Vibrant is the new black, at least for Windows Phone 8

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| September 19, 2012

Windows Phone has always carried an air of promise. Its creators and their largest partners – Nokia, HTC and Samsung, at least here in the States – continue to convey their confidence in the fresh platform. It bears a different interface than its competitors with beautiful typography, flashy live tiles and popping accent colors. It's safe to say Windows Phone is marching to the beat of its own drum.

That beat, however, is one the general public has yet to begin tapping its foot to – a viral song yet to be discovered.

Approaching two years on the market, Windows Phone has yet to really get a good foothold in the market. According to the latest comScore report, Microsoft's mobile platforms – Windows Phone and Windows Mobile – claimed a total of 3.6 percent of the U.S. smartphone market share, down from 0.4 percent (or roughly 76,000 phones) from April.

The dip is likely a collective result of old Windows Mobile users upgrading to a non-Microsoft mobile OS and the ever-increasing number of feature phone-to-smartphone converts. However, Microsoft's mobile market share could take a positive turn in the next few months thanks to the impending launch of Windows Phone 8 and the new hardware it brings.

So far, we've seen five new Windows Phone 8 devices: Samsung ATIV S, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820, HTC 8X and HTC 8S. Of those five devices, four bear a very similar trait that differentiate them from the masses of Android smartphones and Apple's famed iPhone.

Color. And lots of it.

Officially in white, black, gray, red or yellow, the Lumia 920 will come in five colors. With additional colors, such as cyan or purple, the Lumia 820 only adds to the vast color options. However, the back panel on the 820 is removable and can be swapped with different colors, essentially making the color options open-ended. (It's worth noting that a leaked picture of a cyan painted Lumia 920 made its rounds just two days ago. My guess is that may be an AT&T exclusive, but anything could happen.)

And earlier today, HTC announced their two Windows Phone 8 handsets in full vibrant colors, too. The higher-end 8X will come in California Blue, Graphite Black, Flame Red and Limelight Yellow. Likewise, the 8S will bear two-tone chassis in Domino, Fiesta Red, Atlantic Blue and High-Rise Gray.

Bright, eye-popping colors have been in Nokia's mobile handset repertoire for quite some time, especially in its lower-end devices. But the Lumia 920 and 820 aren't the first high-end models to receive a splashy paint job. The N8, N9, Lumia 900, Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 hit the market in an array of colors. So when the Lumia 920 and 820 were announced in vibrant colors, no one was too surprised.

HTC is no stranger to releasing a phone or two with a lively color either. The HTC Rhyme on Verizon (remember the female-centric phone?), came in either purple or blue. Unlike Nokia, though, HTC has never been one to stray too far from the standard black, white or gunmetal smartphone colors, but they are notorious for throwing in some accent colors (like the red trim on the EVO 4G LTE or the red and yellow innards of many devices like the EVO 4G, Aria, DROID Incredible series or the global HD7).

Going with full-body paint jobs for Windows Phone 8 hardware, though, it's almost as if HTC is taking design cues from the Finnish firm, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Nokia is notoriously awesome at designing phones. (That theory stems a bit deeper than just the colors, though. Just look at HTC's choice in materials and the unibody chassis …)

I'm guessing the idea here is that such vibrant colors will draw in customers, especially among the younger crowds. Such bright colors amongst typically drab colored smartphones will certainly stick out and could seriously impact brick and mortar performance for Windows Phone, a place where it has failed in the U.S. since day one. In the same respect, I can't imagine too many business professionals will care for such colors.

Luckily, the notion here is choice. HTC nor Nokia forgot the business men and women who wouldn't be caught dead with a bright yellow or blue phone at work.

It's a smart move on both parties' accounts. Nokia has already turned some heads with PureView, and those color options are wearing on many wanting customers' patience. And it's time HTC steps out of shadows and puts up a serious fight for more market share. A little color to spruce things up can't hurt so long as it is also covering the basics.

Ultimately, all of these colors hint at a new story and direction for Windows Phone 8, that it's not all about work. People with Windows Phone like to play, too.

For me, colors are a hit or miss, something I can live without but also like to enjoy from time to time. Red is always lustrous – it would match my desk quite well. Yellow is nice, too. But HTC's choice in yellow rubs me the wrong way. Blues and purples aren't really my pace. Gray is a nice in-between. In the end, though, white and black are classics that I will always return to. I know if I pick a red, yellow or gray, I will eventually get tired of the color.

No less, colors are something I hope we see more of … across the board, not just on Windows Phone. Too much choice can be a bad thing when it comes to smartphones. We've gone over that already. But color is a different story – there can never be too many colors to choose from.

What say you, ladies and gents? Do you like all the color options for hardware with Windows Phone 8? Will all the more personal options bring more customers and attention to Windows Phone? Or is all of this just a fad? Do you hope such choices make their way to Android? iOS? If you could have any phone (current or future) in any color, what would it be?