Carrier disinterest led to Windows Phone downfall, says former lead developer

GraniteStateColin

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Interesting about the carrier factor. I think we mostly assumed it was the infamous "app gap," but hadn't appreciated how that played into the sales efforts by the individual carrier salespeople. I suspect this becomes of declining importance as more and more people get their phones over the Internet. I assume it's not just me, but I've not bought a phone at a Verizon store in many, many years. I get new phones on Amazon or (with Duo's) from the Microsoft Store. I get my family used phones sometimes on ebay. I watch YouTube videos, like Mr. Mobile's and others for a diverse set of opinions (plus articles here on Windows Central and other good tech sites), to learn which phone will be best for me.

Technical note on posting this, Kevin Okemwa, I continue not to see any link to the comments in your articles. I do from other Windows Central authors, like Jez's articles usually have comment links for me. On this article I tried and your comment link was missing in both Edge and Firefox, but did appear in an incognito Chrome session. On further experimentation, it appears to be related to the uBlock Origin ad-blocker. If that's on, it blocks the ability to add comments to your articles, but not those by some of the other Windows Central articles. So, maybe this is by design to boost ad revenue (you guys need to make a living) or maybe you can see what Jez is doing differently with his comment links that they appear anyway.

I suspect a disproportionate % of Windows Central readers use uBlock Origin, because it's by one of the old Edge and Windows Store/Windows Phone app developers, so it was the big ad blocker on old Edge. Many of us probably just followed that forward to new Chromium Edge. Because Jez's links do show up, I assume he's positioning them differently with respect to the ads that follow articles. His positioning isn't blocked by uBlock Origin where yours is.
 

GraniteStateColin

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I see MS is working on improvements to the Xbox app for Windows to work better on small form factors. Obviously there's a lot more to mobile than gaming, BUT if MS comes at mobile from an angle of gamers + productivity (Office), that's a valid and not insignificant niche market. It might still be relatively small, but with the unique strengths they could bring, it would be loyal. From there they could add user groups in small incremental steps without the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head: reach app parity immediately or die.

Classic Crossing the Chasm marketing growth per Geoffrey Moore when breaking into a market.
 

TheFerrango

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What about the rest of the world, where the carrier contract-with-a-phone was not the prevalent way people bought phones?

Oh right, it needs to be successful in the US for Microsoft to keep at it
 

naddy69

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Let's face it. No one was interested in Windows phones. Not carriers, not developers, not the general public and not Microsoft.

If enough people had wanted them, then everyone else would have become interested. They just did not sell in the volumes needed to attract interest from carriers, developers and Microsoft.

Which is the same issue the Surface Duos had. No sales, no future. It's called a failed product.

Lots of companies have failed products. Look up the Apple 3 computer if you want to see a terrible product that failed as spectacularly as Windows Phones. It's nothing to worry about. It happens.

Just move on. The companies that had the failed products certainly move on. Why folks here are still trying to figure out why Windows phones failed is a mystery to me.
 
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Cmndr_Bytes

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I loved my Windows Phone. If MS released a new one and it actually had a Windows OS and my company allowed it on their network I would be highly tempted to go back.
 

GraniteStateColin

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Let's face it. No one was interested in Windows phones. Not carriers, not developers, not the general public and not Microsoft.

If enough people had wanted them, then everyone else would have become interested. They just did not sell in the volumes needed to attract interest from carriers, developers and Microsoft.

Which is the same issue the Surface Duos had. No sales, no future. It's called a failed product.

Lots of companies have failed products. Look up the Apple 3 computer if you want to see a terrible product that failed as spectacularly as Windows Phones. It's nothing to worry about. It happens.

Just move on. The companies that had the failed products certainly move on. Why folks here are still trying to figure out why Windows phones failed is a mystery to me.
@naddy69 , that's all true about product failures, but then you jump to a somewhat bizarre conclusion, "Why folks here are still trying to figure out why Windows phones failed is a mystery to me."

While, yes, products fail and companies must move on, that doesn't mean there are no lessons to be learned from their failures. It's not a random function where the past has no predictive value for the future. They fail for reasons. Those may or may not be under the control of the company, but discussing and debating the causes of failure help to understand them and avoid the same pitfalls in the future. This applies both in cases where actions can drive future success (under the company's control) and where navigating the existing market to avoid even trying if market conditions preclude success (external factors not under the company's control).

