[Editor's Note: Charlie Kindel is a former Windows Phone general manager who left Microsoft last year to join the startup world. He shares his thoughts on Windows Phone 8 in this guest post.]

Few believe Nokia will survive as a company if Windows Phone 8 isn’t successful. How can we tell if Windows Phone and Nokia will live or die?

Coal miners used to take canaries down into the mines to detect deadly gasses. If the canary suddenly dropped dead it was a warning to the miners they were about to die too. The canary in the coal mine for Windows Phone is the sales force responsible for selling Windows Phone at retail.

My day-after-Christmas blog post last year, titled “Windows Phone is Superior, Why Hasn’t it Taken Off?” was hastily written (on the beach) as a response to a Hackernews comment that galled me.

I must have hit a nerve because not only did the reaction to that post cause my blog to come crashing down, it made the top of Techmeme for almost 2 full days. Once the nice folks at WPEngine had my blog running on something more solid than my home server, that post had over 70,000 views.

I was trying to articulate that Windows Phone 7, while a really, really, good product, had entered an exceedingly complex multi-sided market where the parties responsible for SELLING it were not incented to do so.

Consumers do not buy things.  

Consumers are sold things.

Broad marketing, including advertising and grass-roots evangelism, have a huge impact on what consumers end up buying. I discuss this in my post on brands. Like it or not, the masses are very much influenced by what they are told via brands, brand marketing, and advertising.

In retail, the term assortment is used to describe how much of a product is available, in what varieties, and how prominently it is displayed. For example, a well-assorted potato chip product sits on an end cap near the store entry, with lots of inventory visible, in several sizes. A weakly assorted product can be found on the rear wall, with one variety visible, and is crowded out by competing products. Retailers don’t assort products because they like them; they assort products because the purveyors of those products pay more than the other guy to have them assorted.

A human salesperson, acting 1:1 with a customer is an extremely powerful force. In the mobile phone space, particularly in the US, phones are purchased from carriers. It is the retail sales people (RSPs in industry jargon) in the carriers’ stores who interact with the people who wish to buy a new phone. More often than not, the final decision on what phone to buy is made based on what the RSP is pushing.

It does not matter how good a product is; if it is not marketed, assorted, and SOLD, consumers will not buy it. They WILL buy the alternative they’ve heard more about, is highlighted in the store, and is being pushed on them by a salesperson. Remember Betamax?

We are on the cusp of the launch of Windows Phone 8. Much has changed since Windows Phone 7 launched in the fall of 2010:

  • Microsoft has released several upgrades to Windows Phone 7, fixing most of the shortcomings of that v1 product.
  • The Windows Phone Marketplace has grown to include over 100,000 applications and games.
  • Windows Phone 7 has gone global; now available basically worldwide including in China.
  • Microsoft inked a strategic deal with Nokia, giving Microsoft the deeply committed hardware partner it lacked at WP7 launch. Nokia has released WP7 devices that people seem to think are damn nice.
  • The Windows Phone user experience has moved to the forefront of industry consciousness by becoming the core of the much hyped Windows 8 “Metro” look & feel.
  • Apple has won a patent lawsuit with Samsung; potentially driving Samsung to tighten its ties with Microsoft and loosening its ties with Google.

While much has changed, some things have stayed the same:

  • The carriers still hate and distrust the OS providers in general and Microsoft in particular (I’m quite sure Verizon remembers Kin).
  • Apple’s products are easy to explain, well marketed and thus highly desired, and easy for RSPs to sell. Apple continues to have no problem getting carriers to do a great job of assorting iPhones.
  • Apple continues to provide an alternative channel for the iPhone with its Apple Stores.
  • The Android device manufacturers (with Google’s help) continue to pour money into media advertising and incenting carriers to assort Android phones.
  • Consumers like to feel like they have choice. Two strong options provide choice; it is not clear a third option is needed.
  • Most people (and that includes RSPs because they are people too) still have an iPhone or Android device in their pocket while out on a date.

Windows Phone 8 looks great. Its features and capabilities are far better than Windows Phone 7 (and you know I already think WP7 was a “superior” product). It has a well-designed look and feel that enables it to stand out. It has all the features the competition has and also some innovative capabilities they don’t.

The hardware we’ve seen so far looks compelling. Moving to the Windows NT kernel from the Windows CE kernel has enabled Microsoft and the device manufacturers to support more powerful hardware. Nokia, which did an amazing “v1” job with the original Lumia series, should be able to outdo even itself with these new designs. Samsung appears to have put at least a few people from the “A” team on the case with the ATIV S.

You can assume, as I do, that the WP8 devices will be fantastic. Or, you can assume I’m just a Microsoft shill and the WP8 devices are crap. Either way, at the end of the day the question is:

Will Windows Phone 8 devices sell in sufficiently large numbers to make Microsoft a strong force in the smartphone space and keep Nokia in business?

I don’t know.

I don’t know how much money Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, HTC, and the others are pouring into the carriers for co-marketing. I don’t know what sweet strategic deals Microsoft has negotiated with ATT, Verizon, Vodafone, and Telstra to get them to be incented to ensure these phones are well assorted in the carrier’s stores. I don’t know what kind of training and incentives are being given directly to RSPs.

And you don’t know either.

But I do know the way you can tell if it is working or not is to go to the carriers’ stores once WP8 phones are actually available and ask the RSPs what phone you should buy. Heck, even handicap them by saying “I hear Windows Phone is great. Help me pick one out.”

If they steer you to a WP8 device then the air is clear. The canary is happily chirping. Coal mining can continue. Sales will skyrocket.

If they steer you to an iPhone or Android device then I’m sorry, but that’s the equivalent of the canary lying feet up in the bottom of the cage.

Charlie Kindel is building a Seattle startup doing innovative things where space and time collide. He is active in the Seattle startup community as an angel, advisor, and mentor. Charlie was previously the GM for the Windows Phone 7 app platform at Microsoft. During his 21 years tenure at Microsoft, Charlie built a broad range of products. He started his first software company while in high school in 1983 and built some of the earliest shareware for Windows. He is passionate about customer focus, lean methods, going deep technically, soccer, and cars. Read his musings about startups, technology, and other random things on his blog and follow him on twitter.

Comments

  • Charlie

    What you failed to mention, astonishingly, last time and this time is that WP7 largely failed because IT WAS THREE YEARS LATE. How can you not mention and analyze this? Please address this or your credibility is lost.

    The software itself is amazing, and I use it every day. I prefer it to the iPhone I used to use. But its time to market was the biggest reason it is failing; if VZW and others had WP as an iPhone alternative they desperately needed and got in the form of Android in 2008 or even early 2009, it would be #1, Android #2, and iPhone #3.

    • http://ceklog.kindel.com/ Charlie Kindel

      No doubt coming from behind is a huge factor and I can’t dispute the point you are making. However, my post is not about Windows Phone “winning” or becoming even #2. It is about survival.

      Windows Phone is good enough that it is conceivable that it can be a strong #3 player in the market. It is not clear that it will ever be. This is my point.

