It’s hard to know how Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is doing so far. Certainly, there are already a lot of users that love the platform but how has that translated to sales? Is the channel being stuffed with product, is there respectable sell-through, and are numbers in line with Microsoft’s own expectations? So far Microsoft is staying mum on launch numbers.
My wild guess is that sales numbers are respectable but not stellar. So, what is Microsoft going to need to do to get new (or returning) customers?
From a technical standpoint there are certainly a few things Windows Phone 7 could use to make it more capable, and we all know what those are. The core OS is very good but with some critical features missing Microsoft will not be able to appeal to the more technically savvy, a group that tends to be influencers and should not be ignored. Having said that, having the most technologically advanced platform does not necessarily translate into more sales.
Well, sorry Microsoft but there isn’t much you can do here. Not to say that Microsoft has no brand, just that it is not enough to compete with other brands. Apple has a freakishly powerful brand image and following, especially with the freakish iPhone (oops, my opinion reared it’s ugly head!). People want to own Apple products and want to brag about it. There are not many that are bragging about Windows.
Google has a fairly good brand name in Android. It has wooed geeks with a very good platform and mainstream users with both apps and a plethora of hardware to suit anyone’s fancies. It’s decidedly the un-iPhone in that regard.
Microsoft is actually riding a bit of a brand high right now. Windows 7 has been a great success for them and people have forgiven the evil empire for the sins that were Windows Vista...for the most part. The same is happening with Windows Phone 7 as compared to Windows Mobile 6.x. Microsoft is also connecting with some of its recent ads, although not with everyone. Well heck, they’re certainly better than the Seinfeld ones!
(Ok, I didn’t just write that subheading, did I?)
Microsoft’s best bet for winning people to Windows Phone is to prove its commitment to the platform with continual updates that accelerate it beyond the competition. In other words, time and effort will be the keys to the success of Windows Phone. This is not to say Windows Phone isn’t going to do moderately well in the short term, but it’s biggest growth will be long term and will come as consumers are slowly won over from a technical and brand point of view.
Corporate sales is another story all together and may just be the unspoken target. While Microsoft has targeted consumers with this launch it’s easy to see how corporate users could really benefit from Windows Phone 7. Sharepoint integration is the unsung hero on Windows Phone 7 (at least for corporate users) and as things mature you will see companies adopt this platform for that and it’s excellent Exchange and Office document support. All that with a consistent and simple user experience, excellent battery life and the backing of Microsoft makes for a compelling argument for business.
Microsoft has the resources and drive to do whatever it takes for Windows Phone to be at or very near the top of the heap; its biggest challenge is marketing, an area it has struggled with in the past. If Redmond can get it right and consistently promote the strengths and growing support for Windows Phone it will win over the reluctant...with time.