Can Windows Phone steal the attention later this year?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: June 5, 2012

 

This October, Windows Phone will turn two years old. We’re basing that off its launch date, not an announcement window. That’s a pretty big milestone for any company, especially in one that is as hectic and vicious as the mobile industry. It’s hard to make headway into the mobile world, but Microsoft’s slow-and-steady pace means that they are in it for the long-haul. Microsoft is clearly not giving up on Windows Phone, and anyone who loves mobile technology should be eagerly anticipating what Windows Phone 8 has in store for us.

Even for someone like me, who is admittedly bored with the glance-and-go technique of Windows Phone right now, I’m still confident in the platform’s potential. And, as we’ve seen made evidenced with the announcement of Xbox SmartGlass, that potential is just continuously expanding. It’s up to Microsoft to actually turn it into something.

No one can deny that Windows Phone is growing up. Just today, it was revealed through All About Windows Phone that Microsoft had passed the 100,000 applications milestone for their mobile platform. Quite an achievement, especially for a platform that a year ago was being bashed for not having the applications that people wanted.

Applications only tell part of the story, though. Interestingly enough, though, I think it’s a good indicator that Microsoft is on the brink of a big shift. Right now they are just over two percent market share, which isn’t a big number at all. It’s growing, though, and I think that momentum can go a long way this year if a couple of things fall into place for the Redmond-based company.

First, there’s Google. We’re putting Google first because while Apple has their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) right around the corner, that’s only part of the story. Google will be showing off the next version of Android, which is reportedly Jelly Bean, and has a chance to surprise everyone with some new features. There are some who believe this won’t be a huge update, while others think it will be.

Apple has to surprise everyone who might be getting bored with iOS, both in terms of software and hardware. New rumors suggest that the new iPhone will look a lot like the iPhone 4 (and 4S), but just taller. And, the newest whispers point to an overhaul of iOS on the inside, from the apps past the icon, and not on any face value elements. Basically, if these rumors pan out, then we’re getting a taller iPhone 4S and an iOS that’s not updated on the top level.

If people are indeed getting bored with iOS, and the next version of Android can’t swing in any real waves of new customers, then it would be perfectly possible for Microsoft to fill the gaping hole with Windows Phone. Why? Because we’re set to see a brand new version of the mobile OS later this year, which should also hopefully mean we see some new hardware as well. If Microsoft can manage to “wow” all of those out there who are bored with iOS and uninspired by Android, then those are new customers.

I have no doubt at all that the teams behind Windows Phone know that this is a potentially big year for Windows Phone, even if it all does hang at the end of it. Apple has to make some pretty big ripples in the ocean of the mobile industry, while Google just has to add a few more tweaks to entice a new batch of customers. Microsoft has to prove that their mobile OS can adapt and grow, and not just be a stagnant piece of software that so many people point at Apple’s iOS for doing.

Microsoft needs to be ready to capitalize on what the other companies don’t do, and keep their focus on the ecosystem and connected devices, between tablets, gaming consoles and smartphones. Microsoft may be able to make some significant headway this year, if they’re ready to jump.

Do you think that 2012 could be the year Windows Phone finally makes an impression? Let me know in the comments!