The iPhone… I’ll say it right here, right now, “It’s always been just about perfect.” See, there it is in black and white. For the newbie and the feature phone user, there is nothing that works better than iOS. It’s simple to use, easy to navigate and everyone has one so if you need help, you can ask a friend how to do something. Most importantly, they just work. Steve Jobs always made sure of this. Before anything was released, software or hardware, it went through more testing than nuclear missles before going into operation. Something has changed since Mr. Jobs passed away, and I’m thinking it just might be what Microsoft needed to see before giving up on their mobile hopes.
In the last few months, iPhone’s in particular have been plagued with something that Android, BlackBerry and past generation Windows Mobile users are all too familiar with – bugs. Whether it was the phone bricking, non startable reboot screen or the latest slew of craptastic errors from the fingerprint sensor being ‘modified by a third party’ and having your phone lock up. While that might be enough to sway many to leave their beloved iOS platform, and may infact encourage some just to update to a newer device, there’s more going on behind the curtain than just some buggy software.
Apple has done something that may help ‘core integration’ of certain features, but what it really does is begin to eliminate choice and alienate developers. They have begun pushing their services, perhaps seeing that Microsoft has the right ideas for mobile going foward, by foricing iCloud Mail, iCloud Drive and iOS Notes on to users devices without them even asking for them. Of course, many iOS users are already using the Gmail, Dropbox and Evernote Apps exactly for the purposes that the Apple alternatives go, but how long will it last before those companies cry foul and leave for greenter pastures?
Sure, Apple has about 1/2 of the US smartphone market right now, but that’s where Microsoft was just before the iPhone came out. Android has the other 1/2 of the US market and would gladly welcome those disgruntled iOS people into their ranks. While it won’t happen over night, it’s moves like this that begin to sway the tide from one OS to another. Just like when Windows Mobile began losing to the BlackBerry from RIM. Or when the BlackBerry OS bled out to the iPhone. An even stronger case could be made for when Symbian, an OS that had the backing of almost every major manufactuerer in the world and controlled 80% of the world market died in a matter of months when everyone left the program behind.
So, where is Microsoft’s play in this? There is only one answer and it needs to happen as quickly as they can get it right – the Surface Phone. It’s a rumor device at this point an we’ve heard some doozies about it, but to be honest, the super-premium Surface Phone is the only way that Microsoft will win back any of those Apple users before they switch to Android. My play looks something like this: Take the old Smoked By Windows Phone campaign and bring it back from the dead. Stock up on Lumia 535s and 950s, unlocked and ready to go. Perhaps a 535 variant for Verizon and Sprint could be done up quickly as well. Then bring in the Surface Phone as the top tier.
The new trade in program would feature an App Challenge, where iOS users bring in their devices to stump the Windows crowd into not being able to do something from their Windows devices. The chances of finding basics that you can’t do with Windows 10 is pretty slim, but if they aren’t sold on the OS and do find something that Windows can’t do, a little bonus prize is all theirs. Maybe a 90 day subscription to Office 365, or a 50GB bonus to their New OneDrive account with auto-photo backup? If they do get stumped and decide that Windows is the right choice for them, a bigger prize awaits – a new Windows Phone.
The Windows Phone giveaway would not be like the last one where you get the top tier hardware from your choice of vendors regardless of the hardware you turn in, but rather a system where depending on the phone your trade in, you get a similar level Windows device. For example, if you have an iPhone 5/5s, you get the Lumia 535. For the 6 you get the Lumia 950 and for the 6+ you get the Lumia 950XL. For the 6s or 6s+, you get the coveted Surface Phone. There would also be a bank of PC’s set up to transfer data from your iPhone to your new Windows account to upload to your phone in-store, just to make switching over even easier. If they wanted to extend this to Android, you could do that also, but don’t expect that Surface Phone for anything less than a 128GB Galaxy S6 or S7 at this point.
The Smoked By Windows Phone giveaway was hugely successful and helped millions of dead Windows devices find their way into people’s hands. I say dead, because by the time the program happened, Windows Phone 7 was all but ready to move to 8 in the development cycle and they knew that the older devices would not be upgraded. Same story today. The current run of Windows Phone’s will be out-dated by the end of the year. It’s time to get them out of the warehouses and into the hands of users.
If you’re friends with the Microsoft marketing team or maybe even buddies with Ben Rudolph, pass along that it’s time to start smoking again. Perhaps it should be ‘Stumping’ this time instead. Either way, it’s time to get those phones moving and back into the hands of the people that will use them.