Oh, Microsoft. You do find yourself in a bit of a pickle don’t you? You find yourself in an uncontested third place in the mobile computing space, and instead of taking the opportunity to establish your third place beachhead, you find yourself with a competitor fast approaching, while you’re still setting up camp.
As Blackberry, once the crown jewel of the mobile computing space, prepares to launch its new operating system, they no doubt have Microsoft firmly in their crosshairs. Even now you can hear the Canadian firm humming along with LL Cool J – “Don’t call it a comeback.”
What Microsoft needs to do to remain relevant in the mobile market is attain a firm third place position. Reinforce their proverbial base of operations before launching their attacks against the Fruits and the Bots. A ten percent market share should be their goal. It’s not impossible, but some things will need to change.
Depending on whose numbers you read, Microsoft finds itself with roughly a 1.5 – 2.5% market share today. In other words, it’s nothing to write home about. They will need to increase their market share almost 10 times to be taken as a solid contender. Spearheaded by Nokia and HTC, Windows Phone has failed to gain as much traction as Microsoft would like. Granted in their environment, it’s much more a marathon than a sprint, but progress needs to be made consistently.
Don’t get me wrong. Microsoft has made some right moves in marketing it’s little OS that could. Gwen Stefani and Will Arnett are both very capable and very well-known spokespeople for the product. One can scarcely commit a crime in Honolulu without Steve McGarret and Danno whipping out the Surface and uploading crucial evidence to their Skydrive. But there has to be more.
There is very little you can do on an iPhone or Android phone that you can’t do on a Windows Phone. But, there’s also pretty much nothing you can do on a Windows Phone that you can’t do on an iPhone or Android phone. So the public asks themselves – Why? Why should I throw down my hard earned bucks and two years of my mobile life into a product that isn’t more special than the established leaders that my friends, coworkers, family and dog have been using for years?
One benefit that Microsoft has yet to tap into is the similarity in the overall user experience between its new computer operating system, and its mobile operating system. This is of course a double edged sword considering the new computer operating system user interface is the main thing that has irritated/confused users around the world. But, once people learn that Windows 8 and the Modern-not-Metro interface is here to stay, the consistency between platforms can be a great benefit. “Want to run an app on Windows 8? Tap a tile. Want to run the same app of Windows Phone? Hey! What do you know? Tap a tile.” This is a unique advantage over other operating systems, one which Microsoft should capitalize on.
Microsoft should take advantage of the fact that around 85% of the computing world sits at a computer with their operating system. Where’s the integration? Why do I need to install Zune – ZUNE people – to get stuff to sync from my Windows computer to my Windows Phone? Once I connect my Windows Phone to my wireless network, all my music from my “My Music” folder should sync automatically. All my photos that I took with my Epic Lumia-cam should sync to my “My Pictures” folder.
Of course, I’m just spit-balling ideas here. I’m sure there are programmers and developers that are screaming “Youcan’tdothatyoumoron!” at their monitors and scaring their poor fish.
While we’re on the topic of “everyone has a Windows computer”, where’s the bundling? Buy a Windows Phone, get a free Windows 8 upgrade. Use your scale (webOS-loving readers all just groaned). Give them a reason to go buy a Windows Phone and Windows 8 – two products whose relatively soft launches could use a nice kick in the pants.
Most importantly, Microsoft needs to point all this out to the users out there. You can have the best, most intuitive operating system on the planet, but if you hire the borg-queen to talk about jugglers, it won’t matter. Microsoft needs to show their users why it’s unique. They made some progress with their quick-launch camera commercials with the skydivers. Good for them. But a lot of people don’t skydive, nor do they have important evidence to upload to Grace Park.
Microsoft’s “Smoked by Windows Phone” contests were great for what they were – showing you how fast one could accomplish the most common tasks. But advertising of the contest was practically non-existent. It’s one thing to have a promotional scheme – it’s another to actually let people know about it.
So many companies these days have these great services that only industry experts and geeks know about. There’s no communication with the masses, and that’s where most companies fail.
Don’t assume that everyone knows how good the Lumia’s camera is. Show people side-by-side low light photos during reruns of Friends. Show people how live tiles work in between songs on Glee. Show people checking into Foursquare and Facebook at once. Show people the apps you have – 120,000 and counting.
Microsoft needs to put Windows Phone and all its great features front and center in every living room in America and around the world. But more than that, Microsoft needs to use its presence on desktops and laptops worldwide to do things that Android, iOS, and Blackberry can’t do. Wireless charging and nice cameras are cute, but it’s time to step on RIM’s throat and announce to the world – “This just got real”.