Look at that dynamite smile.
The sad truth is that so-called dynamite smile actually led a company that created a pretty good product. Windows Phone 8 isn’t bad at all. Aside from the lack of apps, which we’ll get in to, the OS itself is a fresh contribution to the smartphone market and it’s managed to get a lot of technology enthusiasts excited.
Notice how I said “technology enthusiasts.” The problem is the vast majority of regular consumers who walk into a carrier store looking for a smartphone or even just talk about their own smartphones among each other (which I see all the time) don’t give a shit about Windows Phone 8 — and that’s only if they know what Windows Phone 8 is. Many don’t.
There’s a few reasons why I think that is and none of them have to do with the operating system being significantly inferior to iOS or Android.
As I promised in the title of this post, let’s start with Windows. If I may be so blunt, the brand “Windows” isn’t cool. Apple and Google (largely helped by vendors) have done an excellent job making “iPhone” and “Android” cool. Why Microsoft stubbornly wants to slap the “Windows” brand onto pretty much every product it makes is beyond me. Windows this, Windows that — and nobody cares except for Microsoft. Are those people up in Redmond that oblivious to not know the Windows brand doesn’t have the star power they seem to insinuate by putting it on everything?
Rebrand, damn it. Rebrand. This is especially important when you have an entirely new product. Windows Phone is absolutely nothing like the Windows Mobile OS yet it bares the same brand name. I’d be very surprised if Microsoft considered for even a second to drop “Windows” from the new mobile OS it had been working on. I understand that by using Windows for everything it creates synergy (I hate that word — might as well dress me up in a suit and throw me in a corporate meeting room with PowerPoint 2003 running on the projection screen) between the various products like Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, but I’d argue the Windows 8 desktop OS shouldn’t bare the “Windows” name either.
Microsoft grasped onto this concept well with its search engine, rebranding it from “Windows Live Search” to “Bing.” The reason is Windows Live Search had a tarnished reputation and Microsoft needed to start fresh if it wanted to compete. Bing is a reimagined product like Windows Phone 8 is. I’m convinced the main reason it didn’t grab a large chunk of the search engine market share is Google pretty much has a monopoly going for itself. The same is not true with smartphone market share; the pie chart is very vulnerable. Another prime example: MobileMe to iCloud.
Have I made my point clearly enough? Good, now we can move on to Microsoft’s shitty marketing tactics. Yesterday I wrote about the new “Meet Your Match” campaign Microsoft is running in which a laid back Microsoft representative challenges a regular not-paid-at-all-to-do-this person to accomplish a task on their mediocre iPhone or Android device faster than the Windows Phone device.
In the ad, the girl obviously loses to the Windows Phone but gets to win a Windows-based smartphone anyway to which she responds “Yeah, I’m like freaking out ’cause my phone sucks!” Oh please just shut the hell up for me. The fact that Microsoft actually thinks people are going to buy this “Meet Your Match” bullshit means the company is very out of sync with the minds of the people, which is bad. The director yells “Cut!” and that girl walks away to place a FaceTime call.
Microsoft has been trying these gimmicks for a long time and it’s not letting up — quite the opposite, actually. When the company held the event in October to announce details of Windows Phone 8, it very obviously paid Jessica Alba to get up on stage and endorse the product. This woman could not have been more awkward. Plus, the audience of that event primarily consisted of journalists. I find it a little insulting that Microsoft thinks we’re dumb enough to believe Jessica Alba genuinely loves and freely chooses to promote Windows Phone 8.
Let’s not forget Oprah tweeted “Gotta say love that SURFACE! Have bought 12 already for Christmas gifts. #FavoriteThings” from an iPad. Don’t laugh, because it’s not a joke. Okay… you can laugh a little bit.
Microsoft, the best way to convince people who you have a good product is to let the product speak for you. Relying on gimmicks — and not even good ones at that — only makes you look pathetic, desperate, and unconfident in your product.
The final topic on the list isn’t really at the fault of Microsoft. Where are all the goddamn Windows Phone apps? These days, a platform is nothing without a large and thriving app marketplace. This past Monday I published a list of the top 5 apps for the holidays as part of our IntoMobile Holiday Tech Guide. As hard as tried, I only found one on Windows Phone: Netflix.
Microsoft needs to work much harder at getting developers to create their well-known apps for Windows Phone. In fact, Microsoft should be paying them to do it. You can’t blame the developers for wanting to wait first before developing because if Windows Phone doesn’t make any money, neither will the apps. If Microsoft stopped spending so much money on gimmicky advertisements and more on getting developers to expand the app marketplace on Windows Phone, that’d kill two birds in one stone right there.
I’d hate to see Microsoft blow it with Windows Phone 8 because as I said, it’s a worthy competitor to iOS and Android. The steps the company is taking to achieve success with it, however, are all wrong. It’s time for Microsoft to start thinking logically and genuinely rather than falling back on old habits.