Smartphones: unbalanced exposure? [Part 2 of 2]

I’m not slating the phone vendors in this post, however their web-sites don’t lend themselves to selling Windows Phone devices. I visited five of the the UK’s most popular phone vendors and found a disappointing slant towards ‘droid devices and Samsung as a device supplier.

O2’s site had a “Phones with the best” drop-down menu that included “Android operating system” in the drop-down. I’m with O2, as is my wife, we think they’re great…however c’mon guys, that menu option is very wrong!

Vodafone had some promise. However that good feeling soon disappeared when they offered to help me choose between iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. Their selector wasn’t much help, it was too limiting.


Three were very much the same, just offering direct links to the big three, “i” device, ‘berry and ‘droid.

T-Mobile shared O2’s weird classification, including operating systems and phone suppliers in their choice:

Orange had a dedicated link to a Windows Phone 7 page, which was good. However the emphasis on the “i” products is still there. Notice that the “i” tablet device is listed separately, yet there is a “tablets and pads” section.


It’s not just me…

How easy is it to find Windows Phone devices once at a carrier’s web-site?
I am pleased to see that O2 have a dedicated Windows Phone 7 page on their web-site: O2 – Windows Phone 7.

Similarly, Orange have a dedicated Windows Phone 7 page on their web-site: Orange – Windows Phone 7.

Vodafone’s page was rather disappointing, so here are the direct links to today’s phones: HTC 7 Trophy and LG Optimus 7

I couldn’t find any Windows Phone 7 devices on the Three web-site. I was under the impression that they were going to carry the Samsung Omnia 7, it seems not.

T-Mobile didn’t have Windows Phone 7 device offering either. Again, I was sure that they were carrying the Samsung Omnia 7, evidently not.

Hopefully this is a situation that will change as soon as Nokia get their marketing and distribution engines fired up.

Smartphones: unbalanced exposure? [Part 1 of 2]

In my last post, I was singing the praises of Windows Phone and the devices that it’s installed on. This post is going to serve as a brain dump of my thoughts relating to smartphone marketing, as I see it in the UK. It seems so unbalanced, it seems to favour specific devices, platforms and device providers.

Since it’s launch, Windows Phone has picked up significant momentum such that it is a very credible alternative to the other black slab smartphones that are out there. I’m not planning to use this post to share huge amounts of “market share” information with you, there are plenty of sites doing that already, some better than others. However, what I do want to get off my chest is the unbalanced advertising that I see for the other black slabs. Everywhere I turn, I see full page spreads offering me ‘droid devices, ‘berry devices or the “i” device. Around about the launch of Windows Phone during late 2010, I did see some newspaper adverts, however they seem to have all but dried up.

So what’s the deal? How do the phone vendors and carriers decide which devices to promote? I’ve heard that in the US, staff that sell a particular device receive additional commission. I can’t imagine it’s much different here in the UK. However, since it’s always the ‘droid devices, the ‘berry and the “i” devices that are the subject of such huge promotion, it makes me wonder how Windows Phone devices will ever reach the mainstream. I’m fairly hooked into the developer community and I know that there is a lot of excitement in the Windows Phone application development space. What can we do to take that excitement and enthusiasm for the device out to the consumers?

That leads to my next question, are the phone vendors and their staff geared up and armed with sufficient knowledge to sell Windows Phone devices? If they are receiving a higher commission for selling a ‘droid device over a Windows Phone device, why should they skill up on Windows Phone? All they have to do is convince the customer / punter that the ‘droid device is the device they are looking for. The playing field has to be levelled if there is to be genuine competition. The phone vendors need to play a major part in balancing their pitch point and they need to ensure that their staff are given all the necessary training to be able to compare, contrast and sell Windows Phone, ‘droid, ‘berry and “i” devices.

The key draw of the application logos in the cutting below is clearly there to capture the social audience, those with an interest in online shopping and the casual mobile gamer. Windows Phone can do all of that; it has an official Twitter app, an official eBay app, an official Facebook app, Amazon and of course the much-played Angry Birds. So why does this particular advert need to use an array of five non-Windows Phone devices? Both adverts in this post carried the word “free”, yet also had a monthly cost of £15 or £25 attached. There is the obvious irony of “here’s something for free, that will cost you ££ per month”, however that’s not for discussion here!

Choice is important in the marketplace, so why offer such an array of devices, yet limit the actual choice of phone operating system? I’m confused, I’m looking for answers and I can’t find them; well none that don’t involve money in some way.