      • Guest

        Being number three in a market of … well … three, isn’t exactly an accomplishment.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joshuadgrech Joshua Grech

        Hey Charlie, this is one of the best tech stories I’ve read in a long time. Nokia’s Lumia series is great. However, I find it odd that the recent launch focused on all these different features (which are all very good) but there was no mention of Xbox and no mention of business solutions around Exchange. Legacy is such a difficult thing to manage (I argue that Apple’s iPhone was a success because it really didn’t have much legacy at all – it’s desktop was, and is, miniscule and merging the iPod business into the phone business was pretty simple – whereas MS has to deal with vast arrays of government and business to support). However, can legacy be turned into a strength? If WP8 has rock solid secure Exchange support (the new blackberry if you will) then there would be a business case for WP8 over both iPhone and Android (both are being deployed in gov and business because of lack of alternatives, not because they are secure). And full Xbox integration is a no brainer … but they aren’t selling it like that (not enough it seems). Office 365 is great too – but where is it in the adverts?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=578453615 Kevin Dill

        Good enough isn’t good enough! I’m surprised no one has mentioned one of the most surprising things I learned as an iPhone user coming from the Windows development world… I COULD UPGRADE MY iPHONE TO THE LATEST OS WITHOUT ANY TROUBLE!!! Heck… you STILL can’t get that on a Windows phone! Maybe if Microsoft had some common sense, they might do better. But I’m not going to hold my breath!

    • guest

      Absolutely. Let’s recap:
      – It was three years late to market
      – It had terrible OEM support
      – There were few compelling phones available at launch
      – App availability was – and still is – a major concern
      – Existing WM users, which was quite a few, felt burned and betrayed
      – Microsoft generally, and Windows more specifically, already had tremendous brand baggage amongst consumers at that point (even worse now).
      – The name choice was therefore terrible
      – The marketing was MS’s usual, which is to say pathetic
      – Retailers had no incentive to push a product that in many ways wasn’t even competitive, far less the order of magnitude better that any product coming that late would have to be in order to have any chance at succeeding
      – The few people who actually bought one were treated to a complete clusterfk of a bug fix process, which resulted in extensive delays to get the numerous initial platform issues addressed and 3/4 of a year or more before the first feature upgrade roll out.
      From a future relevance perspective this was the most important launch MS ever faced and they completely blew it on every level. And while it’s sad because the product actually has some innovative features and potential, at some point you have to resign yourself to the fact that a company like MS, who has continually failed to rise to the occasion for more than a decade now, just doesn’t deserve to be a leader. Capitalism is all about creative destruction. MS was on the giving end of that for a long time. Now they’re on the receiving one. And deservedly so.

  • Marvin McKinley

    You can’t spell it out any better than he stated. He will be successful in business becuase he understands what business is about. Good R&D, good mfg. great marketing, results in happy people in his company and the customer that pays the bills.

  • Guest

    Thank you, Charlie. What I’ve noticed is that many of the anonymous men who soil our Internet are obsessed with the status quo. They own iPhone or Android devices and are very upset that another company would dare to compete. They are personally offended and they feel personally threatened when another platform is introduced regardless of its technical merits.

    Thank you for having developed Windows Phone 7 and 8. In a world where so many “smartphones” are remarkably stupid, I’m glad that at least one company is trying to make phones that work.

  • http://www.artsumo.com Naysawn Naderi

    Great post! I think you’re right that many people buy whatever is pushed on them. My parents proved the point when they bought an Android as suggested by the sales person, even though I had coached them through buying a Windows phone beforehand.

    While I agree that the sales people ultimately determine the sales, the iPhone when it was released definitely did not follow this trend. Rather, millions handed over their cash without a single sales rep convincing them to do so. I wonder if another phone manufacturer will ever release a phone so compelling that people will do the same.

    • http://ceklog.kindel.com/ Charlie Kindel

      “millions handed over their cash without a single sales rep convincing them to do so.”

      Huh? What makes you think that? Where do you think those first millions of iPhones were sold? Online? No, they were sold at ATT stores by ATT RSPs.

      • Forrest Corbett

        Eh, Charlie, how did those thousands of people who lined up, in some cases, days in advance, get “sold” iPhones by ATT reps? Those sales reps rode the wave, they didn’t create it.

        • http://ceklog.kindel.com/ Charlie Kindel

          Thousands != Millions.

          • Forrest Corbett

            I think you missed my point – that being that the sales/popularity/perception started well before the reps were added to the mix. The reps were a conduit, not a catalyst.

        • http://twitter.com/DaveMacMS Dave McLauchlan

          Early adopters != mainstream customers. Apple was/is phenomenal at creating buzz around their products that delight and excite the early adopters. I’d also argue they’ve been particularly adept at moving formerly “mainstream customers” into the “early adopters” bucket, but that’s a separate point.

          Through a combination of brilliant marketing and remarkable salesmanship/theater, Apple excited “the base” and had people lining up at launch.

          But their real success was in striking unbelievably favorable deals (for them) with carriers, who then turned around and massively invested in their sales channels (including RSPs). Carriers wanted the phone so badly, they agreed to unheard-of-at-the-time terms, and then had so much skin in the game, they over-invested to be sure they got a return on their investment.

          A huge part of that over-investment, was in their RSPs.

          • abugida

            Of course it had nothing to do with them creating the most influential device in a decade. Must have been the marketing, clearly.

          • Forrest Corbett

            Most of that is beside the point. You listed out many additional reasons why so many iPhones were sold, rather than the Charlie’s original point that the ATT reps who sold the phone are primarily responsible. If that were the case, all MSFT would have to do is hire those same reps.

      • kibbles

        sorry, Charlie – people like me SOUGHT and BOUGHT an iPhone because I knew first hand how badly all other phones were, including WM. your WP8 is a derivative of iOS, not WM.

    • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

      iPhone is a unique situation. I’d argue that Apple managed to build a strong direct-to-customer tie such that customers viewed themselves as buying from Apple first and foremost (even if they did get it from ATT). I know a lot of people who bought iPhones in spite of ATT not because of them. The carriers are in the driver’s seat with Android and Windows Phone (as you say). I think ultimately a reason they backed Android is because of how it restores them to their dominant position in the equation. And as you’re alluding, a reason they may be reticent on WP is they don’t want to be “Appled” again by anyone, even Microsoft.

      • matthewmaurice

        I’d argue that there’s no need to argue that point. You’re absolutely correct. It’s said that Apple’s insistence on maintaining control of the customer relationship was the deal-breaker with Verizon prior to the iPhone launch. Apple knows no one likes their mobile provider, just like no one likes their cable providers.

  • Brian

    As a former Microsoftie with years of channel experience, I am continuously amazed at the lack of support MS has provided to this channel. As you pointed out, no selection, no in-store signage, no RSP training, no incentive programs. What’s the point of all that money in the bank if not to use it to create a huge store presence! A very weak performance all in all and if they dont do a better job with the Surface, you have to question the long term viability of the company.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Olivier-Fontenelle/1519239615 Olivier Fontenelle

      I am currently in Beijing and had to go buy a feature phone for 4 months at China Mobile (largest carrier there).

