Right at the moment, we are seeing the first real signs of a growth in momentum for Windows Phone around the world. On the heels of Nokia’s debut on the Windows Phone stage with their eye-catching UK and EU product launches, right through to the recently concluded CES 2012 conference. Here the HTC Titan II featured prominently – and the Nokia Lumia 900 won best smartphone of CES (by CNET and others). For the first real-time, the hype, expectation and profile of Windows Phone in North America, Europe and even Asia is building towards a more exciting future, beyond the early adaptors or Microsoft enthusiasts that constituted a high percentage of Year 1 customers.
So how does this translate DownUnder? Well – quite frankly, not that well right at this minute – but there IS cause for optimism. We only have 1 Generation 2 device launched earlier this week by Telstra…and per numerous past editorials and articles on this site…we have a long way to go to play catch-up to other markets. So, WPDownUnder has put come up with their TOP 10 adrenaline shots for WP7 in Australia to help propel it to being a serious OS contender in the general public’s eye for any new Smartphone purchase Down Under.
Without further adieu – let’s get right into it:
1. NOKIA. NOKIA. NOKIA
Nokia, with the financial and relationship backing of their partnership with Microsoft, is not only an exciting OEM bringing to market new WP7 devices. They are also the de-facto Marketing Machine for Microsoft on Windows Phone. With hundreds of millions of dollars each QTR in Year 1 of their product release cycle coming from MS to help cement the deal that saw Nokia leave behind their internal OS (Symbian/MeeGo) and embrace WP7, if Nokia can’t market Windows Phone in 2012 – then nobody will. WP7 in Australia needs Nokia urgently – and only this week the exciting news of the Lumia 800′s MARCH release on all 3 carriers DownUnder provides plenty of anticipation here. Check out these great Promotional events that Nokia have undertaken at Launch in the UK/Denmark as proof of their Marketing prowess vs. anything we have seen to-date on WP7.
Nokia Lumia Denmark Launch – “Something is AWESOME in the state of Denmark”
LINK to UK launch video.
2. IMPROVED POINT OF SALE / RETAIL EXPERIENCES FOR WP7
But of course, Promotional Launch events are not everything (anyone recall the Old Spice guy coming to Sydney to launch Windows Phone in Australia in 2010?) but thankfully Nokia at least appears to know exactly what needs to be done beyond the launch fanfare. Their Aussie MD, Mr. Chris Carr nailed it in a recent AFR interview when he stated:
“Getting the products to market is the first point. The next part of the challenge is to get consumers to understand how that proposition differs from the existing operating systems, which is basically iOS and Android.” Source: AFR
It’s about educating the market and new potential customers, primarily in the retail experience, about a new paradigm of how a Smartphone works for you. WPDownUnder strongly believe there is not a single initiative to-date that achieves this better than the recent CES #smokedbywindowsphone promotional clips featuring Ben The PC Guy. During these clips, he takes on all manner of smartphones in challenges showing the cohesiveness and efficiency of basic smartphone functions (posting social media updates, taking “the moment” photos, checking weather etc) as demonstrated by Windows Phone vs. the rest. They are fantastic videos – and the single best advertorial on Windows Phone by anyone yet. Here’s one – with a link to check out more.
So – let’s see these videos on display on a stand in retail stores…with a WP7 Demo handset directly under them. Why not feature “smokedbywindowsphone” – putting people first, and getting the job done fastest and easiest out of all the contenders in all the Telco outlets, or Try Mango now in-store and you will never look back!
Also, the retail experience requires Carrier staff to be knowledgeable (understand) and motivated (incentivized) to sell and promote WP7 as a real alternative. So, whether as talk in the US suggests, there are through-chain per unit sales incentives, rep contests (win awesome prizes for being best region WP7 sales rep) or other methods, we need to motivate the customer’s primary point of contact in the purchasing decision to better represent Windows Phone. Similarly, we also need to start with better familiarity. Staff need to take a WP7 handset home for a week, use it – get familiar with it. Microsoft need to release their new (US only) Retail Insider App to Australia and help get the chain educated. We need to leave well-behind us the poor retail experience experienced in 2011 and into a new era of equal access to and representation of WP7 for consumers.
3. MORE DEVICES, AT MORE PRICE POINTS.
So – fast forward to March 2012. Nokia has launched, we have an improved Retail experience under-pinning the store front for new Windows Phone customers. Great. However, all this will be pointless without a range of devices for customer’s to choose from and make that very personal decision. Smartphones choices today mirror closely the consumers self-image…whether it’s the “in-crowd”, the tech-savvy early adopter, the Mac guy, the PC-Guy….buying a modern smartphone is more than just the OS experience. It’s a marriage of functionality, software, hardware, image, design and more.
By March, we know we can expect to see;
- Telstra: Samsung Omnia W, Nokia Lumia 800
- Optus: Nokia Lumia 800
- Vodafone: Nokia Lumia 800
- TBC Nokia Lumia 710 on ???
