Windows Phone is dead..What do I do now?
by John Filippis, Strategic Engagement Manager, Quorum
For anyone who has been following my dialogue on here, they will know that I have a “thing” for Windows Phone (there, I said it).
In a world of “me too” social conformity and the public’s insatiable hyperbolic infatuation with mobile phone “glitter”, Windows Phone stood out as an option for those that chose to be different.
Maybe too different it now seems.
You see, Windows Phone was for people that valued being able to do real work in a seamless and productive way without the fuss associated with other platforms. Windows Phone provides a very consistent user interface experience with other Windows devices, can be used as a PC via Continuum , integrates with Office 365, runs office applications like a Swiss watch (especially the brilliant Outlook Client) and be a trusty companion to anyone, anywhere who wanted to be output driven.
So what is so wrong about that ? For people like me well ..nothing; but for the masses it seems, it was plenty.
Worldwide statistics reveal that the abovementioned individuals (like me!) and their trusty Windows Mobile were as rare as modern day sightings of the Thylacine. For the numerically driven (and data doesn’t lie), Windows Phone global usage is (was) less than 5% penetration on average (yes that low).
Because short visioned bean counters ultimately control any product’s lifeline, without the requisite sales and consumer consumption, no product will survive a sub 5% market penetration for too long; and Windows Phone was no different.
But the interesting question is Why?
Why does a perfectly good mobile productivity platform (that offered some unique and very useable PC like functionality) capable of making anyone productive anywhere, warrant a first class ticket to the bottom of the relevance pit ?
As with any great failure, it is never any one thing but rather a compound effect of many little things that ultimately craft the coffin of a product’s downfall. Many IT commentators have already reported on the said elements of destruction such as Microsoft’s slow response to the mobile market, the ill fated Nokia acquisition, poor strategic choices on platform updates and release schedules.
But ultimately, what killed Windows Phone in my opinion came down to two things:
The first was simply a lack of developer support, plain and simple. There just was not enough of an app database to keep the punters interested. I see this almost everyday as I watch teenage kids show, swap and giggle each other into fits of hysteria with apps on their apple or android phone.
The Windows Store unfortunately was never bolstered with apps (or teenage enthusiasm) in the same way as Apple or Google and Windows Phone suffered heavily as a result. The apps ecosystem provides the very important soma to ensure ongoing consumption (addiction?) of the platform, without this app database support any platform is dead. Apple and Google had a very very long head start in this space and not even the Microsoft juggernaut could reel that in.
The second reason is a human one and its emotion. The masses just never got emotional about Windows Phone, it never made the cool, hip and sexy club. Everyone was passionate about showing off their new Apple and Android device but Windows Phone…well no. It seems the punters just never saw it as a “real deal” phone, that was always reserved for Apple and to a lesser degree Android.
These two attributes are obviously interrelated and they worked together in a closed feedback loop which ensured intense popularity for these phone platforms.
But just because something is popular does not automatically qualify it as good and Windows Phone for all its lack of popularity was actually very good and in some parts, very very good. The main differentiators and or features of Windows Phone that enabled me to be more productive on my phone than 96% of the population were as follows:
Active Tile Interface: One the best things that Windows Phone offered, was a way to get updates and information without opening the app tile. That rotating virtual spindle just kept feeding me information all day every day and it helped me immensely in many situations, where I could see information coming in but did not want to touch my phone (i.e. meetings). In addition, the overall menu interface design was easy to use and ultra intuitive.
Continuum: My favourite feature, watching peoples draws drop in the office, in cafe’s and in client meetings as I used my Microsoft Wedge keyboard and Microsoft Arc mouse to drive my Windows Phone like a PC across large screens, multiple screens…wirelessly. Great for doing work on the go just about anywhere..brilliant!
Office 365/Office Apps Integration: The Office 365 suite (especially Outlook Mail) worked flawlessly on my phone. It never let me down and I could do editing in any place on the fly on my phone across almost all office doc types. It saved me days of time over the last 14 months in never having to open my Surface device to do an update to documents.
So it is with great sadness that my trusty mobile friend is going to now be relegated to the dust bin.
So what do I do now ?
Apple ? It works and is OK…but having membership to a phone club with an average age of 12 and having to succumb to being part of the “me too” crowd is not really my cup of tea.
Android ? If there was a prize for designing the least intuitive phone interface with more layers and embedding than the Victorian values in Tennyson’s poetry, then Android would win by a country mile. So, for its lack of intuitive layout and its absurdly layered menu embedding (to the point of tedium), its a definite No.
So what else could I do ?
Maybe the saving grace is Microsoft Launcher…essentially a useable skin for the generally unusable Android phone. On initial look it seems that it could do the job reasonably well, but try as I might to pretend its not Android; it keeps reminding me it is. It will work for some, but my personal Android experiences were more scarred than a Spartan Soldier post the battle of Thermopylae, so I don’t see it filling the void.
I just don’t know…I am playing phone ostrich at the moment by sticking my head in the proverbial sand.
For now my trusty Windows Phone will stay firmly in my pocket (desk, car, café, insert other places here) until further notice…or until something really cool comes along (Apple and Android need not apply).