month extra for a data plan.
While I continue over-analyzing, let me ask the smartphone-obsessed out there: when you are walking around in a daze like the people in ‘Season of the Witch’, exactly what is occupying your attention? Is it looking up contents or one of the few other things you get ‘at a glance’ on Windows Phone 7 that you have to enter an app to do on iOS or Android? Or are you reading news, checking weather, reading & writing email / text / twitter messages, watching videos, or playing games? Exactly! So what does THAT say about Windows Phone 7 … ?