Why Microsoft's Mobile Efforts Failed

Scienceguy Labs

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I have to disagree on some of your points. There were smartphones with apps and onscreen keyboards long before the iPhone. I had a horrible example of one in the iPaq H6315. It had a 3-1/2" touchscreen and loads of comms. It's biggest drawback was it relied on GSM only, not even 2G (EDGE). This was in '04 and it's what lead me to get my first Treo (650). I gave up the screen real estate in favor of that wonderful keyboard and better apps.

The ONLY thing the 1st gen iPhone brought to the masses was a capacitive display. You couldn't even do MMS for Pete's sake. Considering it was an AT&T exclusive, Steve Jobs did an amazing "job" at convincing the world this was the only phone you'd ever need. The marketing of the iPhone was legendary and it did indeed change the mobile landscape, but it didn't create it. There were, arguably, better phones before and after.
Yeah, good points. I was speaking mainly from a largely ignorant standpoint on the subject, having never owned a smartphone of any kind until the Samsung Focus arrived. I guess Apple's marketing and push to the masses approach helped them tremendously. From what I understand, "smartphones" of that time period and before were largely enterprise-focused, which left a large segment of the population open for Apple's taking. It would have been great if Microsoft had seen that opportunity first.
 

Laura Knotek

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Yeah, good points. I was speaking mainly from a largely ignorant standpoint on the subject, having never owned a smartphone of any kind until the Samsung Focus arrived. I guess Apple's marketing and push to the masses approach helped them tremendously. From what I understand, "smartphones" of that time period and before were largely enterprise-focused, which left a large segment of the population open for Apple's taking. It would have been great if Microsoft had seen that opportunity first.
I agree. I used Nokia Symbian and Blackberry smartphones. The Nokia OVI Store was focused on enterprise apps. For example, I paid $30 for an Office-type app from a company called DataViz. Apple made the App Store affordable and offered apps that were made for fun, not just for work.
 

Doohickie

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My first phone was a WinPhone and I loved the OS, but jumped over to Android when I got my next phone due to lack of WinPhone apps. I'll be due for another phone this fall; is WinPhone basically dead or dying? Any change in the status of apps? I thought I heard of an architecture that would be able to run Android apps... anything to that?
 

Pete

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I don't think it's worth buying another Windows Mobile device, especially if you're a frequent app user.
 

fatclue_98

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I agree. I used Nokia Symbian and Blackberry smartphones. The Nokia OVI Store was focused on enterprise apps. For example, I paid $30 for an Office-type app from a company called DataViz. Apple made the App Store affordable and offered apps that were made for fun, not just for work.
Yep, Documents To Go. I bought it from DataViz for my Treos and my T/X way back when. I still have it on the PDA.
 

nate0

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My first phone was a WinPhone and I loved the OS, but jumped over to Android when I got my next phone due to lack of WinPhone apps. I'll be due for another phone this fall; is WinPhone basically dead or dying? Any change in the status of apps? I thought I heard of an architecture that would be able to run Android apps... anything to that?

Dying. Unless you are a Windows Phone enthusiast it is not worth it much to migrate over. If you do buy one (**note** They are much cheaper than even some of the midrange Android phones of today...) keep your Android device close buy.
 

AgentTheGreat

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I think the main reasons why Windows Phone isn't living today are pretty straightforward:

1) They got to the market significantly later than the competition: 3 years and 4 months too late, and by that time you've already lost. There is no doubt in my mind that if Microsoft came to the market with Windows Phone 7 around the same time Android was taking hold, they would have become the 2nd mobile platform as Android was a total mess for quite some time.

2) They never committed. In contrast with what Apple did, Windows on phones was never Micrsoft's primary focus. They missed the whole mobile thing, thinking Windows on PC will always rule. As a result, Windows Phone always played catch-up feature-wise, getting released for example with a single volume control, getting late to resolution and dual-core chipset wars and responding to criticism regarding its music player with empty "updates". They assigned a small team to phones and no amount of Nokia's marketing could make up for Microsoft's laziness in mobile.

As a thought experiment, go back in time and solve these two issues and try to imagine the outcome. See if Microsoft wouldn't have become a primary mobile player if they released Windows Phone 7 within a year of the original iPhone and focused their energy on making sure their platform had every feature you'd expect of a mobile device at that time.
 

