Thursday, April 9, 2015

Does Microsoft Need A Flagship Device?


We have now hit the 8th month since the last major Windows Phone flagship hit in the US and nearly a year since the last of them hit world wide markets. The last flagship to hit the market, the HTC One M8 for Windows. The last world wide release was the Lumia Icon/930. Since then, it’s been nothing but 400, 500 and 600 devices, along with a smattering of 800 series phones. Nothing that rivaled the powerhouses that were the Lumia 1520 or 1020, or even the 920 for that matter. It’s been all quite from Redmond and their newly acquired smartphone line.

Even at World Mobile Congress, Microsoft only threw out the Lumia 640 and 640XL. Both devices are fully capable and come at a very sweet price point. This move prompted the tech industry to ask, “When do we get our flagship?” More blogs and writers took it a step further and stated to demand to know. A simple answer of, “This fall, after Windows 10 comes out,” was all they got. As funny as I find this, my bigger question is, “Why does Microsoft need to release a flagship device?”

In reality, the M8 is way too powerful for Windows. It runs it like a dream, but there just isn’t much there to run. There’s no SnapChat, Klout, very few mobile banking solutions and the worst part – the shrinking body of Apps that continues to get smaller and smaller as developers give up their time to other platforms that are gaining in user base. Frankly, I don’t blame them one bit, but at the same time, this is where Microsoft should be putting their resources. We saw what they could do with YouTube, and it was gorgeous.


Imagine if Microsoft publishes Windows 10, that runs smooth as silk on a Lumia 635 (sub $50 price range without contract) and could save you $100’s every month in phone rentals and data charges. Honestly, it’s a perfect scenario for most users, but a nightmare for carriers. It would create a flood of users bolting for MVNO’s that would offer $35 plans with smaller data caps and no taxes and fees. It would be a nightmare for the networks that support them. Of course, it also just shows how heavily inflated the carriers are with their stores, sales people and ‘support’ staff.


While I would love to see a new flagship device, I would rather see more devices come to market in the lower to middle ranges that would sway people to trying Windows to start with. BLU Products already has a good selection of lower range and mid range Windows devices. The $150 price point of the BLU Win HD makes it a very solid choice for new buyers. Unfortunately, the great news ends there. Since Microsoft has their ‘Lumia Exclusive’ stamp on so many Apps, the third party devices now seem like stepchildren to the Windows lineup. This is what needs to change most of all.

In fact, I pulled my M8 out of the drawer and did a quick count… 212… 212 Apps that I have had on various Windows Phone’s in the past are not compatible with my M8. 40-50 of these Apps were ‘Lumia Exclusives’ and another 40 of them are just no longer compatible. The bleeding needs to stop or the 3rd party makers will walk. Open up your Apps and get Windows growing Microsoft. You aren’t Apple and you don’t have a monopoly on any OS at this point. Get with it.

I’ll just bring this to a close right now. Microsoft does NOT need a flagship device. Microsoft needs to get the Apps that people want and to stop losing those that people use. Bringing in the power developers like Rudy Hyun and the game makers is a great start, but opening up the catalogs for everyone would be subject of the greatest importance to every user on the planet. They could come out with an all metal Lumia with a 50MP camera, 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, but it will still fall flat because Instagram sucks, Tumblr has a data leak of epic proportions and I can’t find how to share a video on anything but Facebook now. Oh, and by the way, without Play To access, I can’t even stream music to my home theater… Thanks for the new phone though Microsoft, the camera is awesome and the photos take up all my OneDrive space now!

For now, leave me out of the flagship debate and put my vote towards getting some Apps finished up. You seem to have quite a few really good programmers there, think you can have a few of them start coding some vicious stuff for sharing videos, controlling home audio and maybe even – wait for it – blog from it? Oh yea, I went there… Maybe this fall though… Maybe this fall?

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