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Why the Windows Phone has such a poor market share

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I have spent a great amount of time with both iOS , Android and Windows, since my first Smartphone in 2003. The Windows Phone OS is quite possibly one of the best interfaces I have used yet. It is user-friendly, offers a lot of information just from the home screen alone (without having to dig deep) and it works well with everything else Microsoft (desktop, tablet, Xbox, office and so forth). I feel like I can get to my applications and information quicker than the other OS options and still have a lot of points of customization.

iOS to me feels a little clunky at times, although it has been getting better and Android just seems boring (outdated). It really does help that I have always been a Windows user desktop-wise, so there is a big compatibility things there in keeping everything in the same OS environment.

I tend to have so many great things to say about Windows Phone, but it still maintains such a low market share, and it continues to shrink. I can’t be the only person out there who has a positive opinion. So if the OS is so great, and the hardware at times is quite competitive if not better at times (ie, 920 and 950XL during the times of their launch), how is it that they aren’t flying off the shelves as fast as the other two OS choices?

It all comes down to marketing more than anything. How many times have you turned to a channel to find a good commercial about an iOS or Android device. Just think of Motorola’s Droid commercials. Theatrical exposure that brings so much drama and attention to the name, leading to discussion everywhere. In the end, it was just another phone like the rest (but it had great marketing).

Now, consider how many times you have turned on the TV to find an enticing commercial about a Windows Phone. Possibly a few times on YouTube, but nothing more than something that looks like a Windows for desktop commercial. The wow value is either minimal or missing completely. The Lumia 950XL has some great specs to it, even now, standing its ground well against some of the recent devices to hit the market (and it launched Winter of 2015). Specs that would have jumped out in a well directed commercial looking to impress the viewers with. However, the only attention it grabbed seemed to be from those already well aware of the Windows Phone community.

The same thing applies to their attempts on pushing the dev kit out there. This is where they are hurting more than anywhere else. The app market has grown in the last few years, resulting in an increase in recognizable names in the app list. However, not well enough. I still find that nearly every time someone tells me to download their app, they retract their opinion when they find out it is a Windows Phone. When I buy a new device and go to download their app on my own, I am met with the cold reality, that they only support iOS and Android.

After all this time, developers still find it much easier and effective to lean on those two OS options and stop there. Where is Microsoft in all of this? Why don’t they have an entire team dedicated to educating major developers and possibly even offering to lend a helping hand in expanding their footprint, to help give things a push? Wizards and programs online to make the transition/addition as easy as possible.

They had the right idea when they approached Pebble about adding support for Windows. They even reportedly began to build the app for them to get them started. This was a great move that even got the attention of entities in the press, such as ourselves. Given, that deal did fall through since the founder of Pebble scrapped the project due to his own personal opinion of Windows, but it was a smart move nonetheless. Why hasn’t Microsoft reached out to major names like SiriusXM to work with them the same way? Tesla and many other brands lack an official app in Windows and this would have easily been fixed with a phone call.

It’s as though someone at the Redmond offices felt as though word of mouth was good enough and the rest will work itself out. My 13 year old brother thinks in this same fashion (but he is supposed to as he is just a kid, and not a college educated executive of a fortune 500 company). Yet, I also feel that he can come up with a better answer before they could.

I run into people talking about the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and the ability to plug it into a desktop-like environment. I explain the Microsoft Lumia 950 series have been able to do that for two years, and I am met with “Microsoft what?”.

When it came to the war between Windows Mobile OS (before Windows Phone came into existence) vs Android/iOS, Android/iOS took the win, without doubt. Given, they stole some from Windows on their way, but they simply took something and made it work better. Ok. However, Windows Phone replaces Windows Media Devices and completely changes things for the better. It was a rocky start as Microsoft didn’t throw in compatibility for all of the modern features at once (which was odd given by then, it shouldn’t have been any trouble to accomplish), but Windows Phone bloomed into one of the best ideas Microsoft ever had on the mobile front. They even now have an update schedule nearly as good as iOS (unlike Android, which chokes hard in this category).

The Nokia Lumia 920, for example, was the first phone I had for as long as I did (as a personal phone). I get bored of gadgets easily as I continuously look forward to the future when it comes to technology, yet I kept that 920 in my pocket from 2012 till 2016 (a broken record compared to my average time of about a year per device).  Now even I am finally wavering. I can no longer take hearing that my device isn’t compatible with something. A concept I didn’t even face until the first iPhone reared its head in 2007 (and have been facing ever since).

This year, I have begun seriously leaning into the direction of an Android. Too me, iOS devices are too locked down, proprietary and picky for my tastes. Android is still boring to me (for whatever reasons), however it offers support for the one thing I have always lacked these last 10 years: compatibility. All because Microsoft dropped the ball hard and couldn’t get their app market moving in the right direction.

There needs to be a hard push for assistance, education and marketing. Microsoft needs to dedicate a small team to calling all of the major companies and asking them one question “how can we help you develop an app for Windows and get this started?” Else, the next round (Surface Phone) feels as though it may be Microsoft’s last hoorah to break into the smartphone market with.

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About Author

James

Designer, Editor and Reviewer for Poc Network, ProAudio and Mobile Nations. James enjoys spending most of his time as an audio engineer and technician for the live music industry when he isn't running around the office here juggling an intense workload. He can also be found frequently in the nearby mountainous ranges, scrambling rocks and rappelling down large sections.

3 Comments

  1. Jack Smith on

    Is this article serious? Windows on desktop is NOT a choice but forced in many cases. So when someone had a choice with phones there was ZERO chance they were going to chose MS. Who wants the viruses and constant rebooting and updating, etc.

    It is really not that complicated.

    • James

      Surprisingly, Windows Phone has been the least susceptible mobile OS when it comes to viruses and malware, with a near flawless record (some reports of apps that made it into the app market that didn’t quite abide by the privacy rules they claimed to have, allowing them to come close to being called malware). Virus troubles on the desktop OS is an absolute, but on their mobile platform, has been unheard of (thus far). This is due to extremely tight permissions. Nothing is perfect of course, so the future is unknown.

  2. Captian Obvious on

    You should really do a little research, and also have some basic understanding of the mobile industry before you write. “There needs to be a hard push for assistance, education and marketing. Microsoft needs to dedicate a small team to calling all of the major companies and asking them one question “how can we help you develop an app for Windows and get this started?”” Microsoft has had such a team since the earliest days of the Windows Phone. The answer to your posed question, which is exactly what is asked, will always be “have a significant marketshare of mobile phones”, because otherwise, any app that has traction on iOS or Android can’t afford to expend resources supporting another application fork, even if Microsoft pays for the initial development.

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