Most articles written about Windows Phone have something good to say about WP. Without fail however, there’s a “but…” that inevitably prevails when speaking of the future. Windows Phone is on the rise and that is irrefutable. Is the growth fast/fast enough though? Instead of answering “no”, the rhetorical answer by most, I answer yes and will lay out why I think Windows Phone is without a doubt, is headed for prosperity. I’m going to paint a rosy picture based on common sense and lack of FUD(Fear Undue) for Windows Phone, 2014, and the future.
Now keep in mind, most of us who write or read tech articles are not the majority. I’m going to start by using sports as my parallel for a moment, the average fan vs. the super fan(fanboy, fangirl, or homer). Both can be guilty of perpetuating a much more grim and/or positive scenario than actually exists. I’ll admit that I fall into the perpetually positive category, sometimes looking past the grumbles and gripes.
Most of you know someone(I imagine for most of you that would probably be me) who loves the local sports team…or OS, more than everyone else. They know all the stats, own a ton of memorabilia, read everything related to that team, and hope to see a blowout every game. This person believes every season will result in 1st place and nothing else matters. Now this person isn’t the norm, however he/she certainly exists.
In addition to the super fan, some of you may also be familiar with the “Back Seat Driver” or “Couch Coach”. “You should’ve taken a left”, “How could you choose that defense with :45 seconds remaining”, or “You’re doing it all wrong”, are just some of the most common statements of these omniscient folks, who always claim to know everything. Now while these particular groups of super fans, backseat drivers, and couch coaches invariably ALWAYS know the correct answer and are quick to judge, they do not represent the majority. Most sit back and observe, allowing time to go by before shaping a definitive opinion on who or what is best…time.
The average fan or consumer(see the parallel) just wants to see a good game and might even route for several teams, depending on the players… or features(see what I did here).
Why is this important? These players and trends have a tendency to change, leading to increased parody in any market. Markets tend to suffer when there is a dominance of any one or two of anything over a period of time, that’s an economic fact across the globe. Parity prevails across every market whether TV, agriculture, technology, etc. I would attribute the need for parody to people’s natural empathetic nature. We love to route for the “little guy”, hence “Cinderella stories”, “sleepers”, or “dark horses”. At the moment, that is us WinPhan and Windows Phone owners…the early adopters. These are eye opening moments for most, therefore Windows Phone owners must be patient in the interim. Believe it or not, people are beginning to route for Windows Phone and hoping to get swept up in the growing excitement show by so many WinPhan and WP owners, to see if Windows Phone is right for them too.
Time, dedication, and a few bumps along the road are necessary to build a dynasty. And while this “time” might agitate the fans, it has proven to be the true key to success. Remember, Google was not always the giant it is today. There was a time where Google could only peek in the proverbial door between Microsoft’s and Apple’s pant leg. Growing from just a search engine to an OS, and then onto being the number 1 smartphone globally, look at Google now. I believe the same will be said for Windows Phone soon enough. I believe in Microsoft, I believe in their direction, and I believe there’s a lot more happening behind closed doors than you and I know about.
Being The Best:
Good, bad, or indifferent, it can be easy to get caught up in the importance of being the best or winning the race. For some, being number 2 just doesn’t cut it…let alone being number 3, 4, or 5…is there even a number 6!? This is a common syndrome for those who cave easily to FUD, fear undue. The real world has proven the ability to have success without being number 1, that’s just the cherry on top and as I talked about above, takes time to get there.
I’m from the old school of thought that says longevity will lead to the inevitable and stable ascension to an apex with anything and everything due to people’s curious nature. This mind set is generally not reflected by media or some of the more outspoken people online. Smaller and smaller time frames are given to accomplish more and more, which has created an unrealistic sense of timing for some. The best things in life are ALWAYS worth waiting for.
As for Windows Phone, what threshold must be crossed in order to lose the “in jeopardy” status many write about? Is it 5 gazillion apps? Realistically, is 10-15% global marketshare the necessary marker? If it happens because of an increased share in China will the same backseat drivers and/or couch coaches grumble because the US didn’t increase, or vice versa. Is it ever enough to just enjoy something for what it’s worth? How about the exact same UI as Android or maybe iPhone, those have been successful, right? Maybe it’s necessary to combine every feature and UI element contained by both Android and iPhone, that ought to dazzle all.
That’s just silly talk and I know. I believe it is those differences between the others, that will inevitably bring consumers from the other OS’ to Windows Phone. That takes time and patience for many reasons. One big factor is simple, as a matter of fact it’s one that I suspect will begin to reflect positively for Windows Phone growth very soon: Contracts. Now that WP has continued to gain interest, we must wait for many Android and iPhone owners to cycle their contracts that they may have upgraded over the past two years as Windows Phone continued to mature. Most tech pundits accounted for early WP adopters upgrading to newer WP’s but have been very outspoken in WP’s inability to bring over new converts. Now, with a greater acceptance and contracts up, I believe we will see a continued increase in marketshare.
Is It Necessary To Win:
The battle of top dog still remains between 2 competitors, Samsung(Yes, Samsung and not Google) and the iPhone, but how important is that title? It was momentous when the great Sammie stepped up and claimed global dominance, but has that effectively shutdown Cupertino and Apple? Obviously not, many companies can effectively continue to compete in this complex market and so can Windows Phone. The truth is that the average user fails to identify a predominant amount of key features unique to any one smartphone. I speak with people who still have trouble discerning that Motorola has a phone called Droid as opposed to the OS, which is Android. Many still struggle to correctly identify which device they have outside of “One of those Samsung Galaxies I think” and my favorite, “it’s an iPhone something or other…it doesn’t have LTE”. Again, if you’re reading this, that probably isn’t describing you…but you’d be surprised how many really will answer somewhere in that ballpark. What the average user recognizes are apps. Not EVERY app, just some specifics. Most importantly, whatever is deemed popular at that moment.
With more developers planning and creating for Android as opposed to iOS this year, it just goes to show that availability can change rapidly as well. Soon the tide will turn in Windows Phone favor as well, its already begun. Its the law of averages.
What truly drives sales though? A mix of time, apps, a unique feature or two, advertising, and availability are the key. All of these issues were addressed by Microsoft in 2013 and I fail to believe we won’t see the same sense of urgency in 2014. Did Microsoft manage to pull off building Rome in a day? No, but they made incredible strides in ensuring their ability to continue to compete in a mercurial market. They didn’t need to win in 2013, they needed to set the stage for 2014 and on. They’ve managed to stay alive and even show some signs of prosperity during a time where many haven’t.
People have claimed Windows Phone success is based solely on the backs of low cost devices and in emerging markets. I believe that to be good. I see this as the building blocks to a loyal userbase. A happy Lumia 520 user is likely to make the next step and upgrade to a higher cost Lumia after spending time learning their preferences. This is the type of healthy maturation and growth Windows Phone needs. Profit comes from high-end and that will happen but it takes time. Think of a 5 year business plan for example. You wouldn’t expect to make money in years 1-3. Now consider Windows Phone, in year 3, and in a position to begin showing the positive results of sticking it out.
I believe that Windows Phone’s success has already been written. The hard part is being patient enough to wait for it to arrive. I see the choices being made for Windows Phone as the proper ones and I’m extremely confident in the future! Microsoft is shaking things up, admittedly late to the dance, but fully vested in the process of transforming its image, products, and services.
Some may be scared to buy in to the excitement, weary of the past, I say embrace the now. Corners were not cut to appease immediate sells, leading to an impending doom. Instead, hard decisions were made in terms of design and in terms of the OS’ path. This has acted as the catalyst that will allow our Windows Phone to stamp its legacy as a device of longevity, not a one hit wonder.
These are exciting times to be in Microsoft’s ecosystem. Windows Phone is beautiful, it has an unlimited potential that is just now beginning to be tapped, and people are beginning to recognize the name as a real player in the smartphone industry. Great features are constantly being added, apps are coming, and devices keep getting better. Devs are finding interest in Windows Phone as well as other OEM phone makers, like we were promised by Microsoft. Some don’t trust Microsoft’s motivations or intentions, for me, the acquisition of Nokia’s device division is just another sign that Windows Phone and it’s users are truly going to receive the support it deserves. I’ve supported the rate at which updates have been received. Could they have been faster, maybe…but at what cost? In the end, it is patience and good decisions that propel a worthy product into the “safe” category. Windows Phone is not far away, not far at all.