      It seems to me that Windows Phone has a significant presence in China. I see turquoise Lumia’s everywhere and in the store itself, they have maybe 3 dedicated sales reps pushing Nokia phones specifically, decked out in cool t-shirts, standing behind an entire section of the store decorated for WP.

      I think Microsoft perfectly understands how to win, but I would say that the US carriers are “Microsoft-averse” and would rather push an Android or Apple product.

      • http://ceklog.kindel.com/ Charlie Kindel

        Olivier, I have not seen any hard data out of China. I wonder if anyone is tracking this? When you were in the stores do you see people making purchases?

        • guest

          There was talk back in May that WP had overtaken iOS in China. Not sure how reliable the source was but several people ran with the story (Google it). Haven’t seen anything more recent or definitive.

          • abugida

            I don’t know if those were from a reliable source. To be clear, Microsoft’s regional manager touted them, but where did he get them from? Not from the leading research houses. IDC and Gartner both had the iPhone around 18 % in the first quarter in China. Small wonder, since that was the launch quarter. In Q2 they had it at 10 or 11 %. Of Windows Phone there is no mention at all. They do however mention Nokia Symbian, at 6 or 7 %. Right now I believe that’s where the confusion came from. It’s Nokia, but it’s not Windows Phone.

  • Charles

    I have never walked into a Verizon Wireless Store and asked a sales person to tell me which phone I should buy. I have always had a phone I wanted to see or experience. Am I really that unique? I doubt it.

    • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

      I’m the same way, but I also inherently distrust sales people. And, I know I’m not typical.

    • http://twitter.com/DaveMacMS Dave McLauchlan

      In short, yes.

      Don’t make the mistake of confusing you and your friends with “Joe Consumer”. The fact that we’re all reading GeekWire already drops us in a very different bucket to the average guy walking off the street into an AT&T store.

      I think you’ll find that the vast majority of handset sales decisions on a nationally aggregated level, are made with the heavy influence of an RSP.

  • http://twitter.com/RichB93 Rich

    In the UK Windows Phone is almost nowhere to be seen. I’ve been into multiple phone shops and none of them have had Windows phones on display. Funnily enough, I was at a Three store once, and a salesperson was on the phone to a customer. He was using a Windows phone but he STILL recommended an iPhone to the customer who had to use their Exchange email account. Made me chuckle to say the least.

    • mark

      I ‘tested’ a sales person – gave them a price point below the iPhone and they pushed the HTC One V. I even asked about the Nokia Lumia. never asked me if I have an xbox/Hotmail/social network use/apps

    • Kizedek

      “The fact that Apple have amazing advertising allows them to compete with dozens of Android phone manufacturers”

      That is irrelevant if the RSP is trying to sell the consumer an Android phone. Apple gives no incentives for sales, Samsung and others most definitely do.

      Perhaps in this case the RSP was being refreshingly honest… the iPhone is in fact extremely easy to set up with an Exchange email account.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    I don’t know I agree with you. I think that your analysis, while good, minimizes the role of the consumer in a way that skews the argument in Windows Phone favor.

    Specifically, there are things about Windows Phone in a lot of buyers’ minds that will make a lot of them tell the salesperson “No, I don’t want that” even if the RSP tries to push the phone.

    Windows Phone still has a reputation for lacking major apps (I just saw a friend who can’t wait to ditch his Windows Phone for an iPhone complain about this on Facebook: a friend of his “helpfully” listed out a host of apps not available for Windows Phone). And Windows Phone is still so new and still so limited in numbers that it’s not clear it’s going to make it. Add to that the fact that consumers too remember the Kin. Microsoft has abandoned products and platforms many times in the past, leaving customers who bought into it high and dry. I think this last point is critical because the lack of apps would go away if enough people were on the platform. But people aren’t going to jump on the platform if they think it’s going to drop out from under them.

    I’ll be upfront: those reasons I outlined are reasons why I have no interest in buying a Windows Phone at this time. It may really be superior on an engineering level but that won’t do me any good if Nokia goes out of business in 6 months and then Microsoft drops WP for good. I’d have to buy a new phone without the carrier subsidy and that’s more than I’m willing to gamble on an unproven platform.

    • gerickson

      “Microsoft has abandoned products and platforms many times in the past, leaving customers who bought into it high and dry.”

      Mobile is way too important for Microsoft to just abandon. I believe they will willfully continue to operate at a loss with the hope that WP will eventually gain traction. Strategically speaking, I’m not sure if Microsoft is still relevant in a few years if they aren’t one of the big 3 in mobile, and I’m sure they know this.

      • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

        On the one hand I agree with you. But on the other hand if the numbers don’t improve sometime soon it becomes a question of how long they’ll throw good money after bad.

        • guest

          How many years and how much money have they thrown at far less strategic things like search, gaming, iptv, etc? Geriksen is right; mobile to too important.

          • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

            Mobile is important but I don’t think the world is going to give them infinite time if things don’t improve. If WP8 numbers aren’t appreciably better in 6 – 9 months, folks will start declaring the platform dead and there will be pressure to fold.

      • alex

        MS has already abandoned current Windows Phone customers! They announced
        that no existing Windows Phone hardware will be upgradable to Windows
        Phone 8.

        Of all the mistakes Microsoft has made, their biggest is
        that they DO abandon their platforms and technologies. Recklessly. The
        main exception to this is Win32.

        • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

          That’s a good point, though to be fair you have Android phones that can’t be upgraded too (I should know, I’ve got a Droid X2 that’s one year old and already out of date….thanks Motorola).

          But just look at the Kin. I feel bad for everyone who bought one of those. In my opinion, given how quickly they killed it, Microsoft should’ve done a buyback/upgrade program to restore confidence.

          • Walt French

            And it’s not too late for MS (or its buddy Nokia) to announce a $300 credit for any Nokia WP7, towards the unsubsidized price of a WP8-capable phone.

            It’d cost a few tens of millions of dollars, and be worth easily five times that in creating a stir for how MS looks after its customers.

            As it is now, Microsoft is taunting its customers, “we fooled you (screwed you over) twice already, wanna go for three? We’d feel real good if you do!”

          • guest

            Are you sure you’re an adult and not a five year old troll?

    • Mikerochip

      Some good points here.

      I think a lot of people who might be interested in WP are taking a wait-and-see attitude. No one wants to hitch their wagon to the platform until it gains more momentum. The best solution from an engineering perspective doesn’t always win.

      Also, I think many people associate Windows PHONE with Windows MOBILE. Did anyone have an experience with Windows Mobile that they would want to repeat?

      Honestly, I would have called the product something else. Not everything out of Microsoft needs the name “Windows” in it.

