Windows Phone: Great OS, Bad Name - InformationWeek
Mobile // Mobile Devices
08:47 PM
Larry Seltzer
Larry Seltzer
Connect Directly

Windows Phone: Great OS, Bad Name

Carriers don't have confidence in "Windows Phone" as a brand. Mostly they avoid discussing it. Fair or not, the name "Windows" doesn't inspire confidence among phone buyers. Microsoft should have named it something else.

Branding is important. People are comfortable with brands they trust and uncomfortable with brands they distrust. "Windows" isn't all that bad a brand overall, but in the smart phone market it doesn't gain trust.

This is a shame because Windows Phone is a great operating system. Unfortunately, it's not a product. When you buy a desktop or notebook PC, you may be buying a Dell or Lenovo or HP, but you're also keenly aware that you are buying a Windows computer. Not so with phones for most consumers.

But carriers can trick consumers into buying a Windows Phone handset. The phones can be disguised as handset makers' or carriers' own brands. For instance, when Android phones are advertised, there usually is no mention of Android unless they're talking to dweebs like me. However, ads for the iPhone emphasize the phone, not iOS the operating system. Apple, however, is a top brand and flaunting its phone is a key selling point.

But it's not just the desire to promote their own brands. One representative of a handset maker told me that they think their customers have negative views of the Windows brand. It doesn't have to be a majority; if a quarter of users get less than a warm fuzzy from the name "Windows" it's too much from the carrier and handset-makers' perspective. So most of the ads for the Lumia would give you the impression that these "tiles" and other UI characteristics are features of the Lumia.

When tricked into buying a phone with it, customers love Windows Phone. Look at the user ratings on the Nokia Lumia 900, the hot-stuff Windows Phone these days:

Amazon ratings breakdown
That's 4.8 out of 5 stars! The Lumia is a winner. Users love it and even the published reviews were largely very positive, such as InformationWeek's Fritz Nelson's.

In fact, I think it's fair to say that Windows Phone is well-respected in the technical community. If it's dismissed or ignored, it's for the view that Windows Phone and Microsoft are puny underdogs in this market, and that they are.

But that same lack of emphasis on operating systems lowers a barrier to entry. A company like Microsoft can force their foot in the door by throwing money at handset makers (like they did with Nokia) and at carriers. Windows 8, which will share a base of code with the desktop/tablet versions of Windows 8, may make it even more attractive by expanding the user software available.

Windows Phone could end up developing as good a reputation as the Lumia has. It really could happen. It would have been easier if Microsoft chose a name without so much baggage.

What should Microsoft have named Windows Phone? Put your suggestions in a comment below.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Digital Transformation Myths & Truths
Transformation is on every IT organization's to-do list, but effectively transforming IT means a major shift in technology as well as business models and culture. In this IT Trend Report, we examine some of the misconceptions of digital transformation and look at steps you can take to succeed technically and culturally.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored 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.
Flash Poll