Windows investigate

Xphone: How Microsoft could have won in mobile in 2011

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 is a solid product that suffered from one fatal flaw: The burden and baggage of the Windows brand.

Windows Phone 7 is the best product Microsoft has built in a very long time.

Of course, building a great product -- it could even be the best product in its category -- never guarantees success. Microsoft benefited from that dynamic in the 1980s and 1990s when its operating systems were never the best software on the market but prevailed as the dominant platform in personal computing.

Timing, key partnerships, sales savvy, even geography can play an important role in a product winning a big share of the market. Oh, and one other factor: branding.

I'd argue that the number one factor that has torpedoed Windows Phone 7 is branding.

We talked a lot about this earlier this week in the ZDNet Great Debate that I moderated between Matt Miller and Larry Dignan over the future trajectory of Nokia and Windows Phone 7.

The bottom line is that Windows Phone 7 has been dismal failure in 2011, failing to even take a meager 2% of the smartphone market. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has admitted that Windows Phone 7 sales have been a disappointment and recently changed the leadership of the division.

While Ballmer and the rest of the tech industry have puzzled over why more people aren't buying Windows Phone 7 devices, the answer is almost too obvious to consider. The biggest thing that's wrong with Windows Phone 7 is Windows.

One of the reasons people love smartphones and tablets so much is that they aren't as complicated and confusing as the Windows computers that they've been using for years. Other than the small-but-rabid cadre of Windows enthusiasts, most people shudder when they think about having a phone that runs like Windows. The last thing they want is a device that locks up for no apparent reason, gradually gets slower over time, and is constantly getting bogged down by spyware, malware, and crapware.

Of course, Windows Phone 7 doesn't have any of those desktop Windows problems, but the burden and baggage of the Windows brand has brought the factor of guilt by association. The fact that Microsoft's earlier mobile attempt -- Windows Mobile -- was slow and confusing also doesn't help.

If Microsoft had jettisoned the Windows brand from its mobile product line, the devices could have competed on their own merits and attracted a lot more buyers. After all, the operating system itself is fluid and self-evident. It runs quickly and has a high-quality app ecosystem that is growing by leaps and bounds.

Imagine if Microsoft had followed its Xbox strategy and given the phone its own branding. In fact, Microsoft could have drawn on the popularity of the Xbox and used the name "Xphone" (which would have also playfully mocked Apple's "iPhone" a bit). The "Xphone" would have been better than "Xbox Phone" because not everyone is a gamer and a phone also needs to be able to do get work done -- which Windows Phone 7 does (especially if you already use Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft SharePoint), even though the device is primarily aimed at consumers. The "Xphone" would have been shiny and new, instead of looking like Microsoft trying to squeeze its way back into the market after the failure of Windows Mobile.

The other big problem Windows Phone 7 had was that its big hardware partners, Samsung and HTC, didn't take it seriously and ended up putting WP7 on their second class Android hardware. That's why Microsoft had to make the salty $1 billion deal with Nokia to get at least one big phone maker putting Windows Phone 7 on their most innovative hardware designs. However, Samsung, HTC, and Motorola (which passed on Windows Phone 7) certainly sensed that consumers weren't going to get excited about the Windows brand on a phone. Better branding like "Xphone" could have energized them.

I'm not saying that Microsoft would have leapfrogged Android and iPhone in 2011, but better branding could have turned a solid mobile product into a hotter commodity with phone makers and mobile carriers and grabbed at least 5-10% of the growing smartphone market.

Also, keep in mind that Microsoft will be heavily promoting the Windows brand when it launches its tablet strategy in 2012 with Windows 8. In fact, the success or failure of Windows 8 on tablets will be one of the most important things to watch in the tech industry in 2012. Unfortunately, the fate of Windows Phone 7 in 2011 could be a bad omen for Microsoft. Again, one of the main things people like about tablets is that they aren't PCs -- specifically Windows PCs. It's hard to imagine many people getting excited about "going back to Windows" on a tablet. But, Xtablet? That might have been a different story.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

131 comments
AleMartin
AleMartin

... that Microsoft is going to dump most of it for WP8. Maybe it was the best thing from Microsoft in years but the question is - is it good enough?

gerritk
gerritk

With good marketing, you can sell a fridge to an Eskimo. Microsoft should equally focus on both the product, as well as marketing of it.

