After several months of constant releases, updates, and leaks, we finally had a somewhat slow week. Nokia announced two new flagship Windows Phone devices, which obviously is the top news. During the podcast, we discussed whether or not there is room for Windows Phone and if these two new devices are the key to bringing Windows Phone to the masses. Other big headlines for the week included Sony splitting from Ericsson and Samsung taking over the number one spot in worldwide smartphone shipments, putting it ahead of Apple. The topic of Sony no longer partnering with Ericsson brought up some interesting ideas on how the company could begin to integrate all of their devices into one experience and what this could mean for the future of technology. We finished up the podcast with an open Q & A.
Neither Android or iOS are the end-all and be-all of smartphone OSes. There are so many other ways to approach the smartphone. webOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone have shown us a different system and design, all of them practical and each one attractive in its own way. The fact that 60% of U.S. cell phone users still have not switched to a smartphone shows that there is plenty of room for a third or even fourth operating system. webOS did not fail because of indelible shortcomings of the OS. BlackBerry has not lost its grip on the market because of some inability on the part of the OS to morph into a more modern counterpart of the original. No, the problem was the management of these OSes. An OS cannot market itself, create appealing hardware for itself, improve itself, or evolve itself to entice new customers. Without proper management, an OS is dead in the water. The sad tale of webOS showed us that and the frustrating saga of BlackBerry is walking proof of how bad management can destroy something great.
Microsoft already has a unique approach to smartphones that will appeal to some people. Taking the focus off of apps and putting it on an integrated experience with features that negate the need to download apps creates a very simple and streamlined experience. These new Nokia devices bring beautiful hardware that will intrigue customers. Microsoft is halfway there. webOS had the software, but not the hardware or the right advertisement. BlackBerry had the software, but not the hardware. Now it has the hardware but not the right pricing or advertising. Windows Phone has the software and the hardware. All it needs now is advertising. Consumers deserve a third option. Hopefully Windows Phone can grow and improve and deliver that.
While this isn't an easy out for Sony - making strides in the smartphone market will still be an uphill climb - it does present some interesting options for the technology giant. For one thing, it means Sony has more freedom to strongly integrate all of their services to make them work together. Imagine a smartphone or tablet, TV, computer, and game console that are all compatible. What you could do with content is awesome enough but what it could mean for new ways of interacting with that content or creating new kinds of content is interesting as well.
I do feel that Sony will need to have a stronger smartphone and tablet line-up before they can accomplish this goal. They shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that the idea alone will be enough to sell devices. Even Apple couldn't get by with that approach to Apple TV and they have some of the best marketing around. The Xperia Arc was a high-end device with great specs, but it seemed to fall behind the competition in terms of performance, probably due to Sony's intense UI. The Xperia Play, while a fantastic idea, was not carried out properly. Rather than being a PSP Go attached to a cell phone, it was more like a cell phone with PSP Go controls. The game selection seemed to be lacking and, again, the spec sheet didn't offer the stand-out performance you would expect from such a hyped-up device. However, the potential has always been there, but performance is key. If Sony can get it together and deliver stand-out products, it will be exciting to see where they can take this compatibility idea in the future.