  • LonelyTraveler

    How many smart phone users know or care what operating system their phone has? Most consumers aren’t tech savvy and the OS is not really a decision point when most consumers buy a new phone – they probably think about “does it have a good camera? Can it play MP3s? Can I facebook/twitter on it? Does it have a long battery life? Does it meet my price point? Does it come in red/green/blue/pink” and so on, and not “Is it Windows? Is it Andriod? Is it iOS?”

    I recently did the above routine as a T-Mobile customer and ended up with 17 Android phones meeting my criteria, as opposed to 2 WP7 devices with boring specs. Not much of a contest.

    The iPhone is a somewhat different beast, because it is probably the only phone that customers ask for by name – but never for the Operating System.

    • matthewmaurice

      “The iPhone is a somewhat different beast, because it is probably the only phone that customers ask for by name – but never for the Operating System.”

      Well, that’s because they’re one and the same. All iOS phones are iPhones, and all iPhones run iOS. The only question for iPhone buyers is how much do you want to spend on it? $0, $99, $199, $299, $399? Brilliantly simple.

      Microsoft should just buy Nokia outright and do the same. Forget about licensing Windows Phone 8 to anyone else and make the Lumia brand their iPhone.

  • MarcSilverTriple

    Finland might be the perfect example to confirm the analysis, with growing market shares. Looks like people there are sold Nokia Windows Phones

  • guest

    Not only did the canary already die but the mine shaft collapsed, taking MS’s future with it. They’re left with no share to speak of and more importantly no viable business model for Windows Phone except Ballmer’s usual one: losing money and subsidizing it via Windows and Office. Only those cash cows are now drying up rapidly, in part due to what’s happened in smartphones and the bleed over to tablets, which makes that a tenuous option for the future.

    MS have few options left in mobile. They should probably just concentrate on being an application and service provider on Android and iOS. But Ballmer’s ego, not to mention their market cap, probably can’t survive an admission like that. So they’ll continue fighting a losing battle against two incumbents who are now far too strong for MS to make signfiicant inroads and against whom the company has had very little competitive success generally.

    Fire Ballmer. Fire the Board. Start over. Mobile is lost. Find what’s next and try to win that.

    • Guest

      Karthik! How’s the startup going?

  • Jeff

    One big factor you miss in your discussion on marketing–and the single biggest factor for me as a consumer–is that the brand association with Microsoft mobile is horrible. Microsoft has one of the biggest brands in the world. As such, it has an incredible amount of inertia to change the perception of that brand. Most people’s experience with Windows phones is not one they want to live again. Including me. Sure, tell me it’s different. Sure, tell me it won’t be a half-assed product with all the simple, elegant things Apple does to a UX. Once bitten, twice shy. I don’t buy it. And won’t buy it. Technologists–generally your early adopters–don’t think Microsoft is cool (even my Microsoft geek friends use iPhone or android phones.) And yet we’re expected to wake up one bright sunny morning and think “hey, forget everything bad that’s happened in the past, let’s listen to the new marketing!” That only happens in politics! MS should plan on many years of out spending, out engineering and out selling the competition before Windows mobile will crawl back to a competitive market share position.

    • Bangarang

      The fact that you keep calling it “Windows Mobile” is evidence of this. No matter how great Windows Phone is, everyone can’t help thinking of Windows Mobile. Internet Explorer has the same issue. IE9 and IE10 are huge steps forward, with IE9 on par with Chrome on many measures, but when people think of IE, all they can think of is the legacy of IE6. It will take many more years of innovation and engineering and plugging away before anyone associates IE with anything other than IE6.

      I actually cringe every time someone refers to my Lumia 900 as Windows Mobile. Because I know what they’re thinking. I don’t even bother trying to defend that it’s the best smartphone I’ve used in years. I just sort of shrug and move on. Because I know, the burden is on Microsoft to make them understand that Windows Phone is not Windows Mobile. The burden isn’t mine.

      • matthewmaurice

        You perfectly illustrate a big part of Microsoft’s problem. They’ve rebranded their mobile platform three times in what? Three years? Yes, With Windows 8 MS may finally herd their cats, but the reason they’re lagging in, another, market they basically created is that they seem incapable of a cohesive message.

        • guest

          Lack of a cohesive message is a part of it. But not all or even most. WM wasn’t going to compete against iOS even if you had the most cohesive message in the world. MS has repeated failed in markets it helped pioneer because it failed to maintain focus on the customer, failed to keep innovating, was arrogant, chronically underestimated the competition, and then failed to respond quickly when it got passed by others.

  • Scott Lepsch

    While you state,
    “the Windows Phone Marketplace has grown to include over 100,000 applications and games,” does it matter? I was under the impression that Windows Phone 8 is using the same basic OS as Windows 8, thus those apps will not be compatible without a rewrite.

    • maeh2k

      Windws Phone 7 apps will work on Windows Phone 8. (just not the other way around)

      Also, Windows Phone 8 development is not quite the same as Windows 8 development. There are parts of both that overlap, but there are also differences.

  • Guest

    The take off point for Microsoft is where people have no choice but to buy a Windows phone. Then the consumer will specify his/her intention. To me this intention might be expressed when Intel processors go 22nm and legacy MS software can be supported. Then the devices will be bought as accessories than stand alone devices. If the Microsoft Surface takes off then I feel Windows phones will not be far behind as synergy will come into it but the great unifying factor is the engineering which is the NT kernel which might support the critical factor of legacy/sharing among devices. This is going to make the device acquisition a necessity than a frivolity.Thereon I feel we might start to see that big push forward for Windows phones.

    • abugida

      If you look at the sales trends it’s clear that Windows has no leverage over Android or iOS. It’s more the other way around. Both mobile OSs are more coveted by customers worldwide, and Android is already outselling Windows now, with iOS almost there.

      • mostlyfreeideas

        Umm, iOS far outsells Windows both US domestic and worldwide. Windows has somewhere around 2-3% of sales. Actually, Windows is just about to pass RIM. Not because Windows is succeeding but because RIM continues to fall.

        • abugida

          I’m sure you mean Windows Phone, but you keep saying “Windows”. I was actually talking about Windows, as in the eminent desktop OS that’s selling 80 million copies per quarter.

  • http://scobleizer.com Scobleizer

    I used to work at Microsoft in 2003 through 2006. I also worked much of the 1980s at consumer electronics stores.

    I disagree somewhat with you. What I learned on retail store counters is that, yes, you can sell people on things but they have one overriding need: not to appear an idiot to their friends.

    Windows Phone doesn’t have the best apps. Doesn’t have industry support. Doesn’t have support at work or at home. And buying one makes you appear to be an idiot.

    Microsoft MUST change that dynamic. But it hasn’t. When I spoke at NY and SF startup incubators lately (Betaworks and Rocketspace) not a SINGLE developer was excited by Windows Phone. Not a single one. Word gets around that developers are staying away and consumers assume that betting on such a platform might make them appear idiotic.

    Remember the refrain “no one got fired for buying IBM?” I do. Microsoft figured out how to change that to “no one got fired for buying Windows.” But today only Android and iOS are “safe” as platforms and Microsoft MUST change that if it wants to end up with more than the 3.5% marketshare it has today in smartphones.

    • http://twitter.com/dgaust dg

      But Robert, every time you post you prove you’re an idiot.

    • guest

      You had the basis for a decent point there. Too bad you layered on so many generalizations, inaccuracies, and subjective opinion stated as facts.

  • DurianKid

    The take off point for Microsoft is where people have no choice but to buy a Windows phone. Then the consumer will specify his/her intention. To me this intention might be expressed when Intel processors go 22nm and legacy MS software can be supported. Then the devices will be bought as accessories than stand alone devices. If the Microsoft Surface takes off then I feel Windows phones will not be far behind as synergy will come into it but the great unifying factor is the engineering which is the NT kernel which might support the critical factor of legacy/sharing among devices. This is going to make the device acquisition a necessity than a frivolity.Thereon I feel we might start to see that big push forward for Windows phones.

  • DurianKid

    My point is that say you buy a server then your client devices are going to be inevitably those that are compatible with your server. If one then extrapolates that the mail exchange that is run on the server is compatible with the phone and the IT department runs the rules from the server you get the mobile devices proliferating the business environment. Consumer choices then start to be made from a point of familiarity with the hardware and software. This is the critical phase where I believe many people seem to have bypassed in these discussions. We have looked at consumer choices without taking into account how businesses and IT departments who have more savvy and knowledgeable buyers are going to shape the consumer space thus influencing buyers. After all isn’t this familiarity how windows started from work and moved to the home??

    • matthewmaurice

      “businesses and IT departments who have more savvy and knowledgeable buyers are going to shape the consumer space thus influencing buyers.”The BYOD phenomenon pretty much shows that to be going the opposite direction. There are a lot of companies where the only Apple products they use are iPhones and the only place they have NO Microsoft presence is in Smartphones.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=578453615 Kevin Dill

      Unfortunately, Microsoft failed here as well. Within my old company, when iPhones became available as an option, I talked with our phone support person. He told me then that the (new) iPhone talked with Exchange better than the Windows Mobile phones… and that was when WinMobile was king! MS screwed up because they took the customer for granted while Apple didn’t. They provided (and still do) a product that people desired rather than just something that satisfied their needs. And I’m sorry, but the live tiles look hideous to me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Armstrong/653075533 Tommy Armstrong

    I think he is pretty much on target
    here. Although my experience was not in electronics but in something quite
    different, the house paint industry; there is actually a lot of similarity. We
    were a small manufacturer and honestly produced the best product in the world
    at that time. In fact we were the first company in the USA to actually mfg. and
    market acrylic house paint-interior and exterior. No shortcuts in the formulation.
    A water based paint used outside was almost heresy in the age of lead and oil.
    Acrylic was clearly the superior way to go as is now born out now even 50 years
    later. But just having a better product is not enough–you have to sell that
    product. My boss did indeed build a very good business in a localized market
    for he had salesmen on the counter that knew what they were talking about and
    felt confident and proud of what they were selling. Hell it took me a year or
    so just to train someone to match colors and understand what he was selling and
    why. Get them in the store and I would convince them what they needed to buy,
    what they needed to do, and WHY they were making the right choice on a
    “no-name” but superior product. When buying a complex product such as
    paint and cell phones-and yes they are complex products, a normal customer is
    really in many ways at the mercy of the man behind the counter. And the sad
    part is that those in the cell phone stores (and in most big box paint stores
    also) are sadly lacking in knowledge or impartiality and the goal is not to
    provide the customer with the best experience and the best product, but to
    close the sale with the least amount of energy. This is indeed the huge
    obstacle for Windows Phone. And their ultimate survival may very well lie in
    opening up their own outlets or having a Windows Phone guy in each major store.
    I really believe after using it for more than a year it is the Acrylic of cell
    phones. But in this market place, you cannot simply put a “no-name”
    out there and expect it to sell without passionate advocates–not on the blogs
    but on the sales floor. And slick does not get it on a sales floor–because
    even the dumbest of people can see through slick. Engineers and executives make
    lousy salesmen. Engineers because they cannot relate to the customers, and
    executives who look at them as numbers on a spreadsheet. Marketing of a complex
    product may begin on TV but it ends in the store. All the glitzy advertising in
    the world will not convince most people to go against what they think is a
    personal recommendation from someone who instills trust and competence.

  • http://twitter.com/freelock John Locke

    I’m surprised nobody has brought up the Cluetrain Manifesto. In short, if you think consumers will buy whatever somebody sells them, you’re horribly underestimating them, at your own peril.

    Apple has a strong brand because they sell up to their customers. Microsoft has a crappy brand because, if your post is any indication, they sell down to them… “Oh, it’s too complicated for you to figure out” instead of “You’ve got better things to do than waste time on the details, let us do it for you.” Subtle but powerful difference.

    • kibbles

      agreed – people like me sought out and Bought an iPhone because I knew first hand how crappy all other phone experiences were, including Windows Mobile. the phrase “shut up and take my money” applies.

      WP8 is a direct descendant of iOS, not WM.

      • Julio Saenz


        WP8 is a direct descendant of iOS, not WM. ”
        YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID

        • kibbles

          i dont think so. iOS was the shot fired across the bow, that woke up the industry and forced them to admit their version of reality sucked. so they learned from iOS and built answers to it. thus WP7 and 8, Android, Palm OS, etc..

          doesnt mean they arent good OSes today. just that they owe their reason for existing to iOS.

        • http://www.facebook.com/carlos.osuna.roffe Carlos Osuna-Roffe

          He means that Microsoft waited for Apple to conclude the overall experience with iPhone to out maneuver them with WP7.

          The problem was WP7 was an excellent UI on top of a very crappy OS (I know, I’ve worked several years with Windows Embedded Compact Symbol/Motorla Scanners).

          WP8 is what the iPhone was at its start. An excellent UI on top of an excellent OS. In the middle stands the full Quartz Suite which enables the Retina Display.

          The problem’s with WP8 is two fold.
          1) Nobody has tested the NT kernel on ARM for a long period of time. Worse yet, this is not the NT kernel, but the 6.x one, which means new device drivers and some user space changes. Drivers where tested as cross platform on the Alpha, PowerPC days. No one knows the failure rate of these babies on the actual workplace. Windows Embedded had a track record on ARM which was remarkable.

          2) WP8 essentially kills WP8, rather than complements it. It similar to iPhone 4 killing iPhone 3GS. Rather Apple used iOS 4.3 as the basis for iPad and not iOS 5 which had no track record. Same applies here.

          With that said the argument is completely valid.

  • maeh2k

    I completely agree with the point that consumers are sold things. Unfortunately, Apple, Samsung and the carriers have done a pretty great job selling their products.

    I have tried ‘selling’ Windows Phones to relatives who were in the market for a new phone, but I didn’t stand a chance, even though Windows Phone would have been a great choice for them.

    It really would have been a great choice since most of these people didn’t need hundreds of thousands of apps, but mostly needed an actual phone, maybe a handful of useful apps, navigation, and a camera. So I recommended the Lumia devices. The live tiles, pinnable contacts, Nokia Drive, decent camera with camera button. In addition, the Lumias were also available at attractive price points (compared to the more desirable Android phones and the iPhone).

    The reasons I failed mostly came down to the insane mindshare the iPhone and the Galaxy line have at the moment and also because a lot of the opinion shapers like reviewers don’t have the same needs from a phone as your typical consumer.

    Also, no one seemed to value my opinion very much no matter how well informed I was about the current smartphone landscape :)

    What follows is an anecdotal account of my failures:

    – my sister was coming off an Android phone and just didn’t like the flat look of the tiles nor the design of the Lumias. In addition, she thought the smileys looked better in the Android version of WhatsApp than on the Windows Phone version. (in the end the Facebook integration would have been better for her…)

    – my aunt and uncle — both first-time smartphone buyers — had already nearly made up their minds before I even got to them.

    My aunt — without ever having used any of the operating systems — already had the idea that somehow the iPhone was best. At first she even thought that only the iPhone had games and was surprised that there were games on the Windows Phone I showed to her. The fact that the Lumia 800 was basically half the price didn’t convince her either.

    My uncle had looked at some website with phone reviews and was eyeing the Galaxy S2. On these sites Windows Phone tends to do really badly, as reviewers usually have different expectations from their phones than people who’ve only used feature phones. Windows Phone 7 always loses a couple of points for slower hardware, ‘only’ 100k apps, IE.

    He mostly needs the actual phone part. None of these points would have made any difference to him.

    Alas, Windows Phones were not present in the ‘top’ list, not recommended on the site.

    – a friend of my father asked me for advice. He didn’t know the first thing about smart phones. “Nokia still makes phones?”. Seemed to think that Nokia/Microsoft devices weren’t really the ones to get these days. Ended up choosing a Galaxy S Plus of all phones.

    At least for my mother I got to choose the phone, so she does have a Windows Phone. I have already decided that her next one will come from Nokia :)

    • http://twitter.com/PeterDeep Peter Deep

      Sounds like you want to decide what’s best for these people – and for some reason it HAS to be a Windows phone – rather than letting them decide. You had already decided that Nokia phones with Windows were the best choice for all these people (and all the world I gather). You got to make the decision for your mother and seem very proud of that. She probably let you get your way and doesn’t even like her phone. Some son won’t even let his mother choose her own phone. I am more proud of your other relatives who had the strength to stand up to your Windows phone tunnel vision bullying.

      • maeh2k

        tldr version:
        You are reading too much into this. They asked for my opinion, I gave them my advice and informed them, and then I let them decide (obviously, otherwise they would have bought different phones…).

        long version:
        I don’t “decide what’s best”, but unlike these people (who had never used a smart phone) I — being well informed — do have an opinion what would be best for them. Why wouldn’t I give my advice based on my opinion? Especially if I’m asked for it and knowing. I’m certain that e.g. my aunt would be just as happy with a 300 Euro Lumia as with a 600 Euro iPhone 4s, which, in my opinion, would have made the Lumia the better choice.

        As for “letting them decide”, I’ll go back to: people are sold things. They did not extensively try out all the different operating systems (or Android customizations) to make up their minds. They are sold things by brands, ads, sales people. Had I not told them about it, they wouldn’t have even known that Windows Phone existed.

        To give you an idea how I wanted to ‘”bully” people into Windows Phone: I put in the most effort with my aunt and uncle: I showed them my phone for five minutes and later sent them an email with information about the Lumia phones including a video review and a Windows Phone OS overview (no idea if they watched any of the videos). That’s it.
        As for my sister, I accompanied her to the store, showed her the Lumia 800 (demonstrating it’s deep Facebook integration) and then, after she decided that she didn’t want that one, I guided her to the Galaxy Nexus, which was a great choice at a really great price. Otherwise she would have eyed the Galaxy S2, which at that time was actually more expensive than the Galaxy Nexus. I suspect you are okay with me “bullying” her into that one, right?

        Also, how did you get the idea that I consider WP the best choice for all the world? I think it’s the best choice for lots of people (including me) and I would like it to succeed as a 3rd ecosystem. I would not recommend it to people with certain app needs and I do not recommend it to my fellow CS students, for whom Android with all the ROMs is often the best choice.
        But I do really do think that it’s the best option for a lot of first-time smartphone buyers, who might not need the most expensive phone with the most apps. Windows Phone really gets the basics right.

        As for my mother, who didn’t even know she wanted a smart phone and was considering a Samsung Wave (bada OS) just from looking at it and because of the Samsung brand, she likes her phone just fine. She uses it mostly as a phone, too, and has lots of contacts pinned to the start screen, uses WhatsApp (is it on Bada yet? ), can intuitively access photos I have shared on SkyDrive.

        • Kizedek

          “I completely agree with the point that consumers are sold things. Unfortunately, Apple, Samsung and the carriers have done a pretty great job selling their products.”

          I can’t speak for Samsung, but perhaps there is a good reason that Apple has done a pretty great job at selling their products, and why they have such a large mindshare.

          That reason would have to do with the facts that 1) you can indeed extensively try out, nay, you are encouraged to extensively try out the OS at an Apple Store; and 2) the customer satisfaction ratings for the iPhone is extremely high, higher than for any other phone or brand.

          Consumers aren’t completely stupid, they know these things. It’s really other iPhone users that do the selling, and they do that by reluctantly letting someone play with their phone for five minutes.

          • maeh2k

            1) Exactly. They are doing a great job selling their products, have an extremely desirable brand and had a significant first-mover advantage.

            2) Windows Phone does pretty well in those surveys too. In some it even comes out ahead. Here’s the newest one I could quickly find: http://www.neowin.net/news/windows-phone-tops-in-user-satisfaction
            Also, Windows Phone does great in the top-ranked phones on amazon.com (as in reviews, not sales).

            Windows Phone is a quality product and unfortunately consumers don’t know it.

  • guest

    Don’t see any personal accountability there. After the embarrassing failure of Windows Mobile, this was supposed to be MS’s hand-picked dream team with direct oversight from Ballmer. Kindel was an important part of it. They took a lot of time and spent a lot of money. The result? They brought a pretty but half-finished rubber knife to a machine gun fight. The result was unsurprising. How about a few insights into how that transpired? Did it occur to any of the dream team members, including Charlie, that a product that showed innovation in some ways but major deficiencies in every other wasn’t going to be sufficient to break back in? Did anyone dare voice that opinion, or in true MS fashion just keep their mouth shut? Or did everyone realize it, sell out, and agree to tout WP7 as MS’s answer to iOS and Android while in reality only using it as a placeholder until WP8 came along?

  • http://twitter.com/leicaman leicaman

    Clearly this is the best thing Microsoft has done in years. But the recent reviews of Windows 8, and how unfinished that mess is on tablets shows Microsoft does not get it. You can have a vast checklist of geek-lust-inducing proportions, and if it doesn’t work well, and people don’t evangelize it for you, it’s the end of the road.

