Frustrations of Windows Phone: No flagships

Windows Phone has a problem. It’s a problem that has been festering for some time now. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed, and relatively soon. At the same time, it’s a problem that probably ~won’t~ be addressed for at least four to six months. That problem is not related to apps, and it’s not related to market share – at least not directly. You’ve probably read the headline, so you know I’m talking about Windows Phone flagships.

Great brands are measured by their great products. iOS has famously shunned the lower-income customers by only ever releasing flagship phones. Even Apple’s “cheap” iPhone wasn’t all that cheap and at the time. It was basically its last flagship phone but with a hard candy shell. HTC, Samsung, LG and a host of other Android platforms have large events to announce their flagship hardware, while other offerings get put out on store shelves with little or no fanfare.

lumia-720-leakNot so great

And yet, Nokia/Microsoft chooses to buck those trends and not only fail to launch flagship hardware, but to hold events for its not-so-flagship hardware. This isn’t exactly a new thing either. I still have nightmares about the time I stayed up until three o’clock in the morning to watch Nokia unveil the Lumia 720. Ouch, bro.

But honestly, it’s not so much that that’s bugging about Windows Phone recently. It’s what we’ve seen lately that’s bugging me. Microsoft seems to be going all in with software, Windows 10, mobile apps and all that, but completely missing the hardware bus pulling out of the depot. Even Windows 8.1, which was a major revision of the operating system, was introduced on the Lumia 635. I shudder to think what device Windows 10 will roll out on.

In the coming weeks…months…whatever

Now, to be fair, Microsoft did indicate that new flagship hardware was coming, so maybe it’s not so bad. But honestly, what is taking so long? Granted we don’t know it’ll be coming in six months – it could be tomorrow for all we know. But it seems likely that new hardware will come along with the new operating system we’ve heard so much about. But still can we really afford to wait all that time.

I’m a Windows Phone fan. You know what phone I’m using right now? A OnePlus One. I’ve already outlined my reasoning for this. Mostly, it has to do with the absolute desert that is Windows Phone hardware. There are a ~few~ software issues, I’ll admit, but for the most part, it’s the lack of flagship-worthy hardware to get excited about. That’s really sad. Adam Lein took a look at the landscape a few months ago and it really is bad.

The last real flagship-worthy phone to be released for Windows Phone was the HTC One M8. Since then it’s been a parade of low to mid-range phones trotted out to address a particular segment of the market. Sure it’s Windows Phone’s most popular segment, but on the high end, there is just nothing.

NokiaMicrosoftElopBallmerChanges

I suppose this is to be expected. After all, the merger between two major companies might gum up the works as people move in and people move out. But still, Microsoft’s deal with Nokia was completed almost a year ago, crazy to think that might have slowed down the development process but the mobile world is moving forward and Microsoft needs to move with it. Adam Lein suggests that a flagship product is important even if it doesn’t sell because it gives us something to notice before we make our real purchase.

There’s nothing really attractive about the platform except what at this stage is developer preview software. There’s no wow factor around the platform at all. If there is no wow factor, there is little to no interest. If there is anything Microsoft needs, it is interest. Users are what makes a platform go. Maybe Microsoft wants to bide its time until Windows 10 for phones is ready. That would be an awful mistake.

Microsoft is in a situation where it simply cannot afford to wait for anything. It needs to remind its audience that it’s still here and still relevant. Otherwise, the people who care about it will start to lose interest. The perception here is that Microsoft is apathetic to its own OS, so why should we care about it? That’s absolutely the worst possible audience a platform can have. Love it? Great. Hate it? That’s ok. Stop giving a crap? That’s bad. At least love and hate inspire passion. Apathy inspires nothing, except perhaps a change in platforms.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!