Windows Phone 8 - will you be getting it this Christmas?
Today Microsoft introduced Windows Phone 8, its umpteenth attempt at conquering the mobile world arena. All the buzz (or FUD, since no release and pricing information was given) that has been created lately in order to promote this new iteration of MS mobile platform as the something utterly new, something that will ride like a tsunami through iPhone and Android ruled ocean fails to acknowledge that there is in fact not much new here - it is NOT a new operating system. Its first iteration saw the light of day, 2 years ago as a Windows Phone 7, a successor to clumsy Windows Mobile, which has, in one form or another been on the market since April 2000.
Yes, folks, Microsoft has been in the mobile game for over a decade now, way before the onslaught of Apple and Android powered devices.
Windows Phone 7 with its live tiles was a departure from widget filled screens of its competition, it was fast, stable, and refreshing. The tiles is the first thing potential customers see when they pick up the phone and is pretty much the 'juice' of the OS. But, are they really all that different from the 'static' iOS screen?After using it for two years now I can honestly say, no, they are not. Your email or text tiles display a number of received posts just like the ones you'd find on your iPhone or Android widgets with no additional information but a mere number. HTC hub which displays current weather conditions will update only if you open it as is the case with most other tiles. The only truly 'live' tiles are Me and the People hub; they keep flipping pics of your contacts giving you an impression of being 'alive' but are actually useless. I have also tested the new 7.8 screen with resizable tiles and while there are some advantages to it (you can fit more of them on the front screen) they are essentially flat, single colored widgets spaced close together covering the entire front screen. In comparison to multicolored and spaced-apart widgets on Android or iPhone, Windows Phone 8 is somewhat ugly and boring. But, of course this is a personal preference only and has nothing to do with the overall quality of the OS itself, only with the so called 'user experience'.
Here is a rendition of what it could look like to 'spice' it up:
Will Windows 8 become the 'third' ecosystem?
All the buzz created around it would suggest so, but we must not forget that two years ago we have seen similar buzz which resulted in weak brand recognition and dismal sales.
As Microsof trudged though the market in the last two years it failed on two of the most important accounts; building a customer base and the app ecosystem. Throughout this time it managed to garner a bit less than 3% of the market share, and that includes the old Windows Mobile users. If we take into account that in 2010 MS held 6% of the market share than we can safely conclude that MS was not even able to convert its staunch Windows Mobile users to the new platform. What ensued was a series of immature steps, the biggest one is obsoleting the whole platform in less than 2 years.
I would like to reiterate that WP7 is not a bad product, it has its hits and misses, and with more polish and better customer care it become a viable alternative to Android and Apple. It is a myriad of marketing and strategic mistakes which Microsoft has done in the last few years which may actually doom this OS before it has a chance to truly shine. Microsoft needs to change its DNA from a monopolistic to a free market player, the one who is listening to its customers and consumer trends. Only then will it stand a chance of long term survival.