Sunday, January 20, 2013

Should Microsoft Give Up On Windows Phone?

Yes, I'm going there... It is no secret that adoption of Microsoft's new mobile platform has been anemic at best. The push that was Windows Phone 7 was killed in a few weeks. Again, the world was blasted with Windows Phone 8 a short time later. Still, Microsoft's mobile universe is too small to show up on most world wide usage meters.

As strange as it sounds, I feel that Microsoft will not succeed with Windows Phone until they either purchase Nokia to build Microsoft branded hardware, give away all the Apps or just make one version of Windows that works across their three screen concept. That's what we all hoped for with Windows Phone 8, and some areas it did get close, but it isn't there.

Instead of clinging to this hope of gaining control of the mobile market, how much stronger would Microsoft get if they created a full Office pack for Android and iOS? How many more users would go for Windows 8 for Android, rather than a Windows Phone or Surface?

Microsoft is and always has been a software company. They get compared to Apple, but Apple beat them to the punch. They try to break into the market that Android now owns, when there is no real advantage for anyone to come to their side. Overall, the Apps will determine what mobile OS that people will keep in their pockets.

This is where I think they should go from here: forget the past and think of how you can use the markets of the others against them.

1) Create an amazing Office website and mobile App for Android and iOS. Leverage the number of users that have a PC hooked to their smartphone and get them using your software. Utilize this in conjunction with services like SkyDrive for those two as well and you open an additional revenue stream for the future.

2) Create a new iTunes for Windows interface that looks as good as Zune did in Windows 7. Also, include Android users in this App as well. Sure Zune had its problems, but it was much better than the other options out there. By "welcoming" those iPhone and Android users with a native Windows 8 interface, you will expand your product base to include them, rather than asking them to leave what they already are comfortable with.

3) Make Windows 8 for Android, but charge for it. It is no secret that people love the "Live Tiles" of Windows and Windows Phone. Life at a quick glance is a great way to display information quickly.  When you compare the average Android widget, which is getting better and better by the moment, Live Tiles are easily superior. By creating a true "Windows" experience for Android, you once again welcome a user base that loves their devices but wants to run Windows. People will pay $4.99 for it as well. Most home themes will set users back a few bucks, and if you can make Android perform as well as Windows Phone does, you'll have plenty of users willing to spend the cash.

4) Expand the Xbox for "X" platform. There is zero reason that Microsoft couldn't bring the Xbox platform to iOS and Android. You will instantly gain 70% of the mobile market by making those titles available for those two mobile OS's.

Now, with that said, it isn't impossible for Windows Phone to succeed, but it won't be easy. If Microsoft is truly interested in making Windows Phone work, there is a major category that is missing. They need to take advantage of lower cost hardware worldwide.

It never fails to amaze me that a new smartphone is announced for a country like India that would be an amazing seller here. Take the Nokia Lumia 610 or the HTC 8s as examples. These two devices could be sold at the Microsoft Stores, unlocked for T-Mobile, AT&T and their bevy of MVNO carriers for under $300. This is still $100 more than a comparable Android device will set someone back, but without Windows for Android, it would be the next best option. Cheaper non-contract options would mean more available handsets for lower-end users and for use as a replacement device. If you look at the national prepaid wireless carriers, they all feature sub $100 Android powered smartphones. If something like a Lumia 610 were to drift on to a prepaid carrier like Simple Mobile's $40 a month plan, it would attract an entire new body of users.

What I'm trying to get to is that Microsoft is not going to win this battle without a major change in thought. They need to either become a hardware manufacturer or become a software company again. Doing both is only depleting both brands. If they embrace their software side, which I think they should, they will once again become the industry leader in productivity, creation and editing software. They will also have the ability to use their 'interface' in the majority of PC's and Mobile Devices on the planet. By simply embracing the market that has been carved out by their counterparts, Microsoft could easily gain a huge following with Xbox for iOS and Android, Office for Android and iOS, and even SkyDrive for them as well. Perhaps they need to stop worrying about the OS and spend a bit more time adapting some of their software instead.

Sent from my Nokia Lumia 810
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