Microsoft's Switch to Windows Phone Android app is a great ideaEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
We all know that marketing is a tricky thing. Some might even call it a slippery slope. How many times have you seen a commercial, whether it's on TV or on the Internet, and found yourself judging it for its content and message? Did it sell the product? Did the advertisement even show the product? And, more than anything else, by the time the commercial came to an end, did it make you want to buy whatever it was trying to sell?
Does anyone remember those first Palm webOS/Pre commercials for Sprint? Or how about the Pre Plus ads for Verizon that focused on the calendar? Those were some pretty striking ads, and not necessarily in a good way.
Advertisements are meant to make you want to buy something new. When it comes to mobile devices, though, it's working double duty: They need to make you want to buy something, but more often than not they probably need to make you want to switch from something else, too. A slippery slope! So they not only have to show you why it's good on its own, but also why it's better than what you're already using.
That's why advertisement campaigns aren't the only means to try to get you to switch. This is where Microsoft is nailing it, I think, at least on one front. They've just launched an Android application that's meant to get you ready to switch from Google's platform to Windows Phone. Yes, you read that correctly. Microsoft's launched an Android app, to make sure you're all ready to switch to Windows Phone.
The app is called (wait for it…) "Switch to Windows Phone," and it's available right now in the Google Play Store for free. What does it do? It's actually pretty ingenious: Switch to Windows Phone, once downloaded onto your Android device, will populate all the applications you have on your phone, turning it into a nice list, and then it will show you the counterparts available right now on Windows Phone.
If it can't find the exact match? It will find you an app that's similar in functionality. That's not all, though. It will then put that list into the cloud, so that when you switch over to Windows Phone and log into that device with your Outlook account, it will download all your missing applications without you having to go scour the Windows Phone Market for them on your own.
Essentially, Microsoft is doing its best to make sure that your device really is yours, right out of the box, without you having to worry about downloading all the things you'd be missing switching from one platform to another. It takes the search out of your set up process, and just makes sure all your apps are ready to go when you need them.
We all know that one of Microsoft's biggest obstacles is application availability. Whether or not someone has even looked, the general assumption is that Windows Phone just "doesn't have my app." Microsoft is doing their part to make sure that you know, well before you switch, that your app is available on their platform. (If it is available.) And even if the exact app isn't available, Microsoft's effort to try and find you an alternative is a nice extra step. It's like going beyond the call of duty.
They're simply trying to make you switch, by making it as comfortable as possible.
This is honestly one of the best campaigns for a mobile platform I've ever seen. This isn't just something that you use on the Web, where you type in an app and hope to find it through a long search. You don't have to write down all your important apps, then try to search for them once you get a Windows Phone, hoping for the best.
No, Microsoft is prepared to do all the heavy lifting, to make sure that you know what you have switching platforms. On top of that, they'll take care of downloading everything for you, too. This is the sort of thing you'd give a tip for: It's the equivalent of hotel staff not necessarily needing to carry your bags up to your room, but they do it anyway.
I think it's also a good move to try and nip some of this, "I hate Windows Phone, because I switched and they don't have my app!" talk that's out there. I know at least a few people, personally, who switched to Windows Phone because they loved the look and feel of it, but switched back to their previous platform when they couldn't find the apps they use every day. I spoke with a colleague just the other day, that they didn't want to switch platforms because they didn't want to have to download all their apps, after finding them individually, all over again.
Well, Microsoft is here to help you with that. Thankfully.
The only issue I could see is that Windows Phone has a lot of "alternatives," and not the application that someone may be using on Android. Some folks just don't want the alternative, as they've come to expect the best experience from the "real" or original application. I can relate to this, as there are some applications that I just prefer the experience with the original developer, and not one that simply mimics features, or functionality.
But, again, that's why this new application, that you download directly onto your Android device, is such a big deal. Such a cool idea. Microsoft wants you to be prepared, and if you do make the decision to switch, they want to see you switch comfortably. No hassle, or missing apps now. Just a nice list waiting for you after you switch, ready to be downloaded onto your shiny new Windows Phone.
But will it be enough? That's the real question, right? Or will we see a similar application launch on iOS? Do you think an app like this would help you decide to switch to Microsoft's mobile operating system? Or would it make any difference at all? Let me know what you think.