Perhaps this is what the marketplace actually wants? Is today’s phone buyer driven by much little more than the knowledge the device is the right colour, it looks good and it can run Facebook and Angry Birds? What does the competition really look like? Are we looking at an underworld of competition between Apple, Google and RIM? Looking at the vendor sites, it certainly looks like it’s a tight market with directed competition. I really want to see Windows Phone succeed and make its way into the “top 3” sooner rather than later. However, until the phone vendors and carriers iron out their competitive issues, I think it’s going to be a struggle.

Of course, Microsoft’s partnering with Nokia should provide a means of getting Windows Phone devices in front of vast numbers of consumers, certainly in Europe. I understand that Nokia have built bridges with the carriers in the USA, which does bode well for market penetration over there too. Nokia are well-known in Europe, they’ve recently ordered a couple of million devices, which suggests that they mean business. One would hope that with the might of Nokia, its existing distribution infrastructure and its need to succeed in the smartphone space that we’ll see some serious competition for the “i”, ‘berry and ‘droid devices that are omnipresent in the newspaper adverts.

I’m keen to hear what you have to think about this subject, please feel free to comment. Thanks in advance!

In the meantime, ignore the phones above, the Windows Phone devices below can run all of the big name apps, games and tools!

And there’s all this other Windows Phone swag at Amazon too!

40 days and 40 nights with #WindowsPhone 7

In July, I finally gave in and won a bid on eBay. I rarely win bids on eBay, apart from the ‘buy it now’ variety, but that just equates to online shopping. I had been bidding on Windows Phone 7 devices, not thinking my bid would actually be considered good enough to actually win the goods. Of course I won the goods and had to pay up. I became the proud owner of an HTC HD7, two batteries, a desktop dock, car cradle, a carry case and a clean install of Windows Phone 7 (build 7392).

Moving to Windows Phone 7 has been an excellent move. I feel more organised, at least when I’m on the move (I can’t say that my primary e-mail inbox is anything to gauge that statement on!) The device integrates itself with Facebook. Some folks say that’s a bad thing, it certainly hasn’t proven to be a problem for me. Being able to “link” contact records between the Facebook and any number of e-mail accounts is a real boon. Couple that with the de-duplication feature in Windows Live, no longer do I have to see multiple contact records for the same person.

Windows Phone 7 also lends itself to getting your contacts sorted out, once and for all. I had contacts in Outlook (both at home and at work) and on a Nokia handset. After “some” effort, I was able to get all of my contacts into my Windows Live account. Most of the hassle that I had during this process was down to the Nokia PC Suite software – a product I will never need to see again, ever. After a little bit of tweaking, I was able to get my personal Outlook calendar and contacts synchronising with the phone. Importantly, I was also able to get my corporate Outlook calendar synchronising too.

Prior to the HTC HD7, for corporate use, I had been using a couple of Nokia devices, a 6021 and a 7230. Both were “candy bar” style devices, one was a traditional black’n’white device, the other had a colour screen with a slide out numeric keypad. For personal use, I was using a Palm Treo running Windows Mobile 6.1. Now that I am running the HTC device as my personal phone, the Nokia devices have been retired…the corporate SIM card is in the Palm Treo. The Palm Treo is used as a phone and for managing my corporate inbox, although I do use the HTC device for this purpose too.

I am very impressed with the operating system and the device itself; here are my seven favourite Windows Phone 7 features, so far:

  1. I never need to see a duplicate contact card again
  2. The Metro styled user interface is very clean
  3. Live Tiles – active content, such as “number of unread e-mail items” or “number of unread text messages”
  4. Next appointment, date, time, unread e-mails, voicemails and missed calls “on top of the curtain” (when the phone is turned on, the curtain is down – the screenshot on the right demonstrates the curtain)
  5. There is a camera button on the phone. This is great for getting the camera application running without having to power on then tap on a couple of icons to get to the camera.
  6. It’s fast. Very fast. What with all the animations that are going on, you might expect some drag. I find the whole phone experience very snappy.
  7. Its simplicity and its wealth of configuration options. Each of the tiles that you see in the screenshot above (the curtain is up) can be turned on or off. Applications and ‘people’ can be pinned to the home screen as a tile. Pinning family members to the home screen is particularly useful, two taps and I can be sending a text or returning my wife’s calls.

So I am a convert, I’ve joined the smartphone fraternity. I am pleased that I resisted the temptation to jump on the “i” or the “‘droid” or the “‘berry” bandwagon. If you’re in the market for a new device, I would urge you to go to your local store, push past the array of “other smartphones” and hunt out a Windows Phone 7 device. I’m so enthused by the device that I’ve signed up for the developer programme – I’ll be taking my .net development experience from the desktop and the web over to Windows Phone, apps coming soon!

All of this Windows Phone 7 “goodness”, gets even better with the Mango update that should be shipping during “the fall” of 2011.