Paul Thurrott: ‘Is Time Running Out for Windows Phone?’

Paul Thurrott:

I’m as concerned, in a way, with what is very clearly yet another do-over. Yes, Windows Phone 8 will retain the Windows Phone name, and yes, it will run “legacy” Windows Phone 7.x apps, those apps that were written in Silverlight or the game-centric XNA APIs. But with Silverlight and XNA both silently cancelled deep within Microsoft’s ever-reimagined corporate hulk, the move to a variation of WinRT means that Windows Phone is starting over again. That means more work for developers who, let’s face it, haven’t really had much incentive to adopt this platform in the first place.

Interesting piece. I wasn’t aware just how big a change, under the hood, Windows Phone 8 will be.

As for time running out, I don’t think that’s quite Microsoft’s problem. I see no reason why, if they stick with it, Windows Phone couldn’t take off eventually, even after a few years of slow sales. One of the things that has made the mobile market so vibrant is that people buy new phones frequently — often every two years — and there’s relatively low friction to switch between platforms. Just because Windows Phone 7 hasn’t made a significant dent in the market doesn’t mean Windows Phone 8 is similarly doomed.

But can not is different than will not. The iPhone succeeded because consumers demanded it. Android succeeded because the carriers pushed it. Windows Phone has neither the iPhone’s consumer demand nor Android’s carrier support. Something has to change there.

My advice to Microsoft would be to go after Android, hard. Make Windows Phone the carriers’ best friend. Target your advertising on BlackBerry holdouts and dissatisfied Android users. Position Windows Phone as the alternative to the iPhone.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012