Since a fish-like attention span will have some creating assumptions at the mere title, let’s clear this up immediately: I do consider myself a fan of Windows Phone. Yes – I’m a Windows Phone fan.
Though I did make a big deal of it something of a year back when Windows Phone officially drew me away from Android, I’ve now gone through the Lumia 520, 1020, Icon, 1520, 820, 830, 635 and my current is the Lumia 930. I do also have an LG G3 which satiates an Android itch every blue moon… but it mostly stays shelved (and there was a brief period of iPhone 6 in there… but avid readers of my content already know it doesn’t take long for me to get bored with iPhones). What you’ll hear a vocal minority saying about Lumia smartphones having the best cameras rings true, and I’ve fallen for the live tiles completely.
I don’t think I can go back to a phone that doesn’t shave those seconds off my daily activities with glanceable information, and going without the ability to long press a button while it’s locked and be in Lumia Camera 5 without ANY delay makes everything else feel like a chore.
What separates the *fan* from a *fanboy* is that ability to recognize and admit when there’s problems.
While it may surprise some, it’s not apps I’m here to talk about. There was a crucial point in 2014 where the app situation improved drastically and no one gave that enough credit… while the tween audience adopting the platform will still be sorely lacking their SnapChat, Windows Phone is now at a point in which there’s at least five apps able to do any given daily task I need whether it be work, college, social media, leisure… anything. What I’m here to talk about is this god-awful hardware strategy that I truly do believe is self-destructive.
When someone goes to their local carrier to buy an iPhone or a Nexus, there’s very little confusion about what to expect because they don’t necessarily keep a massive deluge of hardware coming down the pipeline.
Microsoft’s strategy? FLOOD THE GODDAMN MARKET. I don’t think we’ve gone one month of 2015 without Microsoft announcing a new phone. Lumia 432, 435, 532, 540… all fairly new announcements considering the Lumia 640, 640 XL and their respective LTE variants haven’t even been made available in massive markets (like the USA) yet. What the hell is the 432 anyway – Oh, an entry point for emerging markets? I thought that’s what the last ump-teen phones were for; put international radios in these phones in the first place and you – Microsoft – can save the world from mobile confusion!
The inherent flaw with this strategy is that it’s hurting Microsoft and confusing the masses. Having a phone’s name shift into a very vague and beta-feeling series of numbers already harms any chance that a Windows Phone’s name may become as sticky as “iPhone,” why add more fuel to that fire? We saw the groundbreaking success of the Lumia 520 – and it’s understandable that Microsoft seeks to replicate that. We only need one cheap low-end phone to do that though. There’s people who bought the Lumia 535 and 930 factory unlocked from Microsoft whom do not have the latest version of 8.1 Denim – and since there’s no carrier barrier on unlocked phone, this is actually unreasonable.
What Microsoft is doing here is ignoring everything that every successful mobile OEM has done. A successful product isn’t built on first-party ubiquity. Ubiquity is a necessary evil, but that’s what third parties are for. Let Acer, Samsung, Yezz, Blu, Xiaomi and the rest create ubiquity; Microsoft’s focus should be on creating just a couple “signature” experiences.
As was noted before, there is a necessity for a low-end phone… but we only need one of those. One low end phone, one mid-tier, one high-end phone and perhaps one specialty phone (akin to the Lumia 1020). Without so much hardware, focus can then be shifted to assuring that they make it to all the major markets, all the major carriers… and as an added bonus, polishing the products with software updates will be easier to manage. Hardware revisions need to come no sooner (or later) than a year… and when it happens, it should be another 3-4 phones and no more. This will establish the one thing Windows Phone – as a platform – lacks the most: Consistency.
I love the platform… and with the app situation improved to the degree it has, I don’t even feel like it’s a “support the underdog” situation anymore… but Microsoft is making a lot of mistakes here that are catching up quickly.