Any respectable company wants to grow its user-base. Companies can’t stay stagnant, they have to grow, or they will be eaten up by their competition. Microsoft isn’t going to be eaten up any time soon, but their smartphone platform isn’t growing — at least not compared to their competition. It shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone who has been following the news: Windows Phone is still a distant third in the smartphone race. What’s a mega-corporation like Microsoft to do in this situation? Try to steal Android users, of course!
Android and iOS dominate the market, and Microsoft knows it. Their response, in addition to crazy wedding videos, is a new app: Switch to Windows Phone. The app, which is available for free in the Play Store, lets Android users see which of their installed apps are available on Windows Phone. Here’s what Microsoft has to say about it:
“Use Switch to Windows Phone to see how many of your Android apps are available on Windows Phone. Just run Switch to Windows Phone on your Android, and this app will check to see if your installed apps are available in the Windows Phone Store. It’s that easy.
“Then (if you choose) Switch to Windows Phone can save your results so you can retrieve them later on your new Windows Phone and install the apps. You don’t need to remember every app you had on your Android, and you download only the apps you want.”
The app sounds good, in concept. In practice, however, it’s missing some features and providing a bias toward switching. After cataloging the applications installed on your Android, this app checks the Windows Phone Store for a matching app, then gives you a result screen like this:
Out of how many?
What the app doesn’t do is more important than what it does. First, the app doesn’t tell you how many apps you have installed. From the example above, twenty-six may seem like a lot, but out of how many? I’ve got over eighty apps installed on my Android, but the app doesn’t tell me this , it doesn’t even tell me what percentage of my apps are available on Windows Phone. That’s a big oversight.
UPDATE: The version of the app available for download now does show the percentage match, but no longer shows the number of apps that were “matched”.
But do I even use those?
Next, even if the app provided an overall count or a percentage of apps matched, that could be misinterpreted, too. Almost every smartphone today has some amount of bloatware installed on it. These are apps that you don’t necessarily want, but come pre-installed on your device. Often you’re not able to remove these types of apps, but they would still be counted in your “Switch” list.
Are all those apps important to you? I could probably get rid of a third of the apps that I have installed because I don’t use them any more. These apps are also included in the “Switch” list. Ideally, the app would monitor which apps you actually use, and provide a realistic representation of what apps are available to you “on the other side”.
Identical or replacements?
Another issue of the resulting match-list is that it finds “identical or replacement applications”. The first problem with this is that many of the “identical” apps for Windows Phone are missing features found in their Android counterparts. The second problem is the “or replacement” part of the matching. Who’s to say what a “replacement” app is or is not. Is Hulu+ a replacement for Netflix? Kindle Reader for Google Play Books? I Heart Radio for Pandora? Obviously not, though the app could imply that they are to convince you to switch.
What about my content?
I’ve purchased dozens of apps for my Android. Is Microsoft going to foot the bill to pay for the replacements on Windows Phone, or am I going to have to buy them all over again? I’ll let you figure that one out.
What about my content? I’ve purchased dozens and dozens of books, music, TV episodes, and movies from the Play Store. Will Microsoft somehow migrate my Google-based purchases to Windows Phone? Are those titles included in the “Switch” list? Are those titles even available on Windows Phone?
Why no iOS version?
Some of you might think that calling this “stealing users” may be to harsh. I respectfully disagree. Trying to attract new customers is certainly fair play. If that’s what Microsoft is trying to do, why is there no Switch to Windows Phone for iOS? Microsoft isn’t trying to attract new customers, they’re targeting one platform and trying to steal them with half-truths and factual omissions.
I’m disappointed that Microsoft would stoop so low.
What about you? Are you an Android user? Does this app make you more likely or less likely to switch to Windows Phone? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.