Microsoft has finally admitted that it strategy with Windows Phone is not working and it needs to change its game plan. Even with a slew of releases in the last couple of months Windows Phone still hasn’t cracked the double digit market share except for in some markets. Whatever foothold it had managed to gain in markets like India in the entry level segment has been washed away by cheap Androids will flagship specs (and certainly better than anything that Microsoft has to offer at the moment) from China. In such a market, Microsoft’s current strategy of having umpteen phones that are hard to differentiate from one another would never have worked and it seems like Satya Nadella’s decision to write-off Nokia’s acquisition was a smart one.
With the new approach, Microsoft will be targeting entry level, high level and business class customers. It’s giving a pass to the mid tier segment, where the competition is just too hot to handle. The move makes sense, since Microsoft has been traditionally strong in the entry level segment with offerings like the Lumia 520 being massive hits. With less number of devices on the table, it can clearly announce that unlike Android, its entry level phones don’t struggle and don’t need tons of RAM and processing power to function smoothly. An yearly update would also be sufficient to keep the hardware up to date.
On the business side, Microsoft hopes to make it big with Windows 10 and Windows Phone could further strengthen its case. The OS is already seeing adoption on the enterprise side and more hardware towards that cause could turn out to be wise. However, such phones won’t usually be crowd pullers and would only serve enterprises. Microsoft should make sure these are not entry level devices and offer decent hardware to be compelling enough for employees to use as their daily drivers.
Windows Phone has been absent from the high end for months now and needs to make a strong comeback in that space. Microsoft shouldn’t just couple the phones in this segment with killer specs, but should add enough additional capabilities to make these phones different from other offerings. Polycarbonate bodies won’t just cut it anymore and the phones would need to shout premium to appease the normal crowd. That means use of premium materials like metal and glass to make them pleasing to the eye for everybody and not just Nokia fans.
However, even if these steps fail to turn the tide for Windows Phone, it will sadly be the end of it for the 3rd ecosystem. While the new strategy makes more sense, it’s failure would mean that Microsoft would be shipping even less phones than it currently does. This would further erode developer interest and it won’t take long for Windows Phone to go down the BlackBerry’s path from there on.
It’s a tight place Microsoft finds itself in right now. Windows 10 is the company’s last resort in the mobile space. It cannot take things for granted anymore (we mean things like that abyssal Windows Phone Store search) and will always have to be on the edge if it wants its platform to succeed. Otherwise, get ready to see almost all of Microsoft’s services coming to iOS and Android in the coming months.