One of the ongoing themes in Year 1 of Windows Phone in Australia has been the store retail experience for potential new Windows Phone customers Down Under. Unfortunately, this experience has proved more often to be a negative one for this (still) fledgling mobile OS. Social Media and enthusiast sites and forums have too often discussed the lack of retail sales staff knowledge of the Windows Phone OS, limited availability, pushes to Android or iOS and a host of other disappointing outcomes. This, combined with the Microsoft decision in year 1 to soft launch (no major marketing or promotion, point-of-sale support etc etc) ensured that WP7 was relegated to at best a minor presence or even absent from many outlets. With no Generation 2 device announcements yet for Australia (from leader to straggler) – WPDownUnder went out earlier this week to cold-call some local stores and check-in on the Windows Phone retail experience.
Microsoft, HTC, Samsung, LG, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all remain silent on the reason for delays in Australia on announcements of new WP7 devices. Meanwhile excitement over Nokia out of the Northern Hemisphere with the release of the Lumia devices will not translate to a local device release until Q1 2012. Consequently the state of Windows Phone in Australia is sadly subdued. Whilst the Mango Update places this great mobile OS as a real contender and alternative to Android and iOS – in a fast-paced retail environment with new devices from the market leader (Android) seemingly every week – retail store staff (and consumers) just cannot seem to reconcile a 13 month old handset with WP7 as being able to go head-to-head with the newest Apple and HTC/Samsung etc Android handsets. That’s before you even commence the argument of whether ” specs” alone define the User Experience of a smartphone. Without the newer devices, both the consumer and more critically the handset distribution partners (ie Telcos) just don’t seem to have WP7 as “in their sights” at present.
This works directly against the ripples of interest that are already being felt here based on the excellent Marketing and Promotional launch in the EU by Nokia for the Lumia Windows Phone.
So – how does Windows phone fare in the retail shopping experience compared to its opposition? The table below represents some 1st hand Market research undertaken earlier this week. Travelling to one of the major outlying South Eastern suburbs at the edge of the Melbourne urban sprawl, WPDownUnder visited each of centrally located (>90% of outlets) retail phone stores to litmus test Sales feedback and the in-store customer experience for someone setting out to buy a GEN1 WP7 device in Australia right now.
Frankston: Regional Population ~130K+ ~40km from Melbourne CBD.
Thanks to Ryan and Travis over at WPDevPodcast – who planted the idea following their most recent podcast with a “cold-call” to a US based ATT store for a similar intent. Make sure you check out their podcast recording of that experience!
Frankston, VIC WP7 Retail Store Cold Call
Store Carrier/Telco Windows Phone Units on Display Outright Prices Feedback - WP7 Feedback - Nokia Lumia
Samsung Omnia 7/
LG Optimus 7
No focus outright sale
Moved OK on contract
Telstra Nil N/A N/A No Knowledge
Nil N/A No OEM or TELCO reps pushing the devices, no real levels of public interest/enquiry. All Android or iOS focus. Knowledge of Nokia Lumia devices and expect to stock/sell these in 2012.
Nil N/A N/A Knowledge of Nokia Lumia devices and expect to stock/sell these in 2012.
Have not been happy with Meego/Nokia till now.
Nil N/A No interest in WP7.
Did I mention Android?
Mall 3/Vodafone Kiosk
$449 OK sales to SEP (sale)
Feel Difficult to use
Some cust. returns.
Telstra HTC HD7**/
* Mozart was unusable
** HD7 was pre-Nodo!
OK sales Mozart $49 cap
Very Few HD7 sales
Nil N/A N/A No Knowledge
Telstra HTC HD7 only
$768 Hardly Moving units
No real buyer interest
No Reps pushing
Vague idea re: Nokia in 2012 with WP7. Thinks they will stock this. No news on other devices.
Dick Smith (DSE)
Nil N/A N/A No Knowledge
Virgin Nil N/A N/A No Knowledge
Nil N/A N/A Already had customers coming in asking for Nokia WP7 devices!
Optus Samsung Omnia 7/
LG Optimus 7
(both off/no demo)
Have not moved many
Believe UI is difficult
Had some negative feedback
- 13 stores checked (probably 90+ % of main shopping centre/mall outlets).
- 5/13 stores selling WP7 (just better than 1 in 3).
- Only 2 of those 5 report moderate to OK sales of WP7 devices.
- Of those 5 stores, 2 stores sold 2 models, 3 stores sold 1 model.
- In all 13 stores, between 25-50 handsets would have been on display in each store on all platforms.
- Only 1 store (Mall kiosk) had any form of Point of Sale information (other than handset tag info).
- Only 4 of 13 stores spoken to demonstrated any knowledge of Nokia and WP7.
Some interesting (disheartening) observations whilst in store:
Additionally the Mozart was in emergency call lockout, and could not be demoed.
Mis-labelling and other errors were not uncommon. This HTC Salsa is quite the Trophy! This handset and store however was the ONLY retail outlet that featured ANY WP7 point-of-sale material – a small HTC blurb/handout on the device.
And not from Frankston, but from my own snap in another SE suburb Optus store (last week) and from local Melbourne WP7 Developer and enthusiast Garry Holden – major factual errors also exist in-store (check the OS quoted in each pic here). The first pic even made it to WPCentral via social media!
So what does this all say about Windows Phone in Australia?
If you’re a glass-half full type of person, then you will focus on the significant opportunity for improvement for Windows Phone in Australia, and probably hope Nokia’s arrival in Q1 2012 here significantly builds the brand and sales figures in conjunction with the work of the new Microsoft Australian Marketing appointee for Windows Phone. Throw in Windows 8 and the forthcoming XBOX Design update for device convergence of experience in 2012 – stream with your Zune Music Pass Yazz singing the only way is up and look to next year!
However, on the flip side – with the glass way more than half empty – Windows Phone has the proverbial mountain to climb in Australia based on this single-suburb retail experience. Combine this with apparent Telco disinterest in the platform (website presence, promotion, store stocking, social media commentary, lack of new handset announcements etc) and if Nokia is not the White Knight to save WIndows Phone – it could well languish as a niche enthusiast handset with the best User Interface and Experience people never tried….If this is the case, then Microsoft might need to have very deep pockets indeed – and prepare for a lengthy investment with slow gains not unlike the decade spent getting the XBOX to the prime console offering position in the market…..