1. Darthbobcat's Avatar
    This was a thought that occurred to me the other day as I was trying to find accessories in my local area for a Nokia Lumia 1020. There were none to be had, even from AT&T stores that were selling them (and I live 120 miles away from the nearest Microsoft store, so that's out). I think that one of the strengths of the Lumia line, its diversity, is also its weakness, because it makes it hard to have any uniformity.

    Now, before I begin, I want to say that my thoughts are US centric, because that's where I've experienced the cell phone market.

    Now, in the US, most of the people I know either have some variety of Samsung Galaxy or iPhone. This is borne out by reports of market share, and every phone carrier, from bottom feeders like Virgin Mobile to lesser carriers like US Cellular and T-Mobile, has SOME of these phones on their network. Because of the ubiquity of these devices, when I go to the mall, or Best Buy, or AT&T, or even poking around the discount rack at Office Max, I see accessories for one or both of these families of phone.

    Now, let's look at Nokia, Samsung and HTC's US efforts for Windows Phone. Samsung has barely tried, with one or two Windows Phone 8's on the market at any given time, with each limited to one carrier. HTC had the most consistency, releasing the HTC 8X on 3 of the top four networks. As a result, during the lifetime of that phone, accessories were fairly common, as I recall. On Nokia's end, though, the only phones that have been released on more than one network were the Lumia 925 and 635. Everything else has been some sort of carrier exclusive. And y'know what?

    That isn't the least bit surprising. If I were a carrier, I would limit my number of Windows Phones too. The market share is pretty low, so if I'm giving it floor space, I'm going to want to give it two or three spots, tops. And I think that the sheer variety of Lumias is making it hard for Microsoft Mobile to be profitable, and crowds out HTC and Samsung out of the shelf space at the carrier because, again, Verizon is probably going to give Windows Phones two, three spots tops. Samsung's profit on the most successful Android brand is down, in part, because they have so many varieties of phone, which lowers the market share and margin of any individual phone, just due to economies of scale. Microsoft Mobile, with much smaller volumes, must be feeling the same pinch.

    I think Microsoft's decision to have every Windows Phone available in the US if you go digging SOMEWHERE (Cricket to get the 1320, AIO for the 620, etc) makes it harder for third parties to support it. If, somehow, all Windows Phones sold in the US were of one or two models at any given time, you would see more variety of accessories and mindshare. I understand the desire to cover the entire spectrum of customer demand (I want a phablet, but don't want to spend the money on a 1520. I want a phone with a badass camera. I want the 920, but could it be thinner? I want the 820, but could it have rounded edges and more storage?), but at the same time, it fragments the market. Badly. I used to work at the Microsoft Store, and I can't tell you how many conversations revolved around someone wanting an AT&T phone on Verizon or vice versa, and how often those discussion hinged on some MINISCULE difference between the 9XX phones. (Other conversations were about 1020 and Icon envy from people on other carriers). The options existing actually paralyzes customer decisions sometimes.

    If I were magically put in charge of Microsoft Mobile, my first set of decisions would be deciding on exactly FOUR phones for the entire US market, and working my hind end off to pick TWO of them to be released on all carriers simultaneously. Sure, there would be complaints from Windows Phone fans that the 735 wasn't coming to the states, but some consistency would make things better.

    Most likely, I would have a lineup where you had the 635 as a prepaid phone (which doesn't take up space in a typical carrier store, since those are sold elsewhere), the 830 as your "affordable flagship" as one of the requisite phone for all carriers, the 930 as the "less affordable flagship" for all carriers, and the 1520 as the phablet. Hyper specialist phones like the 1020 are cool and all (I enjoy mine), but they really haven't moved the needle much on market share. Microsoft could make space in their OWN stores for unlocked specialist phones if they really wanted them available.

    In short (too late), I think that to work better in the US market, Microsoft needs to come out with some, well, flagship phones at different price points with the intention to use them as hero devices for at LEAST 6 months. These devices can be made by Microsoft Mobile, or HTC, Samsung, Hwawei, WHATEVER as long as there's consistency. Even I feel like Windows Phones are somewhat disposable because of just how often new ones come out. Apple and Samsung come out with flagship phones once a year, they're universally available and they are the focus of heavy advertising for months on end. I hope that when Windows 10 phones come out, that we see something similar. If the 830 and HTC One for Windows become ubiquitous like they're rumored to be, and MICROSOFT KEEPS THE FOCUS GOING ON THESE MODELS, I think they'll see more success than their current model of "here's a new phone. Next month, there will be another new phone with a slightly different set of features at a different price point. Now here's a new super budget phone. Here's a mildly different high end phone exclusive to Verizon," etc.

    Of course, behind the scenes carrier negotiations probably are what prevents them from doing this, but it's food for thought. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this, even if it's to tell me I'm dumb.
    Laura Knotek and Madam ImAdam like this.
    10-11-2014 01:33 AM
  2. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    I blame the carriers in the US for this issue. Carrier exclusives are the biggest problem IMO.
    gwinegarden and Guzzler3 like this.
    10-11-2014 01:40 AM
  3. HoosierDaddy's Avatar
    Since I prefer to not pay for buildings and employees standing around in them when few or no customers are in them, not to mention sales tax, I was not aware of this "issue". I find so many accessory options on-line that I almost wish for LESS just to make choosing easier.
    10-11-2014 10:25 AM
  4. Darthbobcat's Avatar
    These are valid points (though the sales tax loophole is being closed pretty quickly). However, I kinda wanted the accessories that day, and to see them in person before making a selection. If I'd been looking for an iPhone or a Galaxy, I would have had that option at at least 5 places in my moderately sized city.
    10-11-2014 11:34 AM
  5. aximtreo's Avatar
    I blame the carriers in the US for this issue. Carrier exclusives are the biggest problem IMO.
    Boy do I believe this. My thought would be to have a few in each of three levels, low, mid and high end devices. More importantly, all models should be available on all carriers at the same time. MS should take exclusives and stick it where the sun don't shine.
    Laura Knotek likes this.
    10-11-2014 02:16 PM
  6. Darthbobcat's Avatar
    I don't see that expectation as realistic. Until Windows Phone commands a larger share of the market, you can expect the US carriers to give it two or three models per store, with maybe another available online exclusively and another available in no contract packaging at Walmart and the like. It's kinda like how every carrier doesn't have every Android phone, but they have a balanced selection of the current state of the market.

    And again, it's unrealistic to expect them to have more than three phones TOTAL, to say nothing of different manufacturers. If you want more support from HTC and/or Samsung and/or whoever else, you need to give 'em room to breathe. A carrier having, to use current models as an example, the 830 free on contract, the HTC One M8 for Windows and the Nokia Lumia 1520 for 99 or so on a contract, and the 635 sold off contract, with maybe the 735 or 1020 as an online exclusive, would be the best case scenario we can currently expect. (And we have something sort of resembling this on AT&T, who I'm sticking with because of their better Windows Phone support). What I'm saying is that Microsoft and its partners need to figure out a set of phones and let that be the status quo across ALL carriers for at least 4 months before new models start replacing them. It will make the phones seem more special and noteworthy if they actually have a lifespan before the "new hotness" comes out. If Windows Phone can get that on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular, then I'll say it's arrived.
    10-11-2014 04:36 PM

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