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Why people won’t try Windows Phone

Like all recent high-end Microsoft smartphones, the Nokia Lumia 930 is big, beautiful and powerful. You couldn't describe any phone as intuitive. Still, anyone who has spent time with modern technology will have no trouble finding their way around Windows Phone 8.

Microsoft’s Lumia 930 straddles the gulf between personal needs and productive working. All the fun phone stuff is there. At the same time Windows Phone 8 integrates with Windows desktops and tablets.

And, as you’d expect, it works well with Microsoft Office and OneDrive.

If you can drive Windows, you’ll get a lot out of Windows Phone. If you spend most of your working life using Microsoft’s technology, the Lumia 930 is an obvious choice.

Windows Phone not on the radar

And yet, for most people, Windows Phone isn’t even on the radar. Windows Phone accounts for just 2.5 per cent of the market.

Only one smartphone in 40 runs Windows Phone 8. Compare that with Android which accounts for around 34 phones out of 40 and Apple’s iOS which accounts for the other five out of 40.

Why have geeks and non-geeks alike turned their back on Microsoft’s phone technology?

At Geekzone, Mauricio Freitas reconsiders why people say they aren’t buying Windows Phones. His post follows the why won’t you try Windows Phone? discussion in the Geekzone forum.

Unfounded Windows Phone app complaints

Freitas says people complain they don’t like the look of Windows Phone apps. He dismantles the myth that well-know apps look different.

Likewise, Windows Phone’s most talked about shortcoming is not what it seems. Sure, there are fewer apps in the Windows Phone App Store than in iTunes or Google Play. But how many do you need?

Almost every significant app is there. In some cases there are functional replacements.

Missing deal breakers

There are many iPhone or Android apps missing on Windows Phone. Some look like deal breakers. Yet while people like having them on their phones, they don't use them that often.

The lack of apps in the Windows store is more about perception than reality.

There’s a deeper problem. Microsoft isn’t on the phone buyer radar. Most don’t even consider Windows Phone.

There are two parts to this. First, Microsoft’s fall from grace. Microsoft’s brand is devalued.

Lingering monopoly hangover

In the 1990s Microsoft dominated all aspects of computing. You didn’t buy Microsoft because you wanted to, you bought Microsoft because there was no alternative.

That changed. Rivals like Google offered alternatives. Apple returned from a near death experience. Open Source emerged.

When this happened, there was pent-up resentment against Microsoft. It wasn’t just political or irrational resentment, although both exist. Instead there’s a grudging unwillingness to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt.

A meh feeling. A let’s not go there mood stands between some older consumers and Microsoft’s Phone operating system.

Younger people grew up in a world when Microsoft was no longer a name to conjure with and wonder what all the fuss is about anyway.

Windows Phone too late to market

Microsoft’s other problem is that it was too late to market with a useful, modern smartphone operating system.

Apple introduced the iPhone and iOS in 2007. Android appeared around the same time. Windows Phone 7 didn’t show until 2010. Microsoft wasn’t competing on an equal footing until Windows Phone 8 arrived in late 2012.

By then Apple and Android had vast smartphone empires. They took the low-hanging fruit, built customer loyalty and market momentum.

PC market all over again

There’s a precedent for this. No-one came close to catching up with Microsoft in PC operating systems.

Now the boot is on the other foot. Those with long memories will recall attempts to challenge Windows that never got traction. More to the point almost no-one tried or even considered the alternatives.

Microsoft may never recover the money it sank when buying Nokia. Microsoft probably makes more from selling software licences allowing Samsung to use Android than in makes from its own phone.

Microsoft’s smartphone niche

There are options. Microsoft could head for a niche, aiming to sell phones to corporate customers already using the company’s other products. BlackBerry tried that without much success.

This strategy ignores Apple’s success in getting its hardware into the corporate market. iPhones and iPads dominate mobility at the big end of town.

Microsoft has lost the smartphone market. There’s no clear recovery from this point. It can’t even sell Windows Phones to the legions of customers already committed to Microsoft technology stack.

It’s hard to see what Microsoft can do. After all, if the people who read a site called Geekzone aren’t interested in trying Windows Phone, what chance is there others will take a look?