Microsoft needs the iPhone of Windows Phone

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| September 10, 2011

Right now, Research In Motion seems to be in a pretty precarious situation. After all, people can’t stop talking about what should happen with the Waterloo-based company; ranging from selling the company itself, to selling certain – or all of their-- patents, or just lying down and calling it quits. Everyone has an opinion. And, rightfully so, people have opinions about the state of Microsoft and their still fledgling mobile OS, Windows Phone. I know that it’s probably not really fledgling anymore, and considering its first major update brought features like Copy & Paste to the platform, I probably shouldn’t be calling it that. But, to me, Windows Phone (as great as the potential is), is still indeed a “baby” OS that needs plenty of room to develop. But, does Microsoft have that sort of time?

It wasn’t too long ago when I kicked around the idea that the “slow-and-steady wins the race” approach for Microsoft would eventually pan out, because that’s just how Microsoft works. And while the rest of the mobile space may be skyrocketing forward, Microsoft is going to continue to do their own thing and be okay with that. But, after watching HP throw in the towel on webOS (at least on the smartphone side of things), I can’t help but wonder if Microsoft is just delaying the inevitable when it comes to Windows Phone.

Truth be told, I think Windows Phone has every right to be part of the mobile OS argument. Between BlackBerry OS, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, there’s more than enough room. Sure, there are other platforms out there, but we’re just focusing on the “big dogs” at the moment. And even if Windows Phone’s presence in the market isn’t as vast as the others, we know that personal opinion on the OS is pretty high. People like using Windows Phone – so why aren’t more people buying it?

We know it probably has something to do with carrier retailers not hyping Windows Phone much at all. It could also have something to do with the fact that Microsoft doesn’t have a lot of phones out there to choose from. While not having a lot of phones to choose from doesn’t really matter in the case of Apple, Microsoft doesn’t have “the iPhone” of Windows Phone devices. I think it’s time that Microsoft really starts focusing on their handsets, and the manufacturers that create them. Not giving one company more focus over another, but just going out of their way to make some really, really high-end devices. Even if HTC releases, what, four Windows Phone-powered devices in 2012, make one of them really stand out. Make that device, when it comes to HTC branding, be the one device that everyone wants. As I said above, make it the iPhone of Windows Phone devices.

But, that’s probably not going to happen. Microsoft has their plan, and while they are indeed making Windows Phone all the more better with the next major upgrade to the platform, I honestly don’t believe there’s enough there, face value wise, to grasp more people. Sure, aesthetic changes to an OS with any kind of upgrade aren’t common, but they do happen – and I don’t think that’s going to happen with Windows Phone any time soon. Because of that, Windows Phone will keep looking like that original release, and people are just going to wonder “what’s new?”

Microsoft is already making the huge investment they need to bring Windows Phone into the field, unlike HP was willing to do, and that’s a great first step. It’s huge, in fact. But, Microsoft needs to start making bigger leaps, especially when it comes to the hardware. People need to look at a Windows Phone and start drooling, just like many people do with the iPhone, and just like many people do with plenty of Android-powered devices out there. Microsoft can’t let this slow-and-steady ideal bog them down, and let the rest of the market outrace them. Because it looks like that may be happening, even before Mango makes it to the stage.