Yesterday, while I was walking around a wireless retail brick-and-mortar location, a customer there was having a conversation with a friend of his. They were looking at phones, too. One of them was holding a brand new, just opened box for a black 32GB HTC One, but he was busy pointing at phones on the shelf to look at his new gadget. (This is foreign behavior to me. When I get something new, it's pretty much my entire world for at least the first ten minutes.)
They were standing in front of the Lumia 1020, and the second gentleman was flipping it over in his hands, end-over-end, just looking at the yellow shell and playing around with the Start screen. He seems pretty fascinated by it, and I have no idea if he was in the market for a new phone or not, but I felt like he was trying to figure out if he wanted to buy it or not.
The friend told him, matter-of-factly that Windows Phone "is terrible," and that Microsoft "is not the company you want to make your phone." At this point, I couldn't try to stop staring if I tried. I've heard some pretty outlandish things in my time, especially when people are talking about things they obviously don't like, but I was kind of dumbfounded at this guy's comments.
I didn't say anything, though. The second guy, the one who seemed genuinely interested in Windows Phone while he was using the product just nodded, put the phone down, and then they left. No argument. No, "Hey, I'm actually using it right now and it's not that bad." Just like that, his time with Windows Phone is apparently over.
Windows Phone just launched its own official Vine app, and we know that Instagram is coming, too. Those are two of the biggest apps that the mobile platform has been missing, so it's good news that they are finally making an appearance. It's long overdue, in fact. But, better late than never, right?
More than that, though, we know new features are coming down the pipe to Windows Phone, including a digital personal assistant codenamed Cortana, along with a new Live Tile that will work to bring all your notifications into one area (finally). These changes are just part of the entire suite of new things that Microsoft will undoubtedly show off early next year, and if Microsoft can make sure to keep up the hype as they gear up to launch new devices in 2014 without Nokia proper, then the future is certainly looking bright.
I can't help but wonder, though, with the ball being entirely in Microsoft's court now when it comes to making Windows Phone better across the board, is that random guy in a wireless retail location right? And I'm not talking about whether or not if Microsoft is the right company to "make phones," but more about timing.
With the purchase of Nokia's hardware division, Microsoft has effectively purchased the only real driving force in the Windows Phone universe and made sure that it's essentially completely up to them. But, what is Microsoft going to do to actually change anything? Is Microsoft absolutely positive that their own devices, surely "based" on what Nokia has been building (at least for a little while), going to be better than what Nokia has been doing, or would have done? I know a lot of people want a Surface phone, but I can't help but think those are the equivalent of the folks who really want a Nexus device.
So, my question to you all is: what do you think Microsoft can do to propel Windows Phone forward in any meaningful way? We know that more features will help, so what else? What kind of hardware do they need? Or will just getting more apps (eventually) fix the whole thing, regardless of what Microsoft does? Let me know what you think.