That’s all we have at this point confirmed for DownUnder. Where is HTC with the Titan and Titan II to name a couple (will we see the 4G Titan II later this year?) – Where is LG….what about other Samsung Devices? Windows Phone DownUnder needs a stronger representation of devices to choose from…and we need this at more price points. Not everyone wants to spend $500+ outright on a handset, and some people still prefer post-paid over pre-paid plans with 24 month contracts to get devices. So Tango (the next major WP7 OS update expected) needs to be backed by more consumer choice at more price points. As we move further into 2012, this will become an important focus for Microsoft and their OEM partners. It also shows the value offering Nokia can bring to the Australian market this year, with the Lumia 710, 800 + 900 marketed sensibly across the widest price/specification range of a single OEM to date.
4. LTE/4G Devices.
4G, or LTE, is the way of the future. Currently all 3 Aussie Telco’s are at various stages of build/test in major capital cities of their next future generation mobile network. Telstra is most advanced, and only this week announced their first 4G launch device, an Android HTC Velocity. With CES 2012 seeing the launch of both the premium Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II LTE/4G handsets, it is imperative that these devices make their way to Australia and compete for this early adopter top-end device. With incredible 4G speeds, married to the Microsoft ecosystem (XBOX Live, Office, Zune Music Pass etc) – 4G Windows Phones OEM’s just need to alter the radio band for Australia’s initial LTE networks – and the market here is primed to buy-in.
5. Improved MS and OEM support/marketing (Carriers too)!
Whilst Nokia is likely to be the prime mover in 2012 for Marketing and Promotion of Windows Phone, we most definitely need to see Microsoft transitioning from their “soft launch” 2010-11 approach in Australia (let’s face it, if it had been an ice-cream…it would have been a puddle of mush on the hot pavement). Microsoft have a new paradigm in smartphones to position. Yes, we expect the Carriers and the Manufacturer’s to market Windows Phone – but at the end of the day it is Microsoft responsibility to directly – or via their supply chain partners to drive an awareness and differentiation wedge into the Android and iPhone dominated market perception. Where is the re-vitalised or re-launched Australian Windows Phone Blog page / Facebook page etc for Microsoft? Where are the competitions, broader community engagement and Windows Phone events in Australia.
Yes, of course we are a minor market when compared to volumes in North America or Europe etc. However we have the second largest (%) uptake of smartphones in the world – and a healthy economy by world standards. We expect a little more out of the war chest MS – and as mentioned above, use the amazing work of Ben the PC Guy and the #smokedbywindowsphone campaign here – get some mileage out of this real-world demonstration of Windows Phone kicking butt.
And OEM’s – Samsung and HTC need to lift their game particularly in Australia. We all know that the lion’s share of their handset revenue comes from Android handsets – but at least LOOK like you’re trying a little harder on Windows Phone folks…who knows, you might even be able to ride the wave Nokia will stir here if you get out there and market the products a little!
6. Improved Software Update Process for customers.
The recent decision by Microsoft to stop maintaining and publishing a software update page for global Windows Phone markets was an unfortunate one. Simply, as well as informing and engaging their worldwide customer base on the topic of updates, this page served the two-fold purpose of naming and shaming the carriers that were dragging their heels on approving and deploying updates. These updates, whether bug fixes or feature improvements such as Tethering support, are part of the critical public perception of WP7 customers. More post-purchase dissonance has arisen from the handling of software updates than any deficiency or concern over the OS itself.
Carriers globally focus on new customers, new revenue streams – with the subject of post-contract signing software updates seemingly something they “may” get around to at some point. Right now, despite MS assurances of carriers not being able to skip two subsequent updates (each update is cumulative with prior changes rolled in) – we still have only 1 US carrier up to date. US Cellular skipped 7740, but is currently deploying 8107 (most recent update/fix) – yet ATT, Sprint & Verizon have NO public comment – like Telstra here, on their intentions with 7740/8107 updates. Whilst Telstra maintain a Software Update table for all OS’s (credit from WPDownUnder’s original idea/campaign to them last year on this) – it is badly out of date and in need of some overhaul. Vodafone provides regular weekly software updates, and do a reasonable job of communicating – and all three have Community forums, however dragging information on their intentions re: timings or status of software updates can be like extracting teeth, if you don’t just meet a wall of silence.
When compared to the luxury of Apple’s position of direct-issuing updates to devices without carrier approval, Microsoft may feel that the process is working smoothly between MS/OEM/Carrier – however their customers would beg to differ. Some additional respect, public engagement/management – and even better setting of expectations by all three of this process would provide a much-needed perception lift for Windows Phone. And Android and other OS’s could also benefit – since Windows Phone is not Robinson Crusoe in this area.
Don’t forget – Aussie, Kiwi and United States Windows Phone customers can monitor their updates (and associated carrier resources) via the “Where’s my Update” pages WPDownUnder is now managing for our readers: LINK
7. More major Business / Government App releases.
Whilst the Developer Evangelist program by MS has yielded strong results (see below) in some areas, one part of the Windows Phone ecosystems Australian’s have suffered on in contrast to their North American WP7 owners has been on major Business/Enterprise and Government App releases for the platform. As well as region restriction, which sees some major App releases like Amazon or News and Media services in the US not being available in Australia, there has basically been a drought of major local company App releases for Aussie WP7 customers.
