Keeping Microsoft in the Mobile Game

STOP - Making ExcusesThe numbers look pretty dim for the Windows Phone platform. Perhaps that’s one reason why Microsoft recently decided to roll all the “Windows” properties into one name. There will be no more Windows Phone, but I’m still going to call it that.

Windows Phone’s Q2 2014 market share dropped from 3.4 percent to 2.5 percent year-over-year. Source: IDC

What Could Bring Windows Back?

There are a few things that could help Windows Phones make a come back, but both will require a leap of faith and perhaps a leap in technology. There are likely many more, but II

New Gardens & Dual Boot --- With the advances in processor power and ease of access to memory I’d like to see Microsoft make the Windows Phones “Dual Boot” capable. Microsoft already makes something like $5 for every Android device. Why not work out a licensing arrangement where Windows Phone users can have access to the Google Play library.

I’m not sure why Microsoft, Google, or even VM hasn’t done this yet. I can envision an upstart player creating a Virtual Machine that enables multiple operating systems to boot up simultaneously. Blackberry and Samsung had a feature for a “Work” and a “Personal” boot option. I don’t think they literally rebooted to a new partition, but the work, tasks and actions could be separated. The same thing could be applied to the Windows Phone platform.

  • Reality Check 1: I’m sure there are scads of technical reasons why this is not possible and/or would be hard to manage. But, if Microsoft wants to kick start it’s mojo what better way than by making it possible to run Android or Apple on a Windows Phone device.

  • Reality Check 2: Would the licensing be a nightmare? Yes. Would the other vendors balk? Probably. Would it help Microsoft regain a seat at the adults table? I think the answer is a definitive yes.

The risk of not seeking a way to do this is related to the size of the app market place. The Microsoft Windows Phone platform has around 300,000 apps today. That’s a respectable number. But, it pales in comparison to the 1 million apps for Apple and Android, respectively. Sure, we’ve heard that Microsoft is focused on getting the popular apps out there. That’s great PR fodder. But, if the devices support dual boot or multi-boot this becomes irrelevant.

If Microsoft can't convince users that it has the best apps, the best productivity software, or the best array of devices, than what does it have? Source: Motley Fool

Low End Phones --- which Nokia is exceptionally good at making en masse. Now that the $7.2B acquisition of Nokia is complete they need to get busy making money. The US and Europe may be the low hanging fruit for smart phones, but it’s also where all the competition is making huge strides. Think Bigger! Go Global.

The Rest of the World may be ready for a new phone. It might be just a feature phone, but I suspect as Internet access becomes more prevalent they will be Smart Phones. As the low end smart phones start to make their way around the world Microsoft may find themselves on the winning side of a nascent phone market.

I Want to Believe

I’ve said it many times and in too many places to count. I want to believe. I want Microsoft to succeed. However, from my perspective it seems there is still not enough listening going on with the people that use the Windows Phones and want to see them continue to improve.

Case in Point:
The Windows Phone 8.1 upgrade, aka Cyan. I have a Windows Phone 920 and AT&T pushed the Cyan upgrade out a few weeks ago. My experience has not been pleasant. I’m not impressed. Sure, Cortana is now available and it’s a cool app / feature. But, from my point of view the Windows Phone development team took away too much just to add one cool feature. Most notably for me was the Social Media capabilities – these have been severely crippled.

Call me crazy. I’m sure there are a few that do already. But, I think Microsoft and the Windows Phones have a new chance at surviving. With the new CEO, Satya Nadella, at the helm there is hope. Microsoft has regularly been able to Tilt the Tables. This might be the next iteration of Table Tilting or perhaps a bit of Ballmer’esque Table Hurling.

What do you think?

  • Is it game over?
  • Is it possible for a resurgence?
  • Is the a game changing scenario on the horizon?

Drop a note in the comments or on the Social Media channels.


Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, K2 and Gimmal. Tweet him @jshuey or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+

He is a contributing author to Entrepreneur, Elite Daily, Yahoo, US News and to the Personal Branding Blog.