Is Windows Phone 7 doomed thanks to carrier rep biases?
It's pretty obvious that Windows Phone 7 isn't nearly as successful as Microsoft was hoping. Even in the vicious market ran by Android and iOS, the platform captivated the market and headlines alike for several months pending its release. After Windows Phone finally arrived though, all the buzz seemed to die off rather quickly.
Several have tried to put their finger on the many reasons behind Windows Phone's less than stellar adoption. Some blame it on the interface being too boring and the platform simply not having enough applications and games (in comparison). It would also be easy to argue that the specifications and hardware of the devices hardly compare to its Android or Apple counterparts.
Truth is, a vast majority of consumers could not care less about some of those things. All they want is an “Internet” phone that works and lasts them through the day. They may have heard the terms “Windows Phone 7” or “Android,” but they couldn't begin to tell you what they mean. So what happens when they walk into a carrier store come upgrade time?
The uneducated customer walks into the store and begins to look around. Android phones and the iPhone are sat upon pedestals with spotlights shining down, giving them a sense of heavenly aurora (there may or may not be some exaggeration here). The Windows Phones are placed in the far back corner of the shop, lost and forgotten, some are even missing from their designated plinth. When the store rep greets the customer and listens to what the customer needs, he comes up with two suggestions: iPhone or an Android smartphone.
What is even worse is when customers go in looking specifically for a Windows Phone device. Some carrier reps will attempt to push the consumer towards another platform. I have personally had this happen to me several times. It doesn't always go like this, but even in my experiences of playing the role of the “uneducated consumer,” I have never been offered a Windows Phone, especially not over Android.
An editor from PC Mag, one from Boston Herald and another from International Business Times have all done small-scale studies and have reported similar results. Jessica Van Sack of the Boston Herald claims reps told her, "In terms of productivity, it’s just not there yet," and "I’m not really sure about that one. I haven’t really used it." Reps also told Joe Romaine of IBT, "Windows Phone 7 is very unreliable. Its has many problems. We get complaints all the time from people who bought them from us."
It sounds to me like these carrier reps have not had enough hands-on time with Windows Phone and are simply stating what they have heard of have been told instead of personal experience. Regardless, the lack of support from store-level associates is undoubtedly a thorn in Microsoft's side and is likely taking its toll on the Windows Phone platform. The good thing is, Microsoft does recognize this store-level bias and is working to correct it. Windows Phone product manager, Greg Sullivan, spoke to PC Mag, stating:
"It's true that there's work to do from a marketing standpoint, and we have teams in place that are doing retail salesperson training, providing them with evaluation devices so they can use it and become more familiar...There's a whole host of efforts that are being undertaken to help get the work out, and it does take a little time."
For all you Windows Phone fans out there, here's to hoping that the Mango update ahead, along with the Nokia deal, will bring a little more respect for the platform. With some serious hardware, specs and a major update under its belt, maybe the platform will actually be suggested to customers.
Have you, as a wireless customer, been pushed away from Windows Phone 7 by carrier reps? If so, you can make record of it at the Windows Phone Tattletale site, made specifically for customers like you to voice your opinions and reviews of the experience you have had with trying to purchase a Windows Phone 7 device on a retail level. That's right, let it be heard!