Drael646464

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I think the main reasons why Windows Phone isn't living today are pretty straightforward:

1) They got to the market significantly later than the competition: 3 years and 4 months too late, and by that time you've already lost. There is no doubt in my mind that if Microsoft came to the market with Windows Phone 7 around the same time Android was taking hold, they would have become the 2nd mobile platform as Android was a total mess for quite some time.

2) They never committed. In contrast with what Apple did, Windows on phones was never Micrsoft's primary focus. They missed the whole mobile thing, thinking Windows on PC will always rule. As a result, Windows Phone always played catch-up feature-wise, getting released for example with a single volume control, getting late to resolution and dual-core chipset wars and responding to criticism regarding its music player with empty "updates". They assigned a small team to phones and no amount of Nokia's marketing could make up for Microsoft's laziness in mobile.

As a thought experiment, go back in time and solve these two issues and try to imagine the outcome. See if Microsoft wouldn't have become a primary mobile player if they released Windows Phone 7 within a year of the original iPhone and focused their energy on making sure their platform had every feature you'd expect of a mobile device at that time.

Hindsight is always 20/20. What if, under the current trend, smartphone markets continue to shrink, profits fall dramatically in the premium sector, and we decide apple overcommitted to mobile later on, and failed to diversity? It's an entirely possible scenario, to some degree even inevitable.

The vast wave that increasingly _was_, is only good if you can take the cash and catch the next one. Google has search, Microsoft games and business - both software and service businesses. Apple is a hardware company in part - if they are to even tread water, they have to not just win one round, but to win every round, forever. I don't know if I see that in them yet. Profitable - highly - but maybe a one trick pony? Google seems to be doing a better job at diversifying.
 

anon(50597)

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The vast wave that increasingly _was_, is only good if you can take the cash and catch the next one. Google has search, Microsoft games and business - both software and service businesses. Apple is a hardware company in part - if they are to even tread water, they have to not just win one round, but to win every round, forever. I don't know if I see that in them yet. Profitable - highly - but maybe a one trick pony? Google seems to be doing a better job at diversifying.

I do not claim to be an expert but will try my best to recreate, in simple terms, what Apple has done.
Developed (arguably) the first home computer when the big boys said “computers are for businesses, no one wants one in their home”.
Then developed the iPod.
Then the iPhone.
Then the iPad.
It seems they have done a fair job of moving from round to round pretty well. Will it continue forever? Probably not but they are certainly not a one-trick pony.
 

Drael646464

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The mac almost sunk their company. They were bailed out by bill gates and the return of their founder. I doubt it is considered the first home PC (apple 2 I mean - it was really around Amstrad, vic20, amiga all that that they home PC thing took off, and there were other home PCs before the apple II).

I won't disagree that they got on a roll from the ipod onwards, although all those ideas are relatively related in concept.

And perhaps they have other tricks up their sleeve yet. But what I meant was - their run away _financial_ success has been on the back of the iPhone. They wouldn't be the biggest consumer tech company in the world if they only had ipads and ipods and macs. 90 percent of their profit is from the phone alone. If they didn't have the phone they'd have 1/10th of the profit.

In order for them to be a tiny fraction of the relevance they have now, all that would need to happen is for the iPhone to lose popularity and sales without any new "iPhone mark 2", next big boom/wave product.

In fact the smartphone market boom, was sort of an economic and technological anomaly. Adoption for new tech is usually slower, often not quite as premium focused/faddish. It's usually more of a slow burn. Think of the computer or TV as an example.

It might be reasonable to expect that their is no next product that will produce as much short term profit as premium smartphones. Whether it be VR, AI, IoT, it might be reasonable to expect those are slower developers, take more time, and have less explosive financial returns.

And if that, as might be reasonable to assume, is the case - the fade of the smartphone boom, might be, financially, apples slow fade into "regular tech company" status, and they might need to start to behave more like an OEM, like say, LG or Samsung and make everything that can be made, rather than relying on cultural fashion impetus, tech widgets and consumer uptake.
 
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fatclue_98

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I do not claim to be an expert but will try my best to recreate, in simple terms, what Apple has done.
Developed (arguably) the first home computer when the big boys said “computers are for businesses, no one wants one in their home”.
Then developed the iPod.
Then the iPhone.
Then the iPad.
It seems they have done a fair job of moving from round to round pretty well. Will it continue forever? Probably not but they are certainly not a one-trick pony.
I don't consider them a one-trick pony either but their business model is scary to me since they hedge all their bets on the iPhone. They simply don't sell enough iPads and Macs to sustain themselves if something ever went wrong with the iPhone.

