Today Microsoft officially launched Windows Phone 7 along with its handset and carrier partners. Microsoft has had success with its Windows Mobile products in the past with enterprise customers but has failed to achieve any significant traction with Windows Mobile in the consumer’s space. Windows Phone 7 is the culmination of over two years of resources and work on Microsoft’s behalf and may be their last chance to make any significant consumer inroads.
Last Friday Google’s Android creator Andy Rubin made a statement in an interview claiming that the world didn’t need another mobile platform. What I found interesting about his statement was that he has forgotten that the company he currently works for (Google) was started at a time when many in the industry said there was no need for another search engine. In the technology industry there is always room for innovation. The real question is whether Windows Phone 7 is innovative enough to keep Microsoft in the mobile game. Read on for further analysis.
The consumer mobile device market is certainly large enough to sustain multiple platforms. IDC forecasts that in 2020 there will be 31 billion connected devices. Many of those devices will need an intelligent embedded operating system to take advantage of hardware innovations and services. Unlike the history of the personal computer I don’t believe there will be one dominant platform that owns the biggest chunk of market share of the 31 billion connected devices.
Since the mobile device market can sustain multiple platforms and Apple, Android and RIM are the smart-phone market leaders Microsoft needs Windows Phone 7 to gain traction with consumers and developers if they hope to get the market share they need to compete in the long run. From what I have seen from the time I have had with different Windows Phone 7 devices I’d say I think it has a shot. From the nine devices at launch I’d say Microsoft’s partners agree.
Even though Microsoft has created a platform with a solid out of box experience, a slick user experience, Zune music services and marketplace, full Office integration, XBOX Live services and a marketplace with 2,000 apps at launch, success is still no guarantee.
Marketing and retail positioning will be critical for consumers to give Windows Phone 7 a fair shake. Android is one of the fastest growing platforms on the market today and consumers are walking into stores asking for Android devices. Microsoft has an uphill battle with Android’s momentum but if Microsoft and their partners like HTC, Samsung, and LG can market their Windows Phone 7 products effectively the experience will speak for itself.
Things to Watch
- How carriers position Windows Phone 7 device at retail
- If / When the iPhone comes to other carriers will consumers continue to evaluate other platforms
- How will carriers differentiate their Windows Phone 7 devices
- Can Microsoft keep innovating on Windows Phone 7