Microsoft Windows Phone Headed Toward Zombieland? - InformationWeek
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1/29/2016
12:06 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Microsoft Windows Phone Headed Toward Zombieland?

New flagship hardware released during Q4 wasn't enough to help overcome Microsoft Windows Phone's long, downward spiral into a zombie platform.

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Windows Phone doesn't have much of a future, based on the numbers highlighted in Microsoft's fourth quarter results. Sales of new handsets crashed precipitously, leaving Microsoft with a sliver of a sliver of the global smartphone market. Has the platform's Day of Reckoning finally arrived? Maybe.

Microsoft says it sold about 4.5 million Lumia smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2015. That's down a whopping 57% in terms of volume from the 10.5 million it sold during the fourth quarter of 2014. Revenue for its handset division crashed almost as hard, down 49% year-over-year.

To put those numbers into some perspective, Samsung shipped an estimated 86 million devices during the fourth quarter and Apple shipped 74.8 million iPhones (generating $51 billion in revenue in the process). When stacked up against the 400 million in total device sales during the fourth quarter of 2015, Microsoft is left clinging to just 1.1% of the market.

(Image: Nicolas McComber/iStockphoto)

(Image: Nicolas McComber/iStockphoto)

Want to gaze at an even bleaker picture? Since its 2010 debut, the Windows Phone platform has seen total shipments of 110 million handsets. In that same time, Apple and Google have together shipped a combined 4.5 billion devices running iOS and Android. That has to be a soul-crushing number for Microsoft to digest.

The Windows 10 platform has succeeded in the PC and tablet space (so far), but the promise of universal apps hasn't yet had a chance to impact Windows 10 Mobile. The platform's biggest weakness has always been the lack of apps when compared to Android and iOS. Developers aren't porting their apps to Microsoft's smartphones in great enough numbers.

It's not that there aren't hundreds of thousands of apps available to Windows Phones, because there are. The problem is Windows Phone lags badly in core apps, and when core apps do happen to reach Windows Phone (looking at you, Instagram), the apps lack the quality of their Android/iOS counterparts.

Microsoft released the Lumia 950, 950 XL, and 550 handsets in December, in the hope of reversing its slide into oblivion. So far these phones have gone nowhere. The buggy build of Windows Mobile, the lack of apps, and miniscule support from wireless carriers have more or less doomed them.

[Read: Is the iPhone Finally Losing Its Mojo?]

The question then becomes: What does Microsoft do with its phone business? The company's Surface tablet team is rumored to be working on a Surface Phone, but it won't arrive until late in 2016 (if at all). By then we'll have the iPhone 7 with iOS 10 and new Nexus phones with Android 7.0. Does Microsoft keep Windows 10 alive as an option for enterprise users, or does it kill off the platform once and for all and focus on other products? (For example, its excellent Android and iOS apps.)

What are your thoughts? Please sound off in the comments below.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
2/5/2016 | 10:21:37 AM
Re: Not out of the game yet
@Tan. I agree. I think windows phone will go the way of blackberry.  Since they are  business, they already ask themselves. Why support an entity that is losing rather than making money? Would anyone here support a windows phone for personal or professional use.  I think they arrive at the game too late.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2016 | 2:09:46 AM
Re: Not out of the game yet
I did not see the point to have a Windows phone, either. The advantage for Windows phone may be the ability to run Windows applications. But if I need to use Windows application, why not use Surface instead? I don't see the Apps currently available on Windows Phone are so attractive.
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2016 | 4:06:32 PM
Re: Not out of the game yet
Thanks for that. I hate to say it, but I think I might need to give the Surface a look (gasp).
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2016 | 1:20:21 PM
Re: Enterprise sales?
@progman, not so sure related to that old bully hate but agree there is stigma. This universal apps is a double edged sword: If their O/S and apps (think IE) were great, best of breed, then that would be strength for phone. But since o/s is despised for how easy malware corrupts and IE is a hated browser (in terms of app compatibility) compared to Chrome, why would anyone want phone with same issues?

Did you know that Sharepoint 2013, their latest released version of SP, will not run without Compat Mode in IE11 legacy browser? And forget running in Edge browser.

Until they get their act together (if ever), more and more people are going to turn away from them completely. We are an Active Directory company and have a standard of Win 7 Business desktops. Yet I'm about ready to standardize on Chrome for browser because it runs Sharepoint 2013 better and also my Extjs (HTML5) apps I've written for company. How sad is that?
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2016 | 12:44:27 PM
Re: Not out of the game yet
@programn2000,

I share my personal experience, so hopefully it'll help you make a decision:

- I love that Android tablets allow a great deal of flexibility, mostly with media. I can plug to my PC via USB and transfer files easilly. The main pain point is not all apps are optimized for whichever version of android device you have, so it's a hit and miss. I have a nexus 7, so it's pure android, so you always get the most recent updates.

- Surface is by far the best for productivity. The keyboard is very responsive, and it's my next option when compared to a laptop keyboard. It has it's fair share of apps for entertainment purposes, but if you're looking for the most recent app support, that's it's short fall.

- Ipads have the best app ecosystem, but media consumption I favor Android, and for productivity I favor surface.

Of all devices, web browsing on Ipads is smoother.

Hope this helps
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2016 | 12:38:14 PM
Re: Not out of the game yet
@shakeeb,

I have android, iOS and Windows devices, so I do agree that Android hast the larger number, but of all ecosystems iOS is both the most stable and better quality. I've used the same app accross platforms, and iOS is the only one that never crashes and gets updates more frequently.

 
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2016 | 12:35:42 PM
Re: Enterprise sales?
@shakeeb,

A little of both. Microsoft did a great job at allowing all platforms to run Microsoft Office Mobile, but I think what can differentiate windows phones from others is a more collaborative ecosystem.

Windows 10 has done a great job at allowing both apps and desktop applications run smoothly. It's this same win that it might get them gaining more momentum.
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 10:47:21 PM
Re: Not out of the game yet
They have brought the Surface tablet onto many TV sets too. I don't care much about the tablet but I've heard they're quite nice. 
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 9:42:58 PM
Re: Enterprise sales?
@Broadway: We're at the third version and still MS is licking its fresh wounds. Maybe MS would pull out. If only the app store was good enough. Even the design of the app store is pathetic. When will MS make some good design for their apps?
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 9:17:43 PM
Re: Not out of the game yet
@Shakeeb: windows isn't the right choice maybe because of its complicated design rules. Developing an app for Windows phone is a pain. However I think windows is the best OS to run phones on, with its minimal to no lag even after years of use and amazing memory management. People should have known that bigger isn't always better. The Lumia with the 512 mb ram was faster than the Android with 2gb.
Page 1 / 6   >   >>
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