Speaking to Pocket-lint, an LG executive offers a reasonable assessment of the Windows Phone 7 launch and explains why it will be OK in the long run. The important points, I think, are:
High expectations crushed by less-than-expected visibility
“From an industry perspective we had a high expectation, but from a consumer point of view the visibility is less than we expected”, James Choi, marketing strategy and planning team director of LG Electronics global said.
Windows Phone “perfect” for many people, more intuitive than Android
“LG has been closely collaborating with Microsoft from the beginning. What we feel is that it is absolutely perfect for a huge segment out there. What we feel is that some people believe that some operating systems, mainly Google, are extremely complicated for them. But Windows Phone 7 is very intuitive and easy to use … For tech guys like us it might be a little bit boring after a week or two, but there are certain segments that it really appeals to.”
Launch was below expectations
“We strongly feel that it has a strong potential even though the first push wasn’t what everyone expected”.
Diversity is key for hardware makers and wireless providers
“From a vendor perspective having that balance is critical, being dependent on one OS is not beneficial for us. That’s the same with not just the manufacturers, but the operators as well.”
“There is a need and demand from the operators saying there is too much ‘Android’ in the portfolio. In that sense LG always tries to balance our portfolio, and that’s not just in sense of hardware but OSes as well.”
Lower prices will help gain marketshare
“There is a lot of skepticism at the moment, but once Windows Phone 7 handsets that are mid-tier to low tier start appearing the market share will grow. Right now it’s only exclusively present in a high tier, because of its hardware requirements, and that’s limiting growth”.
OK, so this is a wonderfully frank and reasonable look at the situation from a guy who knows what he’s talking about. And I can tell you that, based on 15 years of industry interviewing, that’s pretty rare.
So here are my “action item” takeaways from the issues he raises.
Visibility. Microsoft needs to broaden availability of Windows Phone via wireless carriers and communicate that availability via more advertising. That is, the company needs to really stand behind the product and not just let it sit there in silence.
Re-launch it. Microsoft blew it with the launch and it should think seriously about an effective “relaunch” in 2011. One bit of advice: Make the availability of Windows Phone features and services more consistent (i.e. actually consistent) across all of the locales in which the device is available. Some countries can’t even access podcasts for crying out loud. How second rate is that?
And by the way, Apple effectively relaunches the iPhone every. single. year. Why doesn’t Microsoft do that, and in the same way? “It’s like getting a new Windows Phone … in your Windows Phone!” This is surprisingly simple stuff, Microsoft.
Don’t be different, be better. Just being another option isn’t enough. Windows Phone has to be provably better than the iPhone and Android, and a better value. I feel that the platform is already superior, but that filling in the gaps (as in the previous point) will pretty much accomplish this goal.
Lower prices. One argument to be made is that Microsoft should lowball on Windows Phone pricing given that Android is effectively free and the iPhone has no such concerns.
Beyond this, there are other issues of course. My biggest pet peeves not covered above include:
Transparency. Microsoft needs to be more transparent about its plans for improving the platform.
Speed. Microsoft needs to move far more quickly, especially this first year, in fixing existing problems and adding new features. Can you believe that we’re three full months into this and Microsoft hasn’t even issued a single fix? Ridiculous.
Communication. Microsoft needs to explicitly reach out to people for their feedback about the platform. You have to really know what you’re doing to complain, and there’s no evidence they could care less about that stuff anyway. We’re here, Microsoft, and we care. For crying out loud, don’t ignore your biggest fans, especially now.
Press and PR. Microsoft PR has been abysmal in getting back to me (and I assume others) with answers to questions. In fact, fully 50 percent of my queries are never answered at all. This complaint is related to my first two points above in that it’s a problem of both a transparency and speed. I don’t berate to berate. I berate because I think this platform deserves to succeed. I’m curious why the people responsible for promoting this platform don’t appear to feel the same sense of urgency. Hello?
Thanks to Leon Z. for the link.