Up to this point, Microsoft's Windows Phone has struggled to gain any substantial market share, regardless of high customer satisfaction, great hardware and topnotch software performance. This poor market performance can be attributed to next to no support from wireless providers and the lack of a real differentiating factor. The software is more or less bland – which some find to be a plus, or a relief from "Android's chaos" – and the hardware is easily lost amongst the sea of perpetually released Android phones.
Despite a very rocky start, there is still mountains of potential for Windows Phone. Microsoft's upcoming tablet line will make for a new yet familiar ecosystem. And lest we forget the partnership they now have with Nokia, a mobile force to be reckoned with (especially overseas). Given some more time to curate, Windows Phone could very well be the third ecosystem to join the likes of Android and Apple's iOS, but not without some more work.
The long-awaited Mango update finally hit last month, and brought some rather significant changes. But even our own Sydney, who "fell in love with the minimalist yet elegant design of Windows Phone and the Metro UI," finds the Mango update to be less exciting than she imagined, "despite the major improvements it brings." My Mango review was much of the same, and I feel Windows Phone still lacks the differentiating factor it needs to pull consumers into its camp. I, along with most other Android and iOS users, have too much invested in my current platform of choice to jump ship for virtually no added benefits.
As of late, there has been a strong push for camera technology in the mobile realm – this is where Microsoft can stick their foot in the door. More and more people aim to use their smartphones as their point and shoot versus dedicated digital cameras, for various reasons: portability, device consolidation, cloud storage, data connectivity, social media, etc. Thus manufacturers like HTC have established devices with advanced lens cameras, and Apple's upcoming iPhone 4S touts a mobile camera that gives dedicated point and shoot cameras a run for their money.
According to WMPowerUser and a job posting over at Microsoft's own website, Microsoft is ramping up efforts in the image sensing area, too. The first paragraph of the job listing reads:
"Do you want to help shape the future of mobile technology? The Windows Phone division is Microsoft’s fastest growing business where we are building the next version of Windows Phone. One of the areas that we are investing heavily is the camera experience where we intend to make the 'Window [sic] Phone the best camera you will ever own'."
One benefit that will ultimately play in Microsoft's favor – when it comes to camera tech, at least – is dictation over minimum hardware requirements. Not only will they be able to improve the camera software across the board, they can standardize Windows Phone shooters, too. And who might play the biggest part in that? Why Nokia, of course.
Nokia has been known for their topnotch cell phone hardware for years – more specifically, their attention to detail when it comes to cameras and lenses. The camera on the N8 (with a Carl Zeiss lens) was leaps and bounds ahead of the competition at the time of its release. The N9 and the identical Windows Phone, Sea Ray, both sport Carl Zeiss lenses that also taunt the competition.
If Microsoft can use the Nokia deal and this camera technology push to their advantage, set substantial camera requirements (like Carl Zeiss, or other real camera lenses) for partner OEMs and market their movement accordingly, this could be a huge move forward for them.
Better cameras alone, however, won't sell phones. Microsoft needs to keep improving their software, spruce up the UI a bit and entice more OEMs and carriers to join and promote their cause. But for customers looking to replace their point and shoot camera with a phone, Windows Phone could be the platform to take to in the not too distant future.
What say you, pups? Is the camera in your phone that important to you? Would you forget platform or OEM loyalty for a much better camera in your phone? Or will you settle for a mediocre camera to stay with your platform and manufacturer of choice?
Image via PocketNow