At launch, the Aussie WP marketplace saw a couple of Banks release Apps, a few companies like the 13CABS app – and a handful of other major corporation App’s. However the top end of town – be it Radio and Media, Services, Supermarkets or other areas have steered clear of developing WP7 versions of their Android/iPhone Apps. With small WP7 market share figures in Australia to date, and typically high internal or outsourced development costs for WP7 exclusive development – it may simply be a matter of Return on Investment (ROI) not presently being there, or a critical market mass not yet being reached. However it is a real Chicken and Egg scenario for MS DownUnder.
Similarly – following various discussions with the ABC management (technology area) and Victorian Government Departments IT officers – it will take a real lift in the profile of WP7 before we start seeing WP7 Apps being released alongside their current iOS and Android counterparts. Right now, this means Art and Cultural Apps, Emergency services Apps (eg CFA etc), ABC Tech Apps (streaming content, iView etc) and many private companies (Banks, Insurance, Travel etc) are not going to make their way to Windows Phone in the short to medium term.
Compounding matters further - we have unfortunate situations with the Carriers here. Telstra’s Foxtel WP7 App has been broken since the Mango update (not displaying individual channel guides), Optus have released their “My Account App” – but not on WP7 and Vodafone recently received much advertising during their Aussie Test cricket TV sponsorship – with a Vodafone Cricket App which was released on iOS and Android, but not for their HTC Trophy WP7 customers.
Like India in the cricket, we need a better effort here in Australia to help build and promote Windows Phone as a viable App alternative alongside the current market leaders.
8. Continued Developer, Developer, Developer support at independent and small end of town.
From the outset, Microsoft understood that any new Smartphone ecosystem today would not even make it past the starting gate without a strong App Store / Marketplace. One of the critical success factors in Yr1+ for Microsoft has been the engagement and support they have shown in winning over new and existing developers to their new ecosystem. From the Evangelist programs (worldwide MS staff and MVP’s), Tools and resources (AppHub, Dev. Blog, Software tools, Android/iOS port focus etc) to the free or loan phones and Marketplace tokens for selected new-starter Dev’s, the first 14 months of Windows Phone 7 has seen a great deal of success here.
With a strong initial focus on quality App development, the App marketplace has grown to 10K, 20K etc key App quantity milestones faster than any previous platform. In Australia, we have seen MS sponsored Developer Workshops, Deep Dives, competitions for Dev’s etc. As well as local Evangelists like Dave Glover at MS – we have also seen the likes of Brandon Watson and Ben Lower in the States reach out and be prepared to engage around the world to WP7 Dev’s needing a hand. More of this needs to continue in 2012 – especially as the wave of new interest hits with the launch of Nokia in Australia. So well done to MS on this one, and keep up the great work here and overseas.
Dev’s, don’t forget WPDownUnder’s very own ROI (return on investment) OR breakeven calculator you can download at no cost (donations welcome however!) to help work out your returns based on development costs, price points (charged) and number of marketplace downloads/conversions to sales. Grab it from the bottom of this post HERE.
9. Get Win8 to market with App Store, Metro styling & Tablet/WP7 crossover.
Much has been written and said about the next Windows release due later in 2012. When it debuts – with its Metro re-design, App Store, scalable specs for ARM, Tablet and Desktop release – and finally the eventual cross-over with the Windows Phone platform, it will all be about convergence. Naturally, this will build an even more compelling argument for customers to move into the Microsoft ecosystem, and is likely to deliver a further shot in the arm for Windows Phone (WP8). This one can’t really be hurried – and Microsoft are sure to have much of their resources and efforts focused on this massive overhaul – with hardware makers ready in the wings to deliver products to complement and capture new opportunities with Windows. Expect to see this wave begin to hit Windows Phone from around Q4 2012 sometime DownUnder.
10. Support the local WP7 community & sites like WPDownUnder more.
Finally, and in a closing moment of gratuitous self-promotion, Microsoft, OEM’s, Carrier’s and other partners should be looking at value-for-money opportunities to link into the local WP7 enthusiast community. As a valuable source of feedback, the current customer base and supporters of Windows Phone in Australia are a knowledgeable and engaging community. Sites like WPDownUnder can provide a unique and direct access to its readers here and around the globe.
Earlier this week, WPDownUnder was appreciative of the rare opportunity to exclusively launch Telstra’s new Gen2 WP7 handset – the Samsung Omnia W, with strong interest shown in this first new launch in Australia. Similarly, WPDownUnder is looking forward to the opportunity to work with Nokia as the Lumia range launches here – in what I’m sure – will be the biggest and best WP7 launch Australia has seen!
So whether it’s on software updates, new devices, technical support, customer/market feedback – WPDownUnder is encouraging Samsung, HTC, Optus, Vodafone etc to build a communication bridge to its market via interest sites like this and engage on Windows Phone DownUnder.
Who knows what might come of it?
So there you have it. This is our Top 10. What have I missed? What have I stuffed up on? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 2012 is going to be a great year for Windows Phone, and the arrival this week of the first Gen2 handset at Telstra in the Samsung Omnia W, is just the start of some positive adrenaline shots for WP7 DownUnder!