realvarezm
realvarezm

My title says everything, people are aware of new, cheap and better products. MS shows the same sickness that every corporation have. Greed and bullying. Exxon, Ford, TWA, Enron and so on. Were organizations to greedy and focused on obscene earnings for their holders. In time this kind of behavoiur creates bad karma (no the spiritual kind) and altough the organization is skyrocketing in earnings its degrading the image and perception that their clients had. And everybody knows the rest. In my point of view MS is late for the mobile market and will never equal the succes they had in PC. Plus they already lost the battle at the big datacenter field too. Zune and list goes on. The only thing that is still a big product for them is XBox and pray their cloud solution doesnt get shadowed by amazon and all of the other options.

myangeldust
myangeldust

Question for all: are the Xphones... er, Windows Phones bigger or smaller than iPhones?

ITOdeed
ITOdeed

Most of the people I talk to say things like, "Windows makes things unnecessarily complicated for the sake of making things complicated." And, "Computers are supposed to make things simple." I think people are afraid to invest their hard earned money in something that has a reputation of being too complicated. Things may seem simple to those of us who do computer consulting for a living, but most people don't do consulting for a living.

halremawa
halremawa

Is it me or has everyone forgotten Kin, Zune?

richcobrien
richcobrien

Sorry Justin, pretty much opinion and propaganda. WP7 changes everything. For the 1st time EVER, you don't have to request by clicking or typing anything. The apps tile automatically update and deliver info to you just by looking at it.

tthomson
tthomson

There are certainly positives and negatives as with any OS or product, but I've found, overall, my WP7 phone (Samsung Focus) to be more versatile than the iPhone my office gave me to use for busines. It could use some more apps that iPhone has and WP7 (Mango) doesn't, but I find it interfaces with my MS Office applications much better. Of course there is always room for improvement and I'm absolutely NOT a rabid MS fanboy. That being said, Jason H. is absolutely right about the branding issue. I say they could go ahead and re-brand now (maybe Jason could get some $$ for his "Xphone" idea). Consumers have notoriously short attention spans and memories.

lburch2008
lburch2008

So, what you're saying is that Microsoft has designed and built a really great, innovative phone that "could even be the best product in its category." But i-lemmings who are shopping for phones are being influenced by their anti-Microsoft or pro-Jobs biases and buying inferior products. So rather than focusing your "sanity check" on the consumers that don't know great when they see it, trying to offer some enlightening guidance so consumers will stop making bad decisions, you're just piling on with a dose of anti-Microsoft "they-should-have-marketed-it-differently" propaganda. So, what's your bias?

robin.couzins
robin.couzins

The simple truth is Microsoft have entered this market far too late. Apple, Android and to a certain extent Blackberry are so far ahead with their "apps" offerings that you can have the best phone in the world, but if you can't reach the majority it will be doomed to fail. You only have to look at the apps available, compared to everyone else!! It has nothing to do with branding in my opinion.

myangeldust
myangeldust

Given (or taking) the opportunity this is what a smartphone should be: 1. Voice controlled. Everthing about it should react to your voice. Volume, calling, appointments, call blocking, texting, browsing, everything. And it talks back! 2. Use the simplest (WP7) user interface by default. But customizable for the experience user. We're talking button sizes, shapes, colors, images, and placement. 3. Unlocked. Every phone should work with every service in that category. If possible, offer more expensive phones that can use non-SIM tech and vice-versa. 4. User-switchable GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi for all phones. The phone should go from pocket brick to thumbdrive/streaming device with a spoken command. 5. Offer phones in different sizes. There should be iPod Nano- and Shuffle-sized phones for those who don't need cat-video tablets. (#1-4 above apply to these too.) 6. Male and female styles. Girls outside Tokyo's Harajuku scene SHOULD get a phone that's ask pretty as they are. And name them following American car brands (Malibu), not German (SL300).

