The Failure of Microsoft’s Windows Phone

by Jeff Wiener on May 17, 2012

I would guess that despite its popularity in some niche markets, most analysts, users, and perhaps even employees of Microsoft would have to admit that the company’s Windows Phone 7 operating system has failed (so far) to make any sort of indelible mark on the mobile world.

While certainly not for a lack of effort, Nokia’s Lumia 900 is currently selling well in North America thanks to competitive pricing and a hard marketing push, the truth is that to date no Windows Phone has come anywhere close to seeing widespread popularity, and most carriers aren’t willing to take the chance that AT&T recently did in actively pushing the Windows Phone brand.

I have no doubt that there are some out there, Microsoft included, that are saying, “just hold on a minute, give WP time to gain a foothold,” but from my perspective if the Windows Phone brand was going to be a hit, we would have seen some evidence of it already. It also looks like I’m not alone in my impatience, as Microsoft is already seeing some of its original WP partners abandoning ship.

If there’s one thing that Microsoft’s Windows Phone project has shown us all, it’s that big budgets, big dreams, and unlimited opportunity does not guarantee a successful product. To date Microsoft has poured a great deal of money into its foray into the mobile world, and has seen little in return. In fact, as the writers here at theTelecomblog have noted before, Microsoft makes more money of licensing deals with competing OS brands than it does with its own WP platform.

Although I can’t quite put my finger on why Microsoft’s Windows Phone has, to date, been nothing short of a failure (nor would I have enough room in this blog forum to articulate it all even if I could put my finger on it), it seems obvious to me that unless Windows Phone 8 is truly revolutionary, blowing away all our expectations, if WP was going to be a success we would have seen its popularity trending upwards.

As I mentioned, there are many in the WP ecosystem that remain steadfast supporters of Microsoft’s OS, stating that given a little more time the WP franchise will be a success. To wit, they point to the initial struggles of Android and iOS, both of which endured glacially slow starts as they tried to break into the competitive mobile market. The difference, however, is that both those operating systems showed continued growth, while Microsoft hit the market with a flourish followed by a steady downward slide.

Further, I think many industry analysts knew when Microsoft first launched its WP platform that success would, at least at first, come from secondary markets, places where Microsoft has always been a strong performer. The problem with WP, however, is that it has struggled in those very markets, failing to even overtake its older brother, Microsoft’s antiquated and obsolete Windows Mobile platform.

In the end, it seems that I’m not along in my critique of Windows Phone, with original WP partner LG stating in an earnings call that it will no longer be developing WP devices. With that in mind, while I remain cautiously optimistic that Microsoft will be able to revive its flagging Windows Phone brand, the information collected to date does not bode well for any long term success, pointing instead to yet another high budget, well-intentioned failure.

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IDC: 2012 Belongs To Android, 2016 Will Be All About Windows Phone! — TheTelecomBlog.com
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex O May 17, 2012 at 9:12 am

WP is a very nice platform. I’ve been testing a Lumia 800 for a month with excellent results. Microsoft has failed marketing this thing properly and providing direct access to internal storage. It is a shame as the phone is very responsive and certainly a pleasure to use. Time will tell if it will survive.

Kyle May 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

If you’ve read the news, in just 2 short months WP is ahead of iPhone in China. Android still has the most market share but the fact that they’ve overcome iPhone in the largest mobile country in the world is a great sign. So failure? No way. The iPhone was pretty small when it first started and it didn’t have the competition that WP7 has now. It’s doing quite well all things considered. Another thing to note is that in some countries, you’re locked in to a contract for a set amount of years. Here in Canada we have 3 year contracts. WP has been out for almost 1.5 years.

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