Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Five Reasons Why Forbes May Be Wrong on Microsoft's Windows Phone

My LinkedIn homepage directed me to this article today on Forbes, titled “Five reasons why Microsoft Windows Phone will make a big splash”.
Interesting read, but sadly, not many of these 5 reasons cited by the author make much sense to me. Of course, they all make sense, in general, but I don’t see any of these 5 reasons strong enough to make a “big splash”!

Reason #1: Windows Phone Has A Totally Unique UI
Yes it does. So did RIM playbook, but that did not help RIM much, did it? Having a unique UI may or may not help make the product a success. Having a UI that makes something simpler, easier or faster to do may help, but still cannot guarantee success. 

Reason #2: Originality Means Fewer Forays Into The Patent Wars
Come on now! When you have a minefield of patents for everyday activities like clicking a button on a touch-screen, or uploading a photograph, no smartphone OS maker can be safe from patent wars. The only way to prevent patent wars is to build a big & mean portfolio of patents as a deterrent to any infringement claims. I believe Microsoft already has this, and so the point of fewer patent wars is valid, but the reason is not "originality".

Reason #3: Uniformity Across All Devices & Carriers
iOS already has this. So what's new? And who says that tight control and uniformity is the key to success in smartphones? We're talking about the world here, not USA. Android's "clopen" system is successful, Apple's closed iOS is also successful. Microsoft has just chosen to go the Apple way instead of the Google way.

Reason #4: Zune is Baked Right Into the OS
And that is a reason for making a "splash"?? Is it as good as having a iPod integrated into an iPhone? Even the Symbian Belle (nowadays called Nokia Belle) music player was pretty good enough for music listening.

Reason #5: XBox Live Gaming Support
Well, this may be a valid reason. Gaming on smartphone is a hygiene factor now. How compelling the gaming experience is, can make or break a product. I personally dont know how good the XBox Live games are, as I've never used an XBox (live or otherwise). But if they're as good as the iOS games available, then yes, this is a good reason.

So here it is... just 2 of the 5 reasons seem valid to me. 
Forbes also forgets to mention the two more critical reasons that can really make WP a success. 

#1 Nokia: The single most important reason why Microsoft can hope for a entry into the smartphone OS club. It may come as a surprise, but a majority of buyers around the world dont care if it's Symbian, Meego, or Windows Phone. The Nokia brand means a good phone, reliable phone, and people will buy it. Nokia has also marketed the Lumia well at least in India (nicely downplaying that it's a Microsoft powered phone). If Nokia can survive a few more quarters of losses (as it will take some time to compensate for lost Symbian sales), they can pull this off!

#2 Android Patent Litigations: Android patent wars have been getting hot, and Google does too little, too late, to protect it's precious eco-system. It wont take much for HTC and Samsung to decide to switch sides. Once Samsung switches, LG will follow. Sony and Motorola may be the only few big names left in the Android camp. Even if Samsung and HTC dont switch sides, the losses due to injunctions (Samsung) and the license fees they pay to Microsoft (HTC), may drive down their margins and make the Android OEM's less profitable. This may not mean that overnight WP gains Android's market share, but it means that it's that much easier to compete with the Android.

No comments: