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!
You have raised some very important issues in this post. They are very serious issues and need to be strongly addressed by Microsoft and their partner ecosystem. It is very sad to see that the marketing machine behind the Windows Phone has not been in full flow. We must bear in mind however, that this is a nascent ecosystem and that transformations do not occur overnight.
Given the fact (OK in my opinion!) that the Windows Phone is by far the most fluid, compelling and productive smartphone available on the market today, it should by extension be the easiest for salespeople to get excited about and actively promote. As a former salesman I know how easy it is to influence consumer opinion, I also know that great products make great salespeople. I can only explain the current situation by making reference to the Nokia deal. It seems to me that the market has been simmering in the background awaiting the release of the Nokia devices. When the Nokia devices hit the market it is likely that the marketing machine will swing into full force and we will see a transformation in the current state of the ecosystem. The Windows Phone and the Nokia (HTC, Smasung, LG) devices will become extremely sexy and cool devices to own. The deeper integration with top-class productivity applications like Microsoft Office, Nokia Maps and so forth will represent an extremely compelling choice both for consumers and enterprise.
The other week I passed by the Nokia showcase outlet in Heathrow airport, the devices on show looked extremely impressive. When they release the first Nokia devices the combination of the best hardware and the best software in the world will engage sales forces worldwide, these devices will be flying off the shelves! I also imagine that they will be getting a much higher degree of exposure in the general media than has been the case up to now.
As a former iPhone user, I have to say that my Windows Phone experience has been overwhelmingly positive, even against such stiff competition. I am absolutely convinced that my HTC HD7 is the best smart phone I have ever owned. I am very much looking forward to my next device which I have already decided will be a Nokia. For many years I was a user of Nokia devices and I was always very pleased with the robustness and quality of their construction. I can’t wait to combine this with the advanced Windows Phone operating system, development tools, and who knows maybe even some Windows 8 goodness in due course!
From a software development perspective, I can personally see the advantages of the Microsoft development toolset. I truly believe that these are the best quality and most productive toolsets available in the market. The current excitement in the development community behind Windows Phone, Windows 8 and the Microsoft ecosystem in general is truly justified. Stealing the marketing slogan from one of our trusted High Street phone brands “The future is bright, the future is Orange!”
Roll on Build!
This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last week.I liked it!