Microsoft never gave the Windows Phone the show it deserved

Microsoft never gave the Windows Phone the show it deserved
Credit: Microsoft

A Microsoft official confirmed this weekend that the Windows Phone was dead, and the company had no plans on making any new hardware in the line. While it might be instructive to look for a cause of death in the phone’s hardware, or its software, you could also look to another problem: the marketing.

In an display of honesty, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore confessed on Twitter that the company’s Windows Phone line was effectively dead, and even he had jumped ship. While some updates would continue to roll out, the phone is not going to receive any new features — and we won’t get any new phones.

When someone mentioned the lack of app support on the Windows Phone as a major barrier — just as my colleague Matt Hughes did when he wrote about the downfall of Windows Phone earlier this year — Belfiore said the lack of users created a vacuum of developers despite Microsoft’s best efforts at incentives.

This gives the picture of a chicken-and-egg problem — you need more users to get more app developers on board, but you can’t get more users on board without better apps, etc. But I think there was a chance Microsoft could have done more with the Windows Phone and carved itself a part of the market share had it approached said market a bit better.

The main factor one could point to is the Windows Phone did nothing to stand out. Microsoft did nothing to market it in a showy manner that would differentiate it from its competition. Say what you will about Apple and Google — but they tout their hardware innovations in terms that make a better camera or a larger screen sound like the most necessary and important thing on the planet.

Microsoft didn’t really do that, per se. The marketing just wasn’t there. What few ads and commercials there were for the Windows phone were tongue-in-cheek but not especially descriptive or positive. Which shouldn’t have been the case because the Windows phone was actually doing something different from the other phones available. You just wouldn’t know it from the marketing.

I think it’s best exemplified by this ad, which depicts a knock-down, drag-out fight between iPhone and Android users, while two Windows Phone users stand off to the side and haughtily speculate about how much the two sides love fighting.

Think about at it for longer than four seconds, though, and you realize that, out of a crowd of about 100 people, it implies that only two use Windows Phones, which is depressingly close to the truth. And it tells us nothing about what makes the Windows Phone so different.

There were multiple problems with Windows Mobile, and obviously marketing could only do so much. But they might have carved out the necessary market share had they put on more of a song-and-dance than they did. You have to know how to play to a crowd, and it seems like this was one crowd Microsoft didn’t entirely understand.

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