Samsung is much more diverse than Apple and they took a beating with the Note 7. Second hand prices have sent a clear message that their quality is not what it once was in the eyes of the buying public. There are a boatload of mint S8+ Galaxys out there for under $400. They were $850 at release less than a year ago.
 

Drael646464

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I don't consider them a one-trick pony either but their business model is scary to me since they hedge all their bets on the iPhone. They simply don't sell enough iPads and Macs to sustain themselves if something ever went wrong with the iPhone.

Samsung is much more diverse than Apple and they took a beating with the Note 7. Second hand prices have sent a clear message that their quality is not what it once was in the eyes of the buying public. There are a boatload of mint S8+ Galaxys out there for under $400. They were $850 at release less than a year ago.

Exactly. Google is over-reliant on search, but they put major effort into diversifying, and also that product would at least likely fade slower, were it to be replaced by something else. Apples reliance on the iPhone seems....almost niave. (Again, unless they have some vast, secret plans).
 

anon(50597)

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I don't consider them a one-trick pony either but their business model is scary to me since they hedge all their bets on the iPhone. They simply don't sell enough iPads and Macs to sustain themselves if something ever went wrong with the iPhone.

Samsung is much more diverse than Apple and they took a beating with the Note 7. Second hand prices have sent a clear message that their quality is not what it once was in the eyes of the buying public. There are a boatload of mint S8+ Galaxys out there for under $400. They were $850 at release less than a year ago.

I agree that is is a bit less diversified than others, but I wanted to point out their success in doing so. They seem to be able to either come up with the next best thing or perfect it. We’ll have to see if that continues.
 

anon(50597)

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Exactly. Google is over-reliant on search, but they put major effort into diversifying, and also that product would at least likely fade slower, were it to be replaced by something else. Apples reliance on the iPhone seems....almost niave. (Again, unless they have some vast, secret plans).

Yet it’s hard to argue with their success........thus far.
 

AgentTheGreat

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Hindsight is always 20/20. What if, under the current trend, smartphone markets continue to shrink, profits fall dramatically in the premium sector, and we decide apple overcommitted to mobile later on, and failed to diversity? It's an entirely possible scenario, to some degree even inevitable.

The vast wave that increasingly _was_, is only good if you can take the cash and catch the next one. Google has search, Microsoft games and business - both software and service businesses. Apple is a hardware company in part - if they are to even tread water, they have to not just win one round, but to win every round, forever. I don't know if I see that in them yet. Profitable - highly - but maybe a one trick pony? Google seems to be doing a better job at diversifying.

The question was "Why Microsoft's mobile efforts failed", and I answered that. Pretty much any answer given in this thread could be met with "hindsight is 20/20". Yes, it is. But when asking what went wrong, you have no choice but to respond with things that if known back then, would have meant success instead of failure.

Still, the second reason I mentioned is in fact what I screamed in the comments on many posts on WPCentral. I wasn't there for Microsoft's late entry, but I certainly was there when they were fumbling the ball on bad and insufficient support.
 

anon(10409867)

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It did not fail. Microsoft thought that it would fail and decided to put an end to it. WP may have gained traction later on. There is no way of knowing. But Microsoft lacked conviction in their ability to change market trend and that's why WP failed to survive.
 

anon(50597)

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It did not fail. Microsoft thought that it would fail and decided to put an end to it. WP may have gained traction later on. There is no way of knowing. But Microsoft lacked conviction in their ability to change market trend and that's why WP failed to survive.

Easy to say if it’s not your money.
They never had a chance, took a go at it and failed. Nothing to be ashamed of, many others failed also. Timing was wrong and the consumers spoke. End of story.
 

anon(10409867)

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Easy to say if it’s not your money.
They never had a chance, took a go at it and failed. Nothing to be ashamed of, many others failed also. Timing was wrong and the consumers spoke. End of story.

MS failed, not WP. There is a difference.

Do you think if Steve Jobs was in charge of Windows phone division, it would have failed? I don't think so.

Forget about apps, there was so much scope for improvement in the strategy itself. A phone with continuum without a portable 10" touch display or something, are you kidding me? How am I supposed to use that feature? I cannot carry a 22" monitor with me everywhere. I mean what was Microsoft's thinktank even doing?

People could have used that portable display as a e-reader or may be to write on it with surface pen. At least it made some sense.
 

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