Ok, eventually Windows Phone 7 is out, RTM today.
As a long time Microsoftee, and still a believer, I really wish they did the right thing 🙂 – now, what would that be? I see 3 main areas to focus on.
1. It must be cool, it must be easy, it should work!
“Above all, Windows 7 is–dare I say—elegant”, Ina Fried – ok, so we’re getting better?
Too often MS forgot that users are users, and they are always right. A phone must phone, first, and also add useful features and apps in a way that matters and entertains. It looks like this time they had much more time spent on this, and they also managed being better in some aspects than competition.
But be sure, anyone out there will compare it to iPhone first, and any missing feature will be duly noted, and anything cumbersome will be discussed extensively.
And not to be mistaken, for some time more WP7 is long from being perceived cool, whatever MS does; it is a product from a techie company, design is out of control even if they added new stronger guidelines; Apple is Apple and cool by definition, and not only because of the iPhone success- they now pile success on from all i* technologies; UI expectations have been set: on touch, on easy access, on marketplace interaction.
2. I need relevancy! I want to have apps that enable me do my stuff.
These days many are in the social media space, Twitter Facebook Foursquare and the likes, but also and increasingly apps that access resources or enable mcommerce.
To support all this there needs to be a deep relationship with the big dev guys, as well as a rich set of APIs to enable the dev army to take advantage of the platform.
WP7 should have done a better job here, but guess what, everyone will compare it again, to iPhone but mostly to Droid that is doing top notch work in engaging with devs.
And, not to forget, a lot will depend on the availability of a thriving marketplace !! All yet to see.
Also, to succeed in the business space it’s not only about leveraging Office, there are many more m-enabled apps out there now, to start from SFA and include lots of web 2.0 stuff. To support them it’s not only APIs availability, but it would be more efficient to see how these apps can interop among themselves, or with the Office/phone assets.
MS is driving some of that interop on the backend, but there may be more that could be done, and a strong Live play.
Apps: there is a horde of possibly interested parties to this space, and most have not mobilized yet.
Where are in fact eBay, Amazon, who could be giving smartphones for free if integrated with their apps; where are the banks or credit card, that could integrate payment systems; where are the top consumer brands that wish to create community and fidelity.
3. Leverage your assets.
Leverage the other software platforms: XBox, Zune, Office (Exchange), Bing, Photosynt, Silverlight, maybe more. Something more is there now, but the KIN experience showed that sometime internal org issues limit this to the point of missing the opportunities… we’ll see. And it will be very relevant to see now the release schedule for next software improvements, make them fast enough!
Leverage your business partners (until you have credibility and they listen to you…): the telco operators have deep pockets and a great say to influence end users.
The US market is so dominated by a handful of powerful and entrenched players that it is a must, even if AT&T and Verizon already took sides or big bets, and I am not sure that Sprint or TMobile offer real alternatives.
In Europe there is more opportunity for driving strong operator alliances, if this could change the order of an entry strategy in the worldwide markets (start in Europe first!); and do not discount those markets as separate, because operators like Orange TMobile Vodafone or Telfonica are multi-country in most of the relevant markets…
Asia is driven by price, not the top market for the actual positioning of smartphones.
So, where are we at?
WP7 is a much better product, at last.
The phone (smartphone?) market has been growing very rapidly these last few years, is WP7 in time to make a change?
All said, the smartphone market is still a minimal fraction of the total cell market, or of the total target population (mostly based in developing countries). If so, maybe there is an option if WP is aligned to the bigger picture and makes a good entry on the market, but I do not think its merits alone will be enough.
Guess what: partners, partners, partners.
Good luck WP7, make it fast 🙂