Microsoft, here’s how to not suck at Windows Phone 8, starting with the ‘Windows’ part

steve-ballmer

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.

Windows

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.

Gimmicks

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.

Apps

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.

  • Cihangirhan

    Excellent article (curious about those dynamites(!) will read or not consider at all). Written from N7100 (I can’t imagine a phone with Windows crying out ” Open the windows, I can’t breath”) ;)

  • http://msn.com Jason

    If you made your way to the comments section before reading the post then you can just keep on moving along. Nothing to see here but MS bashing and link baiting.

    • http://www.twitter.com/gtinari George Tinari

      With a cherry on top.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/FON3E6ETYC6HLHZQIIMON5QFYY Ralph

      up to I looked at the paycheck that said $9134, I didn't believe that my cousin woz like they say trully erning money part-time on their computer.. there moms best frend started doing this for under 11 months and just paid for the morgage on there apartment and bought a great new Aston Martin DB5. go to, A­sk25.­­com

  • Satish

    Windows Phone 8 is great. Windows 8 for desktop sucks big time!!!!

    I want my Windows 7 interface back. This childish windows metro ui sucks.

  • Gregory C Newman

    If indeed Windows phone 8 can run most of the Windows phone 7.5 Mango apps and I think it can and there are over a 100000 of them at this time and windows Phones have 47 of the 50 top apps Smart phone sites article authors should stop staying it lacks apps. anytime a smart phone ecosystem has over 100000 plus more comimg and 47 out 50 of the most popular apps then that ecosystem makes this smart phone still worth buying. so for now on The Authors of smart phone site articles should say that windows smart phones have less apps than the Iphone or Android smart phones but do not indicate that the windows smart phones do not have apps. !00000 apps plus 47 out of 50 of the most popular apps is plenty especially for folks who are not loading up their smart phones with a lot of useless apps

  • Kostas Kritsilas

    Microsoft may not see the success they hope with the desktop version of Wnidows 8. There are way too many compromises made for the touch interface to allow it to work well with a keyboard/mouse. As the designer for the UI said, “there are 500 Million Windows 7 licenses out there”. Guess what? ALL 5000 million of them have keyboards & mice/touchpads. And Windows 8 just made llfe worse for them than if they had stuck to Windows 7. Guess what, there is NO COMPELLING REASON to upgrade to Windows 8, or buy a Windows 8 system. There is nothing wrong with WIndows 7 in any way shape or form. So what is the advantage to moving to Windows 8? This is not a recipe for success on the desktop.

    On mobile devices, where the Windows 8 touch interface makes sense, the tablets and phones just may be a success. The software works well on them, and even Windows Phone 7/7.5 devices were pretty good.

    Kostas

  • Don

    What a moron.

    1. Windows isn’t tainted. It is the largest operating system in the world. Microsoft is attempting to integrate the os across several platforms. What marketing firm told you “windows” isn’t cool, or wouldn’t sell? If you know the slightest thing about how companies work, you would know that millions went into the branding.

    2. The meet your match video, and the Jessica Alba talk are incidental to the marketing strategy, you moron. If you don’t like them, fine. In fact, the REAL marketing campaign is everywhere, on my tv every ten minutes, with celebrities and slick ads. Go into an AT&T store sometime: they’re even wearing Windows Phone shirts.

    God, you’re an imbecile.

  • Nat

    It’s funny how so many journalists assume their opinions are representative of consumers at large. Microsoft spends millions on marketing research that measures preferences and behaviors of its target market. Before any of those multi-million dollar ad campaigns were produced, you can bet your job that there was plenty of research backing up the strategy. They’re not idiots.

  • Windows Phone Rocks

    Windows phone 8 is incredible, to say the very least, and on my nice new nokia lumia 920 it is SO fast it makes the other phones that everyone else in my family, and friendship circle using Iphones, Samsung, and htc phones look like slow, overloaded tractors, yet based on the hardware they have they are supposedly more powerful but ive yet to see it. The work Microsoft has put into this system its obvious, its responsive, it runs multiple programs at once and with great ease, its layout is clean, fresh and very easy to navigate. oh, and it navigating around the system is so easy, with everything you might need to tweak and tune in a simple place to find.
    What I really don’t understand is why every supposed journalist dribbles the same line of “oh no, Microsoft. A terrible brand” and also “the windows application store is lacking the amount of applications of the apple store or the android store”. Boo hoo to you too. What is SO great about having huge numbers of garbage programs, and more than half are copies of copies of copies, so you can at least quarter the number there, and more to the point, I don’t know why you would need 90% of that pure crap anyway. If I want information on train, holidays, taxis, pizza ordering, and all the other totally useless things that I might want to do, I simply hit google, pinned to my start screen and type it in, and bam, its there. infact, I think theres nothing on my phone that ive done that I thought “oh gosh, I wish I had an application for that, but wait, windows phones don’t have as many applications as everyone else, how will I survive”. its a joke, really, as that’s the only thing you clowns can find to fault with windows phone. its not a fault at all

  • Itachi Uchiha

    Windows phone 8 OS and original apps are the greatest piece of garbage ever… I can’t believe a big company like MS can’t do simple apps the right way..

    The basic premise of windows 8 phone is great but the implementation is shit. The one at the top just don’t have the vision it take to do something great… too much functionality missing to make it a useful tool and the way everything is layout in apps is shit..

    And tons of stupid behavior when you want to do simple things..

    Media player is the worst media player ever..
    internet explorer suck
    Cloud implementation suck
    ETC….

    really hope one day some brains will take the reins of those stupid big companies

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