Craig Murphy: author, blogger, community evangelist, developer, speaker

The Social Programmer

August 31st, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Smartphones: unbalanced exposure? [Part 1 of 2]

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

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!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
-