It was such a beautiful dream. The openness of Google, matched with the control of Apple. Quality and quantity, optimised apps that anyone would be free to make. All married together with a bold sense of style and the massive branding power of Microsoft, there was no way that Windows Phone 7 could lose.
And yet here we are: 2015. Five years after the dream once started, yet all that is left to do is pinpoint when it became a nightmare; how did it all go so wrong? As Windows Phone is laid to rest once again, soon to be born anew as Windows 10 Mobile, it is certainly a pertinent question.
In 2010, the mobile world and its trends were not quite so set in stone as they now are. Apple, having started the smartphone revolution (at least according to some), was focused on the success of its newest device form factor, the iPad, regarded by many as an over-inflated phone....
....And now, we arrive in the present, where things are dimmer still. The Lumia line, once loud and proud, has reportedly been trimmed to a meagre six annual offerings. Nokia’s Devices and Services division has been written off, to the tune of $7.6 billion. And Microsoft, once again sensing the way that the wind is blowing, has opted to start again, with the launch of Windows 10 Mobile now imminent.
“Windows Phone was such a beautiful dream, but now another may begin”
Kantar currently places Windows Phone at 3.0% market-share in the USA. In the UK, this figure is slightly higher at 11.4%. And yet, when both Android and iPhone almost exclusively dominate the rest of the market, in a pattern that is repeated throughout the world, Microsoft has had to temper its ambitions. Satya Nadella, Ballmer’s replacement, is a canny thinker, and in reducing the Lumia lineup to a mere 6 devices a year, he has both drawn a line in the sand regarding the firms intentions in this area, while also planting the seeds for the future success of Windows Phone. Now that other OEMs have less competition, they may feel more inclined to join the party that was once so crowded with close family members.
So what can be learned from the past of Windows Phone, in order to best avoid its mistakes and repeat its greatest successes? The lessons are many, but all have their root in Microsoft having been caught resting on its laurels; if its new mobile OS is to succeed, it must pursue its future with a vision and energy that has hitherto been lacking, the doldrums must be left behind.
Windows Phone was such a beautiful dream, but now another may begin.