A lot has been said about Microsoft’s adventure into mobile with Windows Phone. I believe that one critical issue has been overlooked by almost every

Where Microsoft missed it with Windows Phone

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A lot has been said about Microsoft’s adventure into mobile with Windows Phone. I believe that one critical issue has been overlooked by almost every analysis of why Windows Phone is failing in the market.

It is clear that Microsoft chose to follow in the footsteps of Apple’s closed system and simple user interface. Not necessarily a bad idea. However, Microsoft failed to copy the model accurately.

Here is my submission in a nutshell: a closed model that ensures uniformity and conformity like iOS requires a single manufacturer, not a plethora of manufacturers as Microsoft is currently pushing.

You see, Apple is a single manufacturer and the uniformity and simplicity of iOS distinguishes them. IOS is so closed as an OS that the only way it can be pushed in the market is by one single but strong manufacturer.

Windows Mobile was open enough to allow various levels of customisation by different manufacturers. Windows Phone, a totally different beast, is closed and limits manufacturers in too many ways. Like iOS, the latter will not play well with multiple manufacturers. Simple.

Android, like Symbian used to be, is open too to allow for different variations and flavours from different manufacturers. Windows Phone and iOS are anti-types of this sort of openness.

Another manufacturer with a closed operating system is RIM. Once you have used one BlackBerry, you might as well have used all other BlackBerries. BlackBerry OS is closed and uniform. We have heard rumours of RIM seeking to license BlackBerry out to others. Bad idea, unless they are willing to open it up and allow licensees to toy with it deeply. Without opening BlackBerry up, the licensees will find it hard to differentiate their products to consumers, something that is essential to their brands.

What Windows Phone needs is one strong manufacturer to push it in the market, not a line-up of multiple manufacturers who end up struggling to differentiate their products. With one strong manufacturer with good brand awareness and loyalty committed to the platform, it stands a better chance of success in the market. When you want an iOS device, you think Apple. When you want a BlackBerry device, well, you think BlackBerry. There is no dillydallying about what brand to pick. Those closed platforms are branded to their manufacturers. That’s how closed platforms work in the mind of buyers.

Note that even open platforms usually end up with one dominant manufacturer who eclipses everyone else. Think old Symbian and Nokia. Think Android and Samsung. The dominant guys run away with the market, while all others dance on the fringes. How much more a closed platform. Things just get tough for multiple manufacturers.

For now, regardless of whether it is a Samsung, Nokia, or LG, all Windows Phone smartphones are essentially the same in UI and OS, bar minor skin-deep differences. That will not work. Windows Phone needs just one single manufacturer with lots of cash and strong brand loyalty.

But then, perhaps Microsoft did NOT make a mistake (or perhaps they soon realised their mistake), and are actually already implementing a plan to acquire one manufacturer – you know the conspiracy theory about the plan to weaken Nokia and then buy it; don’t you?

No; I didn’t just say that. If you quote me, I will deny it. Walahi!


  1. Coming from a platform i.e symbian where one would tweak and customize stuff to one that doesn’t allow bluetooth file transfer & mass storage option is probably one of the reasons why I wouldn’t pick up a Windows phone be it from Nokia or any other manufacturer in the nearest future.

    As for the conspiracy theory, hmmm, my lips are sealed. Lol

  2. I get the impression that Windows Phone has that in mind, judging the way some manufacturers have dropped WP to focus on other operating systems. The less players, the more Microsoft can focus on the few.

    At the end of the day it looks like it may be a case of “last man standing”, who will wear the exclusive Windows Phone crown. Samsung Windows Phones have always been highly rated – unless something severe happens, I can’t see them parting ways yet. Nokia is a world-renowned, popular and well-loved brand, but Windows Phone on Nokia? It’s been a mixed bag.

    Also bear in mind that the roll out of Nokia Windows Phones may not be as global i.e. they will avoid the markets where they feel they can’t make as big a dent as they can/want in North America and Europe.

  3. Perhaps Microsoft wants to be in the middle of open & closed and has cajoled Nokia to be used a main manufacturer.

    iOS has a very good ecosystem and Android gives you all the freedom you need. Unless Microsoft is bringing something new to the table it will be hard for them to really make it.

    E.g, alot of people will buy Purview because of its outstanding camera. There is just nothing strong that’s really pushing one to get a WinPhone.

    I will rather buy a Win Tablet because i know that is windows on the go for me.

  4. Very thought provoking article. Didn’t think of it this way. But it sure looks true.

    In addition, Windows phone is also bereft of features in which long Standing Nokia Symbian users would take for granted. And that may be an additional albatross!

  5. From all indications the conspiracy theory thing seems to be effectively working.Why!Because even though symbian seems to be regaining its life back, nokia is doing everything to see it dead.1stly, pureView 808 is said to be a premium product and not for a mass market ,2ndly ,symbian Carla&Donna may not come but only Belle pack in numbers,3rdly no recent symbian phone is produced with Auto focus except the pureView which was unavoidablly on production for over five years now.Regardless, no nokia official is feeling even free to comment on meego when asked,as evident by an indian blogger Nitish Kumar during nokia puerView event in india recently.You can confirm that at http://www.nitishkumar.net
    However, again almost all the old Wp OEM like the LG,HTC ,Dell etc have dumped the OS.Iam sure even samsung is just there to pressurise nokia before Tizen Os wil be fully in place possibly before the end of the year.So Microsoft shall soon have nokia all to itself ,may be that way it shall achieve a proper closed platform as deem fit.Though as for Bluetooth transfer issue,i learnt that has been taken care of in Wp7 Tango and Tango is already sighted on lumia 900.

  6. in case you blokes haven’t heard. symbian Carla has been cancelled completely.4get the the support till 2016. its all bollocks

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