Market share numbers are important, but so is momentum. Momentum is the feeling of forward-progress; it’s what creates excitement, draws anticipation, and makes people become true fanatics towards a given product. Momentum is the critical “X factor” that any new product needs to succeed. Windows Phone 7 has this momentum.
We’ve done our fair share of questioning of Microsoft’s strategy along the way. We’ve pointed out how Windows Phone 7 is far from innovative in terms of the core user experience–at the end of the day, there’s nothing truly unique when compared to other operating systems, save for the interface and fluidity of the experience. We’ve made mention of how Microsoft’s timeline for Windows Phone 7 is too slow–Mango should have been the first release of the platform, and because it wasn’t, it’s easy to argue that the platform is a year or two behind Android Gingerbread (and certainly Ice Cream Sandwhich, though we don’t know much about that) and iOS 5 (due out any day now). Additionally, we’ve denounced Microsoft’s hardware strategy, frustrated by the full twelve month cycle between generations of devices.
But none of these weaknesses matter much in the face of momentum. Where is this momentum coming from? Let’s dissect the situation.
Windows Phone 7 is good. The experience is unlike anything else you can get from an Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry. It’s super-smooth, super-pretty, and it brings forth new interface paradigms that just make sense. With Mango we get fast-app switching, a new browser, plus a host of new goodies. While the Mango features don’t leapfrog beyond the competition, they serve to make a great platform better.
It was very meaningful to the Windows Phone 7 story that HTC held several events around the world recently to launch their new Windows Phone 7 devices. The events weren’t about Android, but exclusively Windows Phone 7. It’s clear that HTC is fully invested in Microsoft’s operating system. The HTC Radar and Titan look fantastic. And while they’re not packing dual core processors or NFC chips or new screen technology, they’re going to be fast and capable phones that bring forth fantastic build quality to Windows Phone 7.5. And of course we’re going to see other Windows Phone 7 hardware this fall from the likes of Samsung, Asus, Dell, and others, that will offer unique ways to experience WP7.
Oh, and don’t forget about Nokia. Sea Ray/N800, basically an N9 with Windows Phone 7, is going to be incredible hardware, and might just become the standard of Windows Phone hardware, or even the standard for smartphone hardware in general.
Windows Phone 7 is the anti-Android, the anti-Apple. People have grown tired of Apple fanboyism that has led to everyone and their mother (and grandmother) to own an iPhone. And Android isn’t much better: it’s the platform of teens, the platform of those that want to feel like they are on the cutting-edge of technology.
Windows Phone 7, on the other hand, is the underdog. It’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of operating system, that doesn’t grant the flexibility afforded by a jailbroken iPhone or rooted Android. A lot of people appreciate this level of simplicity. And, once they start using the phone, they’re impressed by the functionality of the device. Add to that the inclusion of Microsoft assets like Xbox, Zune, and Office, and you’re soon fully invested in Microsoft’s ecosystem.
And also, let us not forget, with webOS out of the picture, Windows Phone 7 is playing in a smaller field, which gives them more opportunity to stand out. RIM is still playing in another field altogether: the dwindling market for business-only devices. Being third by default is better than being fourth by default.
Microsoft is Rich
As was the case with Xbox, Microsoft can afford to bleed money and stay invested in a new product for a very long period of time. This is Microsoft’s shot at mobile, and they’re willing to wait and spend until they succeed.
What’s Your Take
Do you agree with me? Is Windows Phone 7 indeed winning, or do the still-lackluster market share figures tell a bigger story?