Windows Phone is the 3rd major OS in the modern Smartphone market. Let’s not split hairs for the likes of RIM with its steady decline (share price, market share, executive management changes etc). The Nokia-Microsoft partnership and Nokia’s re-entry to the US market will drive share improvements for Microsoft and Windows Phone. As Blackberry has lost share to Google and Android, it will now face stiffer WP7 competition and is likely to be the prime victim of initial WP7 share incremental growth in the US. So Android, iOS and Windows Phone. These are the triumvirate of mobile smartphones for 2012 into the mid-term. As Microsoft has struggled in Year 1 of its life to promote and capture the public’s attention over its re-imaginang of a modern mobile OS, likewise the treatment of Windows Phone by tech sites and industry watchers has frequently been indifferent, if not outright hostile to begin with.
Any number of examples exist from 2011. Whether it was perceived biased coverage of Windows Phone at Engadget in 2011, Gizmodo’s initial exclusion of WP7 Apps from App of the Day, CrowdSupport at Telstra’s initial launch with no Windows Phone dedicated forum – tech sites, retailers and other bodies have often paid scant attention or all together ignored Microsoft’s new OS. With low share (latest US ComScore survey shows <5% for MS total smartphone OS share), one might superficially say the platform has not merited any additional attention due to its slow uptake and small user-base.
However Microsoft has committed to the mid-long term future of its Metro styled mobile OS. With Metro overhauls of it’s XBOX interface and the major Windows 8 re-invention with converging Metro styling, Microsoft are on record with the example of the XBOX that they are prepared to take a long haul approach. Add to this the billion dollar plus partnership with Nokia, who have abandoned their former in-house competing smartphone platform and bunkered down with Microsoft, and Windows Phone is the overwhelming underdog gearing up to try to tackle the big two.
So any argument that WP7 is too niche, unimportant or not meriting serious attention in tech media coverage is a flawed outlook. Furthermore, it just generates another proverbial Chicken and Egg argument. Unfortunately, inaction by tech sites and media commentors largely just reinforces the status quo and ensures that the market leaders receive less scrutiny and the public stay more broadly unaware of Windows Phone as a serious and innovative alternative. WPDownUnder has spent enough time looking at what Microsoft, Carrier’s and OEM’s can do to help turn this around…so let’s turn our sights on a tech sites/social media services that are commonly used here in Australia. We will focus on two; the peerless Australian tech site Whirlpool and secondly the globally recognised KLOUT social media ranking and monitoring service.
The Australian Whirlpool website and its User-Forums are without doubt, the runaway number 1 tech site in the country. As a long-time user, WPDownUnder has received and provided countless support on any range of topics through the years. In actual fact, this very site (WPDownUnder) was born out of the tight-knit and enthusiast Windows Phone community contained within. Whilst the site has the largest online discussion and support forum for WP7 in Australia, WPDownUnder is not alone in the frustration over the site’s Admin’s refusal to position Windows Phone in a logical and rational place alongside iOS and Android smartphones in the main menu.
The recurring defense by Admins/mods for any change at Whirlpool on this position has been the line that “when enough posts/topics/threads are created for Windows Phone, we will consider it getting its own standalone forum”. Whilst this has remained their policy, it is quite clearly a flawed argument when you look at the fragmentation and inconsistencies in the structure of the main OS/choices for smartphones in the Forums menus. WPDownUnder has broken this structure down for easy consideration.
As can be seen, Windows Phone exists as a “End Topic” