Windows Phone in 2012 is beginning it’s surge in Australia. With new handsets, new manufacturer’s and a growing level of interest that has begun moving out of its Year1 tight-knit community of enthusiasts and early adopters and is ready to make the leap to mainstream. At this pivotal time, it’s worth asking the question…and what about Microsoft Australia? Sure, behind the scenes they are undoubtedly working stoically to build and improve Carrier partnerships for Windows Phone, deploy and execute on Retail training for carriers and work with OEM’s for device launches in Australia, with Nokia being a natural priority. However where is the public face of Microsoft and Windows Phone Down Under?
Last week, WPDownUnder exclusively launched Telstra’s new – and Australia’s first – Generation 2 Windows Phone handset (thanks to the Telstra Social Media Team for this honour), the Samsung OmniaW. With this “Pocket Rocket” kicking-off the range of Windows Phone “Mango” handsets, this announcement was quickly followed by the confirmation of Nokia’s Australian debut with its exciting new Lumia range of WP7 devices from March. Rumours of HTC’s imminent arrival with new devices – and the lure of 4G/LTE Windows Phones before the middle of the year auger well for device availability here. The drought is finally breaking.
Casting our eyes over the horizon, we have seen exciting major events across US markets for Windows Phones. From competitions via Twitter, the US official Windows Blog and at industry functions – right through to public promotional activities – even social “inner circle” or “Spend the Night with Windows Phone” parties featuring popular indie bands or celebrity guests across the USA. The States have also seen the launch of the “Retail Insider App”. A sales persons take on the WP Insider App, this has been designed to complement the Retail partner training of Carrier staff and help drive better customer purchase experiences in store. This is presently only available in the US WP7 marketplace.
US EVENTS/ACTIVITIES FOR MANGO GEN2 DEVICE PROMOTIONS:
The 6-storey Windows Phone (Source: WP7 Blog.)
Moving to the UK, Microsoft’s efforts there to promote and market Windows Phone have often been innovative or unique over the past 12 months. From their early App promotion, via online and in-store magazines, to their Mango Facebook Demo of Windows Phone, grabbing your Facebook contacts to fill-in an interactive experience on your PC. In late 2011, they even launched a Windows Phone rewards program. This was accompanied by the “Into” App, which allowed WP7 owners to register activities such as viewing the Blog pages, showing friends the phone and other activities to go into prize draws as more points were accrued. Accrued points could also trigger access to partner rewards such as shopping discount coupons. Very innovative.
The UK “Ambassador” for WIndows Phone is Blur bassist, Alex James. Here he is in a MS UK feature video linked to the “Into” App and a promotional event. For something a little more awesome, check out his “day job” with this amazing Blur performance of one of their greatest hits live from Hyde Park in 2009 (LINK).
Microsoft describe the “Into” App in the UK marketplace as:
What is ‘into’ by Windows Phone? ‘into’ by Windows Phone is a social rewards programme for Windows Phone owners, their friends and family and indeed anyone who wants to discover more about Windows Phone and help spread the word by tweeting, sharing or liking via the ‘into’ app on Facebook or mobile. You’ll get into hand-picked offers, money can’t buy experiences, content and articles from top UK contributors and have access to really unique events. To get into even more rewards, offers and content, go to www.intowindowsphone.com on the Windows Phone Facebook UK page and click ‘Like’. Source: WP7 UK Marketplace
With a dedicated App, Blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts – along with initiatives like above, the UK official Microsoft Marketing efforts have been differentiated and substantial in promoting Windows Phone in their market.
Back here in Australia, Microsoft have no dedicated Windows Phone Twitter account or Facebook page. The official Australian Microsoft Blog section for Windows Phone section had a total of 6 posts in 2011. Here, Microsoft has focused on major industry events (TechEd, The Big Picture etc), with little direct marketing focus on Windows Phone itself. Developer Evangelist events aside, it’s hard to remember a specific public promotion, event, competition or advertising activity for Windows Phone by Microsoft since the “MS” sponsorship of the TV show “The Block” in 2011 or Telstra’s Free movie Tickets with a HTC Mozart (if MS were even involved with this). There was of course the very significant recent “Edge of the Internet” competition in Australia – with a massive $20K prize for the person that could track down “Dave”. This received some strong MS local promotion, however with just over 500 people registered for entry, and a predominately IE9 focus – it unlikely Windows Phone saw much benefit from this initiative.
WPDownUnder reported back in NOV 2011 Microsoft’s advertised Channel Marketing Role for WP7, which had a specific focus on Carrier and OEM Marketing, promotion and training efforts to bring about improved retail experiences for Windows Phone. However, aside from this role, this site can only speculate on the number of specific dedicated Marketing roles for Windows Phone. WPDownUnder is only left with questions over the resourcing and/or budget Microsoft globally have set aside for the Australian business and market.
Obviously, there would be an expectation of Nokia to lead a concerted promotional effort for Windows Phone, tied to their new Lumia device range launching here from March. The strategic and financial partnership between Nokia and Microsoft globally has delivered Nokia hundreds of million dollars each QTR in Year1 to cement their WP7 strategic platform decision, and to bring their considerable consumer marketing experience to the table for this OS. However, based on the Marketing events and activities Microsoft in the UK and US have been able to deliver, especially since the launch of Mango and the debut of Gen2 devices, the obvious question is where is Microsoft Australia in all this?
Nokia is almost here. Australia’s first Gen2 phone launched here last week and LTE/4G devices are rumoured to be in test/evaluation for this market. Any critical assessment of the performance of Carriers and OEM’s in this country over Windows Phone must extend to reviewing the public Marketing and promotion efforts of Microsoft on WIndows Phone in Australia. All WPDownUnder can say is that it has indeed been a soft, soft launch.
Microsoft, it’s your move.