One thing we discussed at GearFest was the state of Windows Phone. There was quite a bit of enthusiasm when the Mango update arrived and breathed new life into the OS. Then came the partnership with Nokia, and it started to feel like Microsoft would see reasonable success – and the release of the Lumia 710 and 900 phones in particular just added to the feelings of excitement for the future of the platform.
Then came the announcement that Windows Phone 8 wouldn’t support ANY device currently available – including the brand new flagship Lumia 900. For many who recommended devices to others or bought them themselves [Judie raises hand], it felt like a slap in the face: it seemed we had just gone through the Windows Mobile to Windows Phone 7 reboot, and here we were looking at ANOTHER ‘scorched earth’ updates.
NeoWin spoke to Nokia America Leadership Team member Matt Rothschild, noting:
When it comes to the Lumia 900, Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.8, there is a lot of conversation about the device hitting a dead-end. We asked this to Matt and he responded that “there is a lot of life left in these devices” and that they “are continuing to invest in this product” and the “platform has a long way to go”. Matt was not holding back on the Lumia 900 and stated that there is “absolutely great innovation coming to this product” and “you will continue to see new news about” the Lumia 900 which could be new software updates, apps, or something else; Matt did not specify what the new items would be but that there is more coming down the pipe.
Matt provided an interesting perspective about all the new items coming to the Lumia devices, he actually claims that it’s not the lack of news about the devices, it’s that there is so much news that they do not want to “overwhelm [the reps] with new information”.
I have a few thoughts about this:
1. We know from specs that MOST features are NOT coming to existing devices. All that we are REALLY getting with 7.8 is a ‘fresh coat of paint’, virtually speaking.
2. Very few phones will get 7.8, and Nokia will only make ‘great innovations’ for the Lumia 900. For anyone else – Windows Phone really IS a dead issue until the launch of Windows Phone 8. Accessories are dead, software is dead, and support is dead.
3. Adoption rates remain low, and the app market is also rather thin. For people looking for a new phone to invest in FOR TWO YEARS … why would they choose Windows Phone now?
4. Microsoft made a huge gamble by abandoning existing devices; do you think they REALLY want Nokia focusing on ANYTHING but Windows Phone 8? Really?
Another question that always comes up – does the current $49 price change things? NO! As we have been through time and again, the upfront cost differential between the $50 Lumia 900 and a $200 iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy SIII amounts for about $1.50 a month over the course of the contract. And considering the contract costs for a smartphone are about $60 a month, the price of phone is really a minor issue.
We know from recent market share data that Windows Phone share is ~1.3% of the market – which basically means that in spite of Mango and the Lumia phones and LOADS more marketing, there is fairly stagnant adoption of the platform. Microsoft made a big gamble as I said, and all of it is based on the confluence of Windows 8-based platforms. There is simply no room for continued support on anything but a marginal legacy basis.
What do you think? Do you see any future for these products? Or is this just some PR spin trying to stave off the total death of the platform prior to the Windows Phone 8 release? Let us know in the comments!