JJFitz
JJFitz

The Windows name has the reputation promoted mostly by Apple, bloggers, and late night comedians as a slow and clunky product. While I disagree that Windows fully deserves that stigma, (they don't make the hardware) the fact of the matter is that the average consumer has accepted that notion. Microsoft should have decided to get out from under that yoke and call their smartphone OS something else. In my opinion, the name "Xphone" is not a good alternative. The competition will have a field day with that name. I can see the commercials already. "Oh, that's my (e)Xphone." Call it the NextPhone. - anything but the Windows Phone or the XPhone. :)

RonaldO@OrtronInc.com
RonaldO@OrtronInc.com

Jason makes a good point that MS should be researching. Vista damaged Windows reputation so that everyone came to realize that MS quality has been a problem for many years in many (not all) of its products. The iphone and ipad further weaken the Windows brand as lacking vision toward the future. Still the investment in software and training for Window by high-tech users and businesses will prevent a much faster migration to tablets. This provides an advantage for MS. MS has maybe 2 years to leverage its legacy Windows advantage. A tablet (or phone) that runs Window 7 and Metro could mean, if done right, one device as a combined PC/tablet. A user could continue with existing Windows software and migrate to new cloud based software over time. With the quad processor coming to phones next year, can a single device for PC/phone be far behind? Better yet, you could dock your phone at the office or home to attach a wide screen monitor, keyboard, USB drive. No more toting a PC, tablet and phone on trips.

cito
cito

when windows phone 7 didn't have support for tasks in exchange (only reason i bought the thing to try) I finally made the switch from one note/outlook tasks to straight up evernote. Now i can share with MAC people on evernote, and everything has been great. windows 7.5 upgrade broke my evernote on the phone. i now bought android and ipad and never going back. selling my microsoft stock as well. so long Balmer, you screwed it up for me for good this time.

tommy
tommy

I had an HTC Windows Mobile phone some time ago and it was, as Jason accurately describes, a device that locked up for no apparent reason and gradually gets slower over time. I never had any problems with spy ware, but aside from the reliability issues, the interface was pretty clunky. When a friend of a friend showed me his HTC Desire I was blown away, and I've been a big Android fan ever since. As a result of my experience, I would feel very reticent about buying another Windows based phone. I'm currently of the opinion that, while I'm a fan of Windows on the desktop/laptop, windows on phones doesn't work well. I'll be interested in seeing what Windows 8 looks like on mobile devices. I've been playing with the developers preview for a few months now, and I've found it to be swift and reliable even in it's beta form. The Metro interface on a desktop is dreadful, but on a tablet it might work. The advantages of having easy interoperability across platforms is an obvious advantage too. But even if Windows 8 works out really well, and on a tablet it may rock, I think Android or iOS will make a better O/S for a phone.

fjp
fjp

I like 'Xphone' - that would have made a difference. MS has two left feet when it comes to naming stuff, though - Zune, Bing, etc, and it likes 'Explorer' so much it uses it all over!

seanferd
seanferd

They finally got their act together with a decent agency or something, because the spot wasn't horrible. I'd swear that MS must take some sort of creative control over these things, because they have been consistently bad in weirdly similar ways since day one, like they were all the produce of a tightly knit group of B-movie directors from the same school. Maybe this time MS didn't take so much control over the advertising? I have no idea, but that is how it seems to me. It was good to see one decent bit of promo from Microsoft. Even if it isn't going to suck me in.

sub_techrep
sub_techrep

While I have no doubt that there is a percentage of the population who would avoid a "Windows" branded phone just because of the brand, I doubt that this is the actual cause of WP7 doing so badly in 2011. When considering this issue, I believe there is a distinction to be drawn between the consumer and business marketplaces and I think it's an over simplification to treat them as one. Given that MS had a loyal and significant customer base in the business community with WMx.x, they actually had a starting position for a percentage of the market and have, apparently, lost part of that through a strategy which was short-sighted. I would suggest that WP7 did so badly in 2011 for a number of reasons: 1) Because WP7 did poorly in 2010 and 2009, that is, it was late to market; 2) Because MS tried to aim at the consumer market where there was already stiff competition and a problem with perception of the product; 3) Because MS ignored their existing customer base, the business users, who should have been targeted for "upgrades" since most people upgrade their phones every couple of years or sooner; 4) Because MS ignored their partners, especially the small ones, who are a huge unpaid sales force with the ability to connect with millions of customers on a more personal level than MS can; 5) Because MS ignored the independent developers and declined to provide them with timely access to the correct tools in order to create the replacements for software that ran on WM6.5 but won't run on WP7; 6) Because MS was unable to convince the makers of some of the best phones to build versions of them that would run WP7. Who wants to buy a WP7 device with a 5mp camera when their friends have 8mp cameras? 7) Because MS didn't market their phones cleverly. Having a simulator on the web is all well and good but Apple was advertising on TV and reaching millions of people every day rather than hoping that those millions would come and look at their web site. Yes, "Windows Phone 7" is not a cool name and might be off-putting because of branding (although "Xphone" might be a little bit "twee") but is the name really the reason why the device didn't get traction in 2011 or was it other poor marketing decisions?

