Microsoft provided the official debut of Windows Phone 7 this week as it provides a sort of middle option between Android and the iPhone to mobile consumers.
It would seem the best target for Microsoft would be mobile business users who already use Microsoft products as the backbone of their work environment, especially now as some of the shine has worn away from RIM’s blackberry, with a logical move for Microsoft to buy out RIM and then corner this mobile business market.
Windows Phone 7 instead is going for the larger pie within the mobile market by directly targeting the general consumer after its initial but declining inroads with Windows Mobile and the setback with the Kin.
I think its a unique twist with an original approach to the user interface with hubs & tiles while taking a middle ground approach of the iPhone’s overarching controls & the relative freedom of Android. A sort of socialist state between an iPhone dictatorship and a loosely controlled Android democracy.
- Ultimate availability on all 4 US mobile networks like Android
- Variety of choice in handsets and interface such as keyboards like Android
- Strict dictation of phone specs like Apple
- Streamlined user interface like Apple
The direct consumer target WP7 is gunning for are the approximately 70% of US mobile users who don’t already have a smartphone.
The iPhone & Android already have their polarized devotees plus Android has made deep inroads with the overly technical & anti-Apple crowd, so its a play for the truly undecided.
WP7 is not app centric like the iPhone nor browser centric like Android but seems to take a simpler streamlined approach by sort of hand-holding previous feature phone users to a smartphone by providing tight integration with Microsoft products such as Windows, Xbox, Bing, Office & Exchange while initially lacking power smartphone features such as Cut & Paste, multi-tasking, WiFi tethering & HTML5 support.
I see Windows Phone 7 getting decent albeit lukewarm consumer adoption through the holiday season, far from the Kin bust, but will need a sort of fanboy user & developer base that Android has largely carved to expand its reach.
Android already holds the keys for Microsoft’s previous success over Apple & the Mac back in the 90s with its cheaper costs, wide distribution, wide integration, brand recognition & feature set advantage.
In my opinion, to gain appreciable mobile market share in 2011 WP7 would need to be heavily subsidized below the cost of Android devices along with a heavily subsidized development community and an extensive marketing campaign touting its differentiating consumer feature advantages.