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12/28/2011
10:57 PM
Ed Hansberry
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Will Windows Phone Take Off In 2012?

Microsoft has two updates planned for its mobile platform next year, and its application store has a lot of apps. Will it spur sales?

Two big events happened in 2011 for Windows Phone. First, Nokia announced it was abandoning Symbian and switching to Windows Phone, and it released a few devices late in the year with more planned in 2012. Second, Microsoft shipped the Mango update to just about every user. Both events generated a lot of news, but sales have yet to move upward. Will 2012 be a better year for the platform?

Microsoft is already planning two major updates in 2012, code named Tango and Apollo. WMPoweruser has obtained a few slides showing the roadmap for WP7. Both Tango and Apollo are targeted for the fourth quarter. It looks like it will be a bit of a fork in the platform.

Tango looks like it will be targeted for low-end devices in order to compete on price. These will be the phones you get for $50 or less, even for free, when you sign a two-year contract in the U.S. This has been a key area in which Android has dominated. Brand new devices like the T-Mobile LG DoublePlay or the Verizon LG Enlighten have come out of the gate as free devices, helping fuel Android's increase in market share. Even Apple has gotten into the game by continuing to sell the 3GS for $0.99 on AT&T's network.

Apollo is for higher end phones. Microsoft expects it will increase sales and cater more to businesses. It should also allow for "competitive superphones," which presumably means dual-core processors and LTE radios.

The Windows Phone Marketplace has also surpassed 50,000 apps. While still significantly behind Android and iOS in the app count, it is growing at a respectable rate. It took just over a year to get to 40,000 apps, but the next 10,000 came in just 90 days.

It still lacks in content though. All too often, when sites post articles on apps, Windows Phone is left out. LifeHacker has a weekly "Most Popular Downloads" post. When looking at the last three weeks, there are seven apps listed for Android, six for iOS and even one for Blackberry. Windows Phone was nowhere to be found. Users read these kinds of articles and when seeing Android and iOS mentioned so often, it impacts buying decisions. People don't put a lot of consideration into what comes with the phone. Email, SMS, Web browsing, voice calls, etc. are just table stakes. What really matters is what is the phone capable of when downloading a few apps.

Nokia and Mango should both boost sales, and we will know when Q4 2011 numbers start coming in how much they move the needle. They will have to, because future updates are about a year away.

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melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/9/2012 | 8:47:10 PM
re: Will Windows Phone Take Off In 2012?
It would have to be a better year, wouldn't it? Considering...

But I don't understand why MS has to have three versions of its OS. There's no need for that, so they must be artificially breaking it down so that they charge manufacturers for the high end version the way they do with Windows.

The excuse of different hardware isn't a good one. Apple, for example has the same OS version on three generations of phones with very different hardware and performance. Ms itself sells the same version to companies and end users with thousands of different computers.
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/7/2012 | 1:55:56 AM
re: Will Windows Phone Take Off In 2012?
I don't think it will take off. 1) There is little ISV/developer support. 2) There is no OEM (cell phone manufacturer) support, expect Nokia due to Microsoft's billion plus subsidy. The OEMs have witnessed how the Microsoft model has worked for the PC OEMs (HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc) and they do not want any part of it. The OEMs will never climb aboard as long as Microsoft does not allow them to alter the interface or functions which puts them in a commodity market where they are hamstrung to differentiate themselves from their competitors on technology and need to compete on price. Microsoft will also need to get much more generous with their profit sharing than they are with the PC OEMs.

Also, like it or not, smartphones are fashion accessories where the hipness of your brand matters almost more than feature/function. It is difficult for anyone to come up with a function that they need to have on iOS that is not on BlackBerry or vice-versa (or Android vs. iOS). Microsoft suffers from a serious cool factor deficit vs. Apple and the Android devices.
EVVJSK
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EVVJSK,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/6/2012 | 8:44:01 PM
re: Will Windows Phone Take Off In 2012?
As this article relates to your article asking if Apple devices have peaked , I think if Apple has peaked, Microsoft will gain some from those looking "for something else". Not necessarily better, but "something else".
softwarevideo
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softwarevideo,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/5/2012 | 7:03:59 AM
re: Will Windows Phone Take Off In 2012?
Its really great to read this blog. We expect more interesting updates on technology news.
ANON1234449176287
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ANON1234449176287,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/29/2011 | 8:10:14 PM
re: Will Windows Phone Take Off In 2012?
I think Microsoft made a mistake releasing the information in the roadmap. I was really considering the Nokia Lumia 800 when it gets here but if the Apollo update has significantly improved specs, specifically screen specs, I'd be crazy to waste money on an update before it comes out. I bet a lot of people feel the same way. The other thing that is missing is vendor participation in the app market. Ex: there are various car manufacturers that have smartphone apps that can unlock and start cars. None of those are available for Windows phones.

I've had an iPhone and an Android phone. I currently have a WP7 phone. There are a lot of things I like about the Windows phone. And it performs better on a single core processor than most, if not all, Androids do on a dual core processor. But, the limitations on apps is a problem. They've got to solve that. I am considering going back to Android because of that . . . and Swype, which was a lot to give up.
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