    As for the salespeople? Every time I walk into a Verizon store I hear them bad-mouthing the iPhone and trying to steer people to Android. And yet, iPhones sell pretty darn well. I don’t think it’s as simple as you’re saying.

    But good luck to Microsoft. I hope they actually have one success in this decade. Because everything else is looking old and tired and too late.

  • http://twitter.com/Jezzer_UK Jeremy Chappell

    Ohh, I think you missed a couple of things. Firstly smartphones are more connected beasts than you’ve alluded to. So if my buddies are using iOS or Android there is a network effect that might make me do the same – this counts against Microsoft (I know – they’re on the wrong side of this, amazing).

    But also WP7 has been “killed” by WP8, WP8 isn’t an “upgrade”. Now I don’t know if “normal” consumers will get this – but if they do, it’ll be significant. Essentially WP7 is “Kin” all over again.

    I also think how Windows 8 and Windows RT are received could make a difference, Microsoft need to seem relevant (they are, but that’s not what most consumers believe). If Windows 8 and Windows RT are seen as successes (not actually be successes – that’s assured, by virtue of the fact new PCs will have Windows 8 preinstalled) this will help the Microsoft/Windows brand, and hence help WP8.

    What is undeniable is the UI is a fresh take on “touch” and offers something different to Apple, that actually has real design sensibility of its own. For this alone, I hope it does well enough to survive long term.

    That an Nokia can make some really lovely hardware.

    But it’s going to be tough.

  • Stephen

    I don’t understand why Microsoft hasn’t tried to give some of these phones away at their TechEd conferences. Nearly all of those people would have had an Android or iPhone in their pocket, but if given a phone would probably given it a fair review, and come away with a “that’s actually pretty good” impression. And those people are influencers – either developers of software, or IT admins who can influence corporate phones and the like.

  • Walt French

    Charlie wrote, “It does not matter how good a product is; if it is not marketed, assorted, and SOLD, consumers will not buy it.”

    Lots of the discussion here is about the selling part of your comment. It’s fair to note that marketing is the whole gamut of awareness; interest (maybe, excitement); branding; information about availability; and knowing what level of service comes with the device. (At IBM, they once claimed Quality Control was a marketing function. Maybe Apple still believes that.)

    When people say Apple is good at marketing, I think they mostly mean “Steve Jobs was a Rasputin,” when in fact, all the points are strengths of Apple. And as many others here have commented, sometimes awful weaknesses of Microsoft. The WP7 went thru what — 6 months? — speculation about whether it’d be upgradable to WP8. Customers had no idea whether they should buy or wait — until Microsoft was forced to admit they were selling phones at full price that would quickly be EOL’d.

    Microsoft has done a consistent, near-flawless job at letting potential consumer-electronics customers know how likely a consumer’s Microsoft purchase will be obsoleted, orphaned or downright stabbed in the cradle (Plays4Sure, Zune, Kin, WP7).

    Oddly, from the few quips I’ve heard, Nokia salespeople have gotten away with just being worried that the product gets out the door to be sold. I guess their engineering, manufacturing and distribution must really have been that much better than their competitors’.

    So maybe Nokia has an institutional blind spot for how badly Microsoft has fouled its own nest. But I can imagine almost no amount of RSP spiffs or BOGO offers that’ll counteract the biggest disaster of marketing that I can think of.

    • guest

      Why did you omit Xbox, Kinect, their mice and keyboards? Didn’t fit the meme?

      • Walt French

        I know a LOT of gamers LOVE their XBox and Kinect. Yes, Microsoft has stuck with it and refined it.

        I also know lots of kudos for the hardware engineering on their Zune and WP devices.

        I think Microsoft’s brand ID is almost all in Windows, which is being abandoned as a consumer product. US PC sales are down; the share of them to consumers, more so, even as half of all Americans have put a phone in their pocket, and tablet sales are rocketing.

        So I think their successes are perceived in their past, while OTHER firms build the successes in new markets. Mice, keyboards; yeah, I used to buy & use ‘em. They’re just fine but they’re exceptionally low-visibility. The ultra-cheapo Dell mouse/kbd I use all day get the job done. Gold plating not needed.

        XBox/Kinect are fine/newish, but gaming has undergone a sea change: in just the last couple of years apps have gone from zero to bigger than all console sales together. This is kinda bad luck for Microsoft, which cumulatively hasn’t yet made money on a business that they did the Right Thing on. Hard for me to see the fun of a Kinect communicating a trusted partner for consumers, just as Mountain Dew won’t ever make it in baby formula.

        I wasn’t trying to say that Microsoft is a TOTAL LUZR firm—that’s obviously false—but sharing my impression of the balance of perceptions. Especially phones are a terribly complex product and for Microsoft to be a no-brainer buy, they’ll need to make people comfortable in a way that, on balance, I just don’t see them putting in the years of groundwork.

      • kibbles

        mice & keyboards? theres no upgradability of ecosystem involved, get real.

        xbox is their lone hardware/ecosystem hit. but even those arent upgradable.

        • Ryan Parrish

          What are you talking about? They’ve already upgraded the software on the Xbox 360 31 times in 7 years, seems pretty upgradeable to me.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterDeep Peter Deep

    So many people have been burned so many times by Microsoft. I would think getting them to buy anything Microsoft would be a hard sell – even for XBox fans. People’s main interaction with Microsoft is Windows and Office. For many people, those are most commonly associated with work. And though many people use Windows and Office, it’s usually not by choice because there is not a lot of choice in desktop computing. You’re going to have to look really hard to find someone who thinks, “I love Windows and Office so much, I can’t wait to get a Windows phone too.” Nope. Sorry. Regardless of how good or bad a Windows Phone is, I think most people who choose something, anything, that’s NOT Windows, strictly as a knee-jerk reaction.

  • RobDK

    I for one hope Microsoft fails massively with WP8. Two decades of corrupt business practice and shoddy, overpriced software, this company needs to die. quickly. And I hope the transition to mobile computing does it!

  • Michel

    ‘customers are sold things’

    I’m sure you mean well, but it seems rather typical for and ex-Microsoftie to be that condescending towards customers. After all, the whole Microsoft empire was built on spreading FUD and forcing crappy products on clueless IT managers.

    Customers are actively choosing iPhones today, despite being steered away by vendors towards Android and IT managers on their jobs still clinging to Outlook 2003.

    • kibbles

      bingo.

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

      In general, however, he is 100% correct. Most purchases, that are beyond staples, people are sold a product. If this was not true, there would be no sales people in any store. Just cashiers.

      • Fabrice

        I don;t know about you but I don’t remember the last time I was in a store and had a sales person truly “sell” me something (vs speeding up my purchase or cashing it in) at…any grocery store? Best Buy? Home Depot? Costco? REI? Staples? Barnes and Nobles? Ikea? Apple? Macy’s? Target? Crate and Barrel?

