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It is no secret that Microsoft has had a hell of a time getting people to buy their Windows Phone products. There are many reasons for this, most notably the late entry into the cell phone market. While most people were discovering the iPhone, Microsoft was still offering PDA style devices that just happen to make phone calls too. The cell phone part was treated like an afterthought by designers and it showed. These PDA’s were marketed to business people and it was clear in their marketing. Microsoft found a fair amount of success in the business world. Apple found a lot more success in the consumer world and this got Microsoft wanting some of that money. This is why we saw Windows Phone 7 become such a huge transition from Windows Mobile 6.5, just one hardware iteration prior. Windows Phone 8 came out, then 8.1 and with each major change, apps you bought for the previous version were not guaranteed to work on your new phone. Now we have seen Microsoft continue to attempt taking at least a profitable amount of the cell phone market with the release of Windows Phone 10. Even though Microsoft fixed the compatibility problems, for the most part, between Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 10, it is just too little too late for many. Couple that with the lack of the “killer” apps that Android and iPhone have and it is a tough sell to consumers to make the jump.
Apparently sales of Windows Phone have plummeted to around 26 percent of what they were last year. This information was made available in the third quarter earnings report from Microsoft. This is rather bad for a business. It is not like Microsoft had a huge market share to begin with so this drop to less than one-third in sales is disheartening. We could be seeing the early stages of Microsoft preparing to exit the cell phone market altogether?
Let’s analyze the situation a bit and see who is to blame for the decline in sales here.
Microsoft comes in late to the game, no big deal. So did Google with Android. For years the cell phone market was Apple and their iPhone against a myriad of competing platforms. Blackberry, Nokia’s offering, and just about every other cell phone maker and their version of a locked down operating system. It was easy to see how the iPhone took over. The same way that Microsoft’s Windows was able to take over computers- lack of serious competition and marketing that was not up their asses.
Microsoft has been in the cell phone market for years prior to Apple coming along. The thing that Apple did different was they marketed to a larger user base (business professionals versus teenagers and casual gamers). Apple saw an opportunity and built off of the success they already had with the iPod. Microsoft could have done something similar had they opened their eyes and let go of their death grip on enterprise clients (businesses and professionals). Microsoft forgot that their computer operating system, Windows, did not gain the market share it had because of the office software- it was games and still is games that drives most purchases of a Windows-based computer.
When Microsoft let go of the dying personal data assistant market it was too late. Apple already had a major foothold in the hand-held consumer electronics world. Plus Android was coming up after a purchase from the original developers by Google. Microsoft shot themselves in the foot multiple times, this was one of the early blasts.
First, before I get into this part of the discussion, users were used to Microsoft and other developers/publishers cutting off the previous operating system version when a new one is released. Windows XP software won’t run on Windows 95. Microsoft has prided themselves on offering backwards compatibility though so Windows 95 software “should” run on Windows XP. Keep that in mind as you read the rest of this article.
The Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system was as close to desktop Windows as you could get without dragging a bulky laptop around. The problem with it was that it had no cross compatibility with desktop software- screen resolutions, processing power, etc were just too different to make it work. This is something that Microsoft is pushing in Windows 10 and Windows Mobile 10- cross, or universal, Windows apps. These are apps that are designed to recognize many different screen resolutions and then offer up the proper version of the app or game.
Microsoft broke one of their own benefits to consumers when they progressed from Windows Mobile 6.5 to Windows Phone 7. This is understandable, they broke this benefit with the transition on the desktop from time to time, usually fixing it with updates later. This never happened for Windows Mobile 6.5 users that adopted Windows Phone 7, nor for 7 users that upgraded to Windows Phone 8. This surely left a bad taste in the mouths of supporters, at least from the Windows Phone 7 user base. This is probably the point where things started going to hell for the Windows Phone market. This was a case of Microsoft being greedy though there is probably a reason behind this lack of backwards compatibility within the Windows Phone software, at least the first two iterations.
Why would that be a concern? Think about this, when is the last time you heard of an iPhone, or Android, user complaining that an older app or game doesn’t run on their newest beast of a cell phone? This was rare for Windows desktop users and with Microsoft marketing their cell phone OS as a member of the “Windows family” it was easily mistaken this backwards compatibility was carried over too.
Again, Microsoft shot themselves in the foot by not allowing backwards compatibility between Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8. Dropping support for Windows Mobile 6.5 was understandable- the name changed so it was easily conceivable that compatibility with previous apps would not be there.
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