Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
3/26/2012
11:13 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Smoked By Windows Phone, Or Smoke And Mirrors?

Microsoft's buzzworthy Smoked By Windows Phone campaign took an ugly turn over the weekend after a contestant accused Microsoft of cheating.

Microsoft cheated a Windows Phone fan out of a win over the weekend, and the fan took his case to the Internet. The result? Not the kind of publicity Microsoft wants.

Microsoft kicked off a campaign earlier this year called Smoked By Windows Phone. The idea is to advertise that Windows Phones can perform tasks very quickly. A Microsoft employee challenged attendees at CES and later Mobile World Congress to see who could perform a task (such as addressing a new email) faster.

It was fun to watch, and Microsoft was offering cash prizes to those who could beat it. At Mobile World Congress, I watched several rounds of the competition. There was a scoreboard, which showed Microsoft's Windows Phone was winning the majority--but not all--of the challenges.

The Smoked By Windows Phone campaign later moved off the tradeshow floor to Microsoft's retail stores. It is there that Sahas Katta challenged his local Microsoft store to see who could win.

[ Buy a new iPad now, or wait for a Windows 8 tablet later this year? See New iPad Vs. Windows 8 Tablets: 8 Considerations. ]

According to Katta, the challenge was to see which platform could pull up two different cities' weather faster. Katta was using a Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0, and he had disabled the lock screen. All he had to do was push the power button to turn on his home screen, which had two different weather applications running with two different cities. The Microsoft store employee had to take two steps: Press the button to wake the screen, and then slide-to-unlock to get to the home screen. Two steps takes longer than one, plain and simple (but the Microsoft store employee had two separate Live Tiles already prepared on the home screen).

For whatever reason, the Microsoft store employees refused to recognize Katta's win, eventually claiming that he was supposed to show the results of two different cities in two different states.

Katta took to Twitter to complain and Microsoft's Windows Phone champion, Ben Rudolph, reached out and offered Katta a rematch, and later, a free laptop and Windows Phone for his tribulations.

While it is good to see Microsoft quickly made things right, there's a flaw in the entire campaign that bugs me.

Obviously, Microsoft wants to show its platform in the best possible light. You can't fault them for that. The people accepting the Windows Phone challenges are clearly highly trained at specific tasks and have done them repeatedly. For the contest to be 100% legit, the challenger should be the one suggesting the challenge, and both phones should have the same start position (i.e., either both have lock screens enabled or neither of them do).

So what does Microsoft do from here? While the idea behind the Smoked By Windows Phone was a good one, snafus such as this weekend's can cast a cloud over the whole thing. If it is to continue, the rules need to be much clearer and less weighted in Microsoft's favor.

The pay-as-you go nature of the cloud makes ROI calculation seem easy. It’s not. Also in the new, all-digital Cloud Calculations InformationWeek supplement: Why infrastructure-as-a-service is a bad deal. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Sam Iam
50%
50%
Sam Iam,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/28/2012 | 12:20:29 AM
re: Smoked By Windows Phone, Or Smoke And Mirrors?
Yes, and Droids or iPhone can perform all of these tasks. Windows Phone isn't demonstrating unique capabilities. They are demonstrating that setting up widgets, mailing lists, etc allows people to do things faster. Everyone who has ever taken this challenge probably feels that the store employees cheated by setting up automated tasks, which are also available in other phones, to win.
Sam Iam
50%
50%
Sam Iam,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/28/2012 | 12:14:35 AM
re: Smoked By Windows Phone, Or Smoke And Mirrors?
This campaign is so pointless in the first place. The Microsoft employees are aware of the challenges and set up widgets on their phone so they can perform the tasks in half a second. Google, RIM or Apple could set up the same challenge, allow their employees to set up widgets to perform the tasks, and beat Windows Phone 99.99% of the time. The challenge doesn't prove that Windows smokes anything. It probably really annoys the people in their retail stores who feel cheated and definitely turns them off from considering a Windows Phone. Has anyone ever purchased a Windows Phone as a result of getting "smoked"?

Worst Microsoft marketing campaign since the Seinfeld commercial.
EVVJSK
50%
50%
EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2012 | 1:39:22 PM
re: Smoked By Windows Phone, Or Smoke And Mirrors?
I am sure there are many day to day tasks that are simpler with a Nokia S60 type phone with a physical keyboard on it than it is on a keyboard-less phone (Windows or otherwise). I can put my Nokia E71 in silent mode by simply doing a long press on the "#" key. I am guessing that would take at least 2 or 3 "actions" on a touch phone, depending upon what it took to navigate to the location that allowed that. I understand why some don't need Physical keyboards, but for simplifying tasks, they are hard to beat. It is a shame that Nokia has yet to bring to market a new Windows Phone with Physical keyboard (something simliar to their Symbian based E7 phone).
herman_munster
50%
50%
herman_munster,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/26/2012 | 6:16:27 PM
re: Smoked By Windows Phone, Or Smoke And Mirrors?
I dont know. I kind of see this whole campaign as largely pointless. Does it really matter if you can accomplish a task a little faster on an iPhone than on an Android phone, or vice versa with any combination of mobile platforms put head to head?

Does anyone really care if it takes a second or two less time to second an e-mail to 5 friends on a windows phone than on a Blackberry?

What really matters is stability of the platform, hardware and versatility. I'll base my platform decision on the device that works best for me - a device I can mount on a Linux machine to transfer media to and from without using specialized media sharing software, a device with a screen that I can actually read and which has a wide variety of software including a terminal and multi-format ebook reader.

And I wont care if it takes five seconds longer to spam my friends. I'm slow on sending stuff anyway.
FritzNelson
50%
50%
FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/26/2012 | 6:03:01 PM
re: Smoked By Windows Phone, Or Smoke And Mirrors?
At Mobile World Congress, I watched one of these contests, and the objective of one such challenge (the contestant had a BlackBerry) was to send an e-mail (pre-defined subject/message) to 5 friends. Microsoft works out the details of the test beforehand, and so these rules were concocted on the spot, agreed upon, and away they went. Microsoft won. But they did so because the Microsoft employee already had 5 friends set up on a quick contact item, so they just had to create the message, pick that contact, and voila. Quick & easy. Of course, the same thing COULD have been done on a BlackBerry, but the contestant was unaware that Microsoft was doing it this way. The crowd got pretty angry.

I'd think for $100 (the winner's prize), Microsoft could easily lose these and still prove its point. And make people happy (with $100).
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - July 22, 2014
Sophisticated attacks demand real-time risk management and continuous monitoring. Here's how federal agencies are meeting that challenge.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.