Otherwise, your reasoning would have Newton have just said, "Ah an apple fell from that tree, but who cares why it fell?" Or military strategists to draw no conclusions from Napolean's victories and then his terrible defeat at Waterloo. To study, debate, and discuss past events, we sharpen our knowledge and insights for the future. It is curiosity and debate that elevate the state of human knowledge.

OK, maybe that's a bit grandiose for a simple Internet chat on a tech product, but the same logic applies to any subject of interest to the parties engaged in the discussion. If you have no interest in Windows Phone, it is similarly rational for you to avoid those discussions.
 

naddy69

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While all that sounds great, what did MS learn? Where is the Surface Duo today?

The point is, we know why Windows phones failed. They failed because they came from Microsoft. Microsoft is not a consumer products company. Apple is. Samsung is.

When people think Microsoft Windows, they do not think fun. Or ease of use. They think of what they use at work. The thing that is so complicated it takes an IT department to manage it. Thus, a Microsoft Windows phone is something that very few people want in their pocket.

Only computer geeks thought a Windows Phone was desirable. That’s great for the 1% of the population that are computer geeks. Most people do not want to become a computer geek to use a phone.

This is why Android exists. This is why iOS exists. Only computer geeks would buy a phone that runs your garden variety Linux distro. Or your typical Unix. That MS thought Windows was a great name for a phone OS was just stupid. The OS itself was fine, in fact it had lots of nice features. But it desperately needed a new, cute, catchy name. Z Mobile would have had a better chance than Windows Mobile.

But again, Microsoft is not a consumer products company. Thus, they have no clue how to market to consumers. Thus, all they could come up with was “Windows Mobile”. Thus, it was doomed from the start.

As for the Duo, that was just pointless. A horribly expensive Android phone with a horribly bad camera, when we are already up to our knees with cheaper Android phones with great cameras.
 
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GraniteStateColin

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While all that sounds great, what did MS learn? Where is the Surface Duo today?

The point is, we know why Windows phones failed. They failed because they came from Microsoft. Microsoft is not a consumer products company. Apple is. Samsung is.

When people think Microsoft Windows, they do not think fun. Or ease of use. They think of what they use at work. The thing that is so complicated it takes an IT department to manage it. Thus, a Microsoft Windows phone is something that very few people want in their pocket.

Only computer geeks thought a Windows Phone was desirable. That’s great for the 1% of the population that are computer geeks. Most people do not want to become a computer geek to use a phone.

This is why Android exists. This is why iOS exists. Only computer geeks would buy a phone that runs your garden variety Linux distro. Or your typical Unix. That MS thought Windows was a great name for a phone OS was just stupid. The OS itself was fine, in fact it had lots of nice features. But it desperately needed a new, cute, catchy name. Z Mobile would have had a better chance than Windows Mobile.

But again, Microsoft is not a consumer products company. Thus, they have no clue how to market to consumers. Thus, all they could come up with was “Windows Mobile”. Thus, it was doomed from the start.

As for the Duo, that was just pointless. A horribly expensive Android phone with a horribly bad camera, when we are already up to our knees with cheaper Android phones with great cameras.

Clearly, that's a set of distortions based on your personal opinions, and not on any data. The most hardcore "1% of computer geeks" you reference use Linux, which is what Android is based on. Windows may not be as locked down to protect users from themselves as Mac OS, but it's much easier and safer to use than Linux. So by your reasoning, where mobile success is tied to perceptions from the associated destkop OS, iOS would be the most successful mobile OS, with Windows Phone in second and Android in last place. None of those positions are correct. (Android is first, iOS second, and Windomws Phone never got above 3rd).

Reality is that the desktop version of the OS has little bearing on the mobile OS and vice versa. This is also why the success of Android has not caused a seismic shift away from Windows on the PC to Linux.

Android succeeded because it was more open and cheaper than iOS. iOS succeeded because it was first and very friendly and safe. Windows failed primarily because it was late to the party and didn't bring enough that was better than the alternatives to justify either developer or user effort to try something new. That's partially the same reason Palm Pre and WebOS failed (though WebOS might have made it, if Palm and then HP had been able to put enough of a budget behind it -- it could have taken the second to market slot that Android effectively claimed, but they just couldn't keep up with the rate of development for iOS and Android). Windows Phone did NOT fail because it was designed for techie geeks. There is zero data to support that position and, I would argue, significant data to support that wasn't even a significant factor.
 
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