        Ever shop on Amazon?

        Today sales people add value and exist (survive) where you lack expertise (Tiffany’s), where they want to sell you add-on products (Car dealership) or where they are a “barrier” to getting your product to work (Mobile carriers) and are incented to upsell you to something more than what you cared for. Apple disrupted that model when it allowed us to buy an iPhone (online or in-store) and activate it through iTunes.

      • http://www.facebook.com/spike.mclarty Spike McLarty

        @Steven – Of course he’s not 100% correct. @Fabrice – Exactly. Where are the sales people at Amazon? For that matter, walk into a Staples or Fry’s and watch for a while. The question isn’t whether he’s completely right (not plausible) or completely wrong (also not plausible) but – to what extent is he right about the smart phone market? And frankly, the anecdotes of a bunch of geeks like us are not ‘data’.

  • jnawrocki

    I was in a Verizon store last week and inquired about a windows phone. The clerk told me that they sell windows phones but that the phone had to be special ordered.
    Verizon is not allowed to stock windows phones in the store. It is hard to sell something you can’t show.

  • abugida

    So just a few months ago AT&T said that the Lumia 900 launch was their biggest effort ever since the original iPhone. I don’t remember the budget, but it was over $100 million. Really, what more can you ask for in carrier support?

  • Kwazai

    “THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT”- ANONYMOUS QUOTE FROM AN IPHONE USER

  • none

    Before WP7 phones were released to the market, I visited a Verizon Wireless store to inquire about when the phones would be made available, only to be verbally assaulted by the Verizon store employee. He asked me why I would ever want one, describing it as junk. It was very clear that he knew nothing about the WP7 OS or the hardware it would be running on. How can Microsoft ever expect to sell these phones if the customer is being steered away from them by the carriers?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001321477521 Corey Mitchell

    I agree that the retail market is weak for Windows Phone. I walked into an AT&T store and wanted to purchase a Windows Phone and they told me “We don’t sell those here. Wouldn’t you rather have an Android Phone?”

  • Mursik

    Poor Microsoft, other companies “sell” products to the consumers!

    A human salesperson, acting 1:1 with a customer is NOT an extremely powerful force.
    *Trying to sell me things 1:1 is an invitation for verbal abuse*

    People are NOT THAT STUPID!
    Any normal person researches their purchases on the web before buying; they don’t just show up at the store and ask “what do you have to sell me” !!!

    If that’s Microsoft’s view – no wonder you are doing to badly.

    • maeh2k

      The selling here is not limited to 1:1 interaction with a salesperson. That’s merely the ‘canary’ to gauge the support the OS gets from carriers and OEMs.

      The selling starts way before you set foot in a store. I quote: “Broad marketing, including advertising and grass-roots evangelism, have a huge impact on what consumers end up buying.”

  • mostlyfreeideas

    I suggest that any company that takes a “consumers are sold things” approach will ultimately fail because of the utter lack of respect for a consumer that this view displays. In the smartphone space, you may have a large number of new consumers who aren’t completely savvy about their options but they aren’t completely ignorant either. I think it’s similar to a car purchase – one that is equally emotional as it is subjective. You might be steered towards particular models / devices by a salesperson, but you’re only going to make a final selection if you believe it matches what you want.

  • Anonymous

    Just a note: Your point about phones being sold is valid, however you fail to connect with your own thoughts with regard to the Kin and Verizon. Verizon killed the Kin with its policies and plan pricing, as well as all of the soft issues you mention in your article. To wit:
    I went into a Verizon store on launch weekend specifically to buy a Kin.
    1. It was very badly “assorted” – tucked in a back corner
    2. The sales force actively discouraged its purchase
    3. On escalation, the manager of the store ultimately “let me buy one” – he certainly didn’t “sell” it either, as he kept telling me how horrible it was compared to virtually anything else in the store.

  • synthmeister

    What incentive do the various parties have–telcos, developers, OEMs and RSPs?

    Telcos only incentive seems to be that they want to counter their dependence on iPhones, yet without the iPhone they lose subscribers.
    Developers incentive is which platform is making the most money right now. Apple app revenues are astonishing compared to Android or WinMo.
    OEMs seem smitten with “free” Android or rolling their own OS. WinMo is just one option with no compelling reason behind it.
    RSPs–unless somebody starts giving them bonuses, they will sell whatever they like.

    Apple needed a telco and AT&T needed to take customers from Verizon. WinMo doesn’t really have much leverage here. The ongoing patent wars could help them some, but I think Android will simply work around the patents from now on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kippow Kipp Woodard

    Using Windows 8 release on my Acer W500 tablet has made me VERY interested in the ATIV S. I just bought a Galaxy S III, but I find Windows 8 to be the best OS for mobile devices. I’ve used iOS and Android for years, but this newcomer has done it better.

  • Bill Sorensen

    When I bought my WP7 (and specifically asked for one), the salesperson asked in a puzzled voice, “Why do you want a Windows phone?”

  • AgPman

    I think the best and easiest marketing push they can do is to start by dropping windows from the name! MS Metro phone or similar. Microsoft have this obession with including Windows in the name….

  • AgPman

    Start by dropping Windows from the name, call it MS metro phone or similar. Users dont care (for the most part) what os is under the hood.

  • GeorgeS

    “Apple continues to have no problem getting carriers to do a great job of assorting iPhones.”

    Bull. Go to almost any phone dealer–try Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc. Now, try to FIND the iPhones. Many won’t even have them on display, though they may have a poster. There are lots of reports of salespeople trying to persuade customers to NOT buy an iPhone, to buy an Android phone, instead. (That happened to me last week.) i’ve heard salespeople tell lies–one lied to me.

  • ias

    How about if I assume that you are still a Microsoft shill; as is evidenced by your attitude toward customers (you know, that mindless undifferentiated mass that exists to be sold things), and that I have no evidence one way or another about the Windows 8 phone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Better-Failling/100003009960327 Better Failling

    “Consumers do not buy things.
    Consumers are sold things.”

    Unless we don’t turn this around we are fucked.
    I don’t side with Microsoft, mind you, what is described in this article is the very dark side of consumerism, the actual disenfranchisement of the ‘consumer’.
    In other terms this is about creating a virtual reality that is growing more and more distanced from the real one.

    Some of the people reacting to this said that ‘customers are not that stupid’.
    WRONG.
    This is not about stupidity, it’s more about laziness than anything else.

  • BillJobs

    Iphone 5 was WAYY below expectations.. No wireless charging, No NFC, New connector(non Micros USB), Lumia 920 has higher pixel density (332 vs 326), better resolution (1280×768 versus, 1136×340), Higher 3G talk time, better camera 9.7 versus 9MP.. and so much more crisp..
    Disappointed with Apple.. Looking fwd to Lumia 920

  • http://simplifilm.com/ Chris Johnson

    Shoulda been Xbox phone.

Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.
Community ManagerBonneville Seattle
Senior UX DesignerJulep Beauty, Inc.