crimsonxt
crimsonxt

I don't think the problem is in the branding. While that may be an issue, I think the primary problem is Microsoft targeted the wrong market: general consumers. With all of the success they have had in the corporate space, why did they choose to go after the consumer market? In the corporate world, compatibility is everything. Currently, nothing on the market gets it quite right. Blackberry had decent compatibility, but a horrible interface (IMHO). iPhone and Android appear to be getting better on the compatibility thing (mainly due to third party tools), but they could never compete with a native windows device, should there be one. If they had the corporate user in mind, they would have made a lot of features default, such as remote desktop, the new "beaming" functionality, etc. They could have easily trumped all of the competition in the corporate market, basically stealing it away from Blackberry, the outbound incumbent. Instead, people are trying to make do with iPhone and Android, which do not serve nearly as well in this arena as WP7 *could*. Of course, if they managed a take over of the corporate market, it would certainly bleed over into the consumer market. At least then they would have enough presence in the market to actually matter.

blarman
blarman

A bigger problem was that of application support. Even today, compare application support from Apple and Android to that of Microsoft Windows Phone and its no wonder developers have mostly avoided it. Couple that with the fact that you can't port an application to the Windows Phone - you have to completely re-write it. If you have to re-write an application from scratch, you're going to go for the big market - another place where Microsoft failed. Microsoft waited so long to get into the market, they have a long road trying to persuade app developers to create anything for the Windows 7 phone. And given that most people already have either the iOS or Android devices, which are they going to choose to start from scratch on? The ones with market share and device familiarity. I'm not counting Microsoft out, but they've certainly put themselves in a sizable hole.

ohms
ohms

Sorry, I am not going to pity Microsoft and its "what it could be". I have held every portable , and phone device from CE up to win 5, and I gave up. I kept the devices in pristine shape, and yet it crashed so badly that it became junk within 9 months to a year. My Garmin-Asus which I thought was the most interesting choice for its functions, crashed to a point the service centre guy from Asus asked me to pay $300 to have it repaired becuz it was just out of warranty. As long as MS does not build from ground up and remove its legacy, I will never touch a MS-based phone, EVER. To the bosses in MS, if you ever read this, build it with passion, and not with the fact you sit on a ton of money and an insanely derived budget to get THE pie in the market.

dlbrumfiel
dlbrumfiel

Windows 7 is great if you haven't move to it you need too, windows phone 7 is also great and even better with 7.5. I have used an andriod and an Iphone and they too are great but unless you are an avid OSX or linux user most of us use windows in some form or another and WP7 falls right into place with the rest of the things most of us already use so why hasn't it been adopted by the manufactures and the carriers, they have limited the choices available. I was going to hold out upgrading my WM6.5 untill a Nokia WP7 become available here, but was offered a trade-in equal to the cost of a WP7 and it included 25.00 app card so I am now the proud owner of a HTC Radar and good luck prying this out of my hands. I could have choose any other phone but wanted something that would go with what I was already using = windows Everyone prodded Apple to open the Iphone to multiple carriers, and they do their own manufacturing, so I would blame the manufactures for not getting on board with WP7 and the carriers for not promoting it. P.S. Windows 8 looks very promising (Glorified media center) and will go with WP7 like a well fit glove.

GreyGeek77
GreyGeek77

A few years ago Microsoft had a 15% share of the mobile market. Now it has 2%, and falling. It hasn't dropped that far because people weren't aware of Microsoft's offerings, or they didn't know of the advantages claimed for them. Microsoft's market share dropped because they lost the consumers who were already using their product and didn't like it, for what ever reasons, and they were not able to attract replacement or new customers with what they were offering. It's not a matter of money. During that time it has spent over $500 Million advertising Windows phone, putting that ui all over TV and the Internet. It has captured several smartphone equipment makers, causing one, Nokia, to swap a 30% market share for one of 2%. It's not all bad for Microsoft though. Using their lawyers, NDAs, and bogus patent claims they were able to extort $500M in "license fees" from small fry using Linux and manufacturers installing Android on their products. That gravy train is coming to an end, however. Barns & Nobel exposed the weakness of their IP claims and their use of NDAs to cover up such weak claims, and now that Google is about to purchase Motorola, Google and Microsoft will be going toe to toe in court to see if it is a bully or a thief at fault. Meanwhile, cheer up all you MS fanbois... after all, Microsoft can loose only 2 more percentage points. If it does that it will be out of the market altogether.

tech_ed
tech_ed

There are three issues where Microsoft failed on the WP7.x 1) Go into *ANY* store that sells cellphones...*NONE* of them will have a live demo for the WP7.x phone. Heck, none of the employees will have a live WP7 phone for you to even look at. The problem here is that the iPhone and Android phones are basically similar, so looking at one, you basically know how the other works. Not so with the WP7. This is a completley different approach. As such, people aren't going to give two years to a phone that they may not like...Microsoft needs to make sure that every venue that sells WP7 phones has a live demo for people to see how it works. 2) In introducing the WP7 phone, Microsoft essentially abandoned the corporate user. They threw away their existing customer base by producing a consumer level phone that is actually hostile for corporate user to actually use. See item 3 below for details on this... 3) The WP7 phone lacks essential functionality that every other phone offers...as an example...there is no VPN-PPTP or LTP available for the WP7 phone. This essential security functionality is a requirement for corporate users. Most company security policies require that all wireless communication to corporate servers be done over VPN. You can't do this with WP7. In fact, from some programmers I've read, there isn't even hooks into the TCP stack for 3rd parties to even write a VPN client. These three things are essentially the trifecta of fail! I know that in the company I work for, none of the 256,000 employees employed by my company use the WP7 phone (I run the email system so I know what people are using to connect to our mail system) I suspect that the vast majority of other corporate users are doing the same!

mickeypf
mickeypf

I bought a heavily discounted LG E900 with latest Windows phone 7 OS as a spare phone for my family. At about the same time I asked my co-workers in the office whether they would buy a Win Phone - and every one said - No Way - too stodgy, old hat etc etc. I got 2 or 3 comments to the effect that LG would have been dumping their Win 7 phone offerings because they weren't selling - hence the cheap price. I took the LG phone into the office and moved it past the opening screen, and then started showing some of my co-workers the browser, email, texting etc. Without me saying anything, they all commented that the screen quality, responsiveness, ease of use etc all seemed to be on a par with their Apple 4 phones, and the LG actually beat one of their Apple 4's in downloading a web page over the office wifi - much to everyone's surprise. If they had called it XOS or something similar - it wouldn't have the marketing drag that the Windows brand has.

Baruch Atta
Baruch Atta

people love smartphones This is news to me because I don't. Not only are smartphones irritating, frustrating, and hard to use, they are maddeningly inconsistent in the user interface. The desktop PC is your friend - easy to use, and responsive.

J.C.Alexandres
J.C.Alexandres

I actually see Microsoft evolving in the phone market, there are a lot of manufacturers using Windows Mobile in their devices, so yes, the Windows 7 phone didn't do that great this year, but it is a living example of Microsoft being committed to that market. I am agree, branding may be the key, as many Microsoft haters will not buy a device that brands Microsoft/Windows on it. I personally use a Treo device by Palm, the T850E is a great device and runs on Windows Mobile, it gets the job done! The same as it took some time for Microsoft to "mature" in the browser market, it will eventually put a great phone device out there, it is just a matter of time and market momentum.

david.satchell
david.satchell

All they have to do is price their product so low that they are loosing money and undercut everything on the market by 50%. Do that for one year while advertising the low price and how it will be only until X date. That will put the product in a lot of hands, everyone will be talking about it, Microsoft can afford it, and it will repair their phone reputation if the product is that good. Done.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... when Microsoft first announced Windows on tablets and mobility devices. You saw how well it went then.

dave.everitt
dave.everitt

This article is so far off the mark, as are the responses. I would guess that the frenzy of belief in the Apple world or the Android market or some such is causing a belief system to be developed that is based on perception rather than any reality. The value is in what is delivered to the end user, in all products in all markets. The value is not the hardware vendor, not the operating system, not even the marketing (as any major will tell you that is about awareness and product fit). Its actually about the Application, now rather amusingly call the App (as it had to be a TLA otherwise its not technology) and many moons ago was called "the software". The success of Blackberry (not the one with a phone, or a phone and a camera, but the original) was simply that it was Outlook (Exchange based) in your pocket. The adoption was huge, without a real competitor. In fact many would say they still do not have a real competitor in the secure, Exchange based delivery of email. The success of Apple, the ease of use, the ability to add Apps, iPod (OK iTunes) music and the ability to market the ease of use. The success of Android, the price that comes with the multi-platform nature and providing many of the ease of use, ability to add Apps, carry music, etc. without being beholden to one vendor. However, none of these are the killer app, although BB Outlook comes close. In my blog, elementum-evelor.com I describe the history of Apple, the IBM PC, Visicalc, MS DOS and Lotus 1-2-3. The time from Apple to Microsoft (OK, Apple to IBM PC) was 5 years, and then the business market all adopted the killer app, Lotus 1-2-3. The addition of spreadsheet and word processor caused the IBM PC to accelerate away from the crowd. Linux appeared, but without the killer app has bounced around as a web-server, an embedded platform and finally reappered as Android. Yet no killer app. If the business world adored Outlook on a mobile device from RIM, how will they take to being able to have Outlook, Excel, Word and Powerpoint on any device, any form factor, and platform. I predict, when MSFT get it right, that this is the killer app in the cloud. Its the Outlook client that RIM had, but with the rest of the pieces everyone is missing. To align with the history of the PC, MSFT have 5 years, if I am right with my math we are in year 3 or 4 right now, so they have to 2013. Now, IBM provided the circuit diagrams in the back of the manual. That enabled Compaq and a host of others to copy, and with MS DOS they could be platform compatible with IBM and so also run Lotus 1-2-3. Windows 8 Mobile, with Office365 is a killer combination. The value to the business community will be compelling. Apple, have always had proprietary OS with proprietary hardware and been challenged to get the App base in place to secure the volume. Android has the proprietary OS with a huge base of hardware so have half of the PC history in place, they are challenged to find the killer app. Google think its search, its not, although they do have a wonderful integration with search. RIM have a proprietary OS with proprietary hardware and for them moment have BBM to enable "free SMS text" communication between BB users. MSFT are behind, but have a proprietary OS with a huge base of hardware and coupled with Skype can take on BBM and with Office365 have the killer app. Its not over, for sure. However, unless the non-MSFT get smart they are going to be seriously challenged when the elephant in the room appears with the full solution. RIM are already giving away Office365 to SME's, Google do not see Google docs as a business grade tool, Apple ... well they do not need mass market, apparently, and so will leave it to MSFT to take it all again. As Santayana said ???Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it???

bobhurt
bobhurt

Principle #1 in creating, marketing, and selling: Find out what people do and don't need and want. As the article pointed out, people with no experience in any other OS DON'T NEED or WANT the bloat that made Windows slow, complicated, and unreliable. I still use Windows and still hate its mysterious background activities that I cannot control or set aside for the moment. Microsoft should have provided a Start-like GO button that foregoes all background processes for the one the user wants to run fast RIGHT NOW. Microsoft's obstinate insensitivity comes from not truly understanding that that the tool had better do what the user wants. To do that, product planners need only do a few simple surveys among people who DON'T LIKE WINDOWS or OFFICE for one reason or another. The way I see it, Microsoft punishes their customers with complexities and buggy operation, and I see no excuse for it. Thus, I, judging from history, bought a Samsung Android phone. As android becomes more popular, Google will continue shoving its paradigm in front of users in the form of ChromeOS which uses the Android-like "App Store" inside the Chrome Brower front end to UBUNTU, the home PC wold's most popular NON-Windows OS. I find its present incarnation too feature-limited for my taste, but then I think of the hundreds of millions of Android users, especially those who increasingly replace the home PC with the smartphone. The phone shows Chrome's app store, users talk to it to create messages, email, and notes, it does cut/copy/paste, and though keyboards exist for tablets, typing on the touchscreen has become ever less annoying. Something like that absolutely SCREAMS for a new name, ANY name... except Windows.

myangeldust
myangeldust

I saw those first WP7 ads on TV as I was considering getting my first smartphone. I loved the interface and features but hated the ancient, bulky hardware. The Windows brand neither pulled me in nor pushed me away. Though "Xphone" sounds cool. I currently use a iPhone 3GS that was given to me and it's locked to ATT so I'm stuck. I'd buy a Nokia Xphone tomorrow. My only issue is with hardware that's locked into a specific carrier. I need the freedom to find a better deal after my 2-year obligation. That's all I want!

sysop-dr
sysop-dr

They stated that the WM phones were too "computery" so they dumbed them down to the level of the iPhone and Android.

Mosblest
Mosblest

I just finished Jobs biography...powerful and simple like his mark on tech. One advice Jobs gives to Microsoft is to be the great software maker they can be! Metro OS has some of that greatness buried under a silly UI. They just aren't creative thinkers when it all boils down. They create many possibilities but very few concrete solutions. IOS on the other hand is beautiful, powerful and focused. It barely bends to do what users want and instead teaches a simple language to even the youngest user. MS is still thinking for example, keyboard, touch, pen, voice, facial recognition and on and on. The problem is that once you add all that stuff you have taken the focus away from fun and productive use. So if I were MS I would focus on two areas they can beat other firms in. Make software for IOS, Android, Window and Mac that is compelling, amazing and simple. For example Adobe needs competition, badly! Windows needs to pretty much get out of consumer electronics and focus on a powerful backbone, bullet proof enterprise solution. Simplify office (kill the ribbon) and make packages extensions for the nerdy power user. Create quality software that no one else has done well. Lastly, make a deal with Apple to use iOS on Nokia hardware as a new type of high tech open architecture aimed at corporations and the high tech crowd. The leverage would be to bundle Office in iLife as an enterprise edition. Oh yeah, put Balmer back in sales and distribution where he belongs.

jred
jred

I haven't even looked at them. It's a Windows phone. I probably would have at least looked at an Xphone. I mean, the XBOX is alright, and I hear they got rid of the red ring problem. I still would have been cautious, knowing it's a MS product, but I would have looked at it. The Motorola Droid may have been the best thing ever for Android. Even now, 99% of the people I ask say they have a "droid" phone, no matter what the make & model.

tkejlboom
tkejlboom

Why is it always one thing? 1 thing caused it to fail? 1 thing caused Apple to succeed? BS. Example of why just changing the name isn't enough: Zune.

myangeldust
myangeldust

Consider that Xbox jumped into a field dominated by Sony and Nintendo. Soon Nintendo lost its market share and had to put out the Wii and still haven't done as well as they once did. You can enter a field late and still come out on top if the product is right. Xbox barely lost followers when their boxes began overheated. People still lined-up, iPhone-style, to buy the new Xbox! Separate Xune or Xblaster and Xphone from the Microsoft brand in the marketing of the product and the same can be done with media players and smartphones. If people associate MS and Windows with crashing then drop that from the TV ad.

myangeldust
myangeldust

NextPhone sounds like something Steve Jobs would've used when he created his NeXT corporation. Xphone (small p) would be in line with the Xbox brand. Xbox being MS's most successful brand. It could also be why Zune didn't make it. Instead of being associated with something like Xbox they connected it to MS. What the iPod is to hipsters, the Xblaster (formerly Zune) could have been for gamers. Especially if you stream music to your Xbox while playing.

fishystory
fishystory

'Xphone' does sound like 'eXPhone'. NextPhone could be dangerous too as Steve Jobs founded NeXT Computers in the late 80s, after a falling out with John Sculley. Perhaps MyPhone or MPhone (Microsoft Phone), though I must admit that finding a brilliant product name is no easy task. I was thinking of Wring ('Windows ring'), however 'wring' could imply that the phone is perfect for 'squeezing or twisting' when frustrated with it :P

DJMorais
DJMorais

MS marketing is horrible at best. There isn't a darn thing wrong with Mango. In fact in many ways it's superior to Android or iWhatever. I wanted to get one when my trusty Omnia 2 finally died after years of reliable service, but I just didn't like the HTC hardware that it came on. And like others that have posted here, all the reps at the Verizon store kept telling me "oh, you don't want that one, that is a Windows phone"... and kept steering me over to the droids, which I hate. I ended up getting the Stratosphere, which is turning out to be a darned good phone and had the latest Android OS on it (It was Gingerbread at that time, not Ice Cream Sandwhich). But if I could have gotten better H/W, I would have bought the WP7.5 phone for sure. What cracked me up was all of the iSheep that were lined up out the door waiting to either return or replace their broken iphones. But everyone is going to see things the way they want to see them. I just feel that if MS would bring better H/W to the table and do something about their crap marketing, they would have a much better showing in the market place. We'll see what the future brings.

myangeldust
myangeldust

Apple's tablet took off because there was already a fanbase for the iPod. Thanks to design the iPad was looked upon as a bigger iPod. The same zombies who lined up for one did so for the other. Windows tablets had no existing fanbase as Microsoft and HP are not a single company or brand image.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

People don't know what they want until it's in front of their faces. That's why so many 'research panel' design concepts have failed so abysmally over the years. Never survey. Never 'guess'. Come up with your own concept, make it work right, then release it to the masses. They'll decide whether they want it or not.

Fletchguy
Fletchguy

Im sorry your stuck with an iphone since the current iphone is so far behind in technology but even that old 3G just unlock it and jailbreak it so its half way usable. If you dont know how to unlock just google it and for like $3 you can have the code sent direct to you with directions takes about 3 minutes to do yourself or 30 minutes to buy a code.

Baruch Atta
Baruch Atta

Didn't Microsoft loan Apple $150 million in 1997 to keep Apple from bankrupcy? So, doesn't Microsoft own Apple?

myangeldust
myangeldust

Sometimes you need to sell cheap econoboxes to keep your awesome flagship model. Xbox and other hardware endeavours, that sell, help pay for other things that work well but not as popular.

JJFitz
JJFitz

1. Too late to market. 2. Not significantly different from existing players.

myangeldust
myangeldust

Or are there more non-Apple MP3 players? If they sell more than iPod then they're doing it without major marketing. I looked at Zune because it could play music and was cheaper than the iPod. But alas when I looked for hardware to connect it to my car's stereo all of the "smart" connectors only worked with Apple products. The name "Zune" had no effect on me whatsoever. Accessory support did.

Fletchguy
Fletchguy

You obviously have no concept of marketing lol. You always survey and run focus groups and beta tests. You offer up new ideas and ask what would the user like included then mix and match to build in new features that were requested whilekeeping ideas users already use and want. You need a very very basic marketing class to get the basic elementary understanding of marketing and R&D lol

myangeldust
myangeldust

I've done that. Had it jailbroken a few times and it was unstable. It was WindowsMe-level instability. Locking non-proprietary hardware to a specific service provider is verging on monopoly. It's like buying cars that will only accept gasoline from specific oil companies.

myangeldust
myangeldust

MS bought non-voting shares in Apple to help prop them up. It may have help MS to avoid anti-trust suits in the future if they were the "sole" software provider in the market. I believe those shares have been sold off.

Fletchguy
Fletchguy

Well mp3 players are for the most part dead as smartphones have replaced them. the zune in everyway was far superior to the ipod. looks zune software, abilities price and durabilities..The issue was poor advertising which Microsoft just doesnt know how to do. I still use my original zune and my Zune hd as the zune software is o much better then itunes. To have it connect in my car i just bought a wireless fm transmitter from ebay for $8. there were few different verson avaliable

myangeldust
myangeldust

The only folks participating in focus groups are those too stupid to evade the mall-cruising lady with the clipboard. Beta testers are like Trekkies locked inside their parents basements and, by default, insane. Vulpine is partially correct. As Don Draper would say "tell the customer what they want". While secretly listening to customers in their "natural habitat". Hearing about their likes and dislikes and wishes. If you ask straightforwardly, the typical person would answer, "What do you think I should have?" The only thing focus groups gave us was an unnecessary voiceover on the theatrical release of Blade Runner.

myangeldust
myangeldust

The MP3 player is not dead and the smartphone is not the "one product to rule them all". No one is going to leave their mobile docked into someone's home stereo in the middle of a party. If they get a call, those party-ers are gonna riot. Folks got to have separate music players, camcorders, cameras, game players, etc. The smartphone isn't enough for specialized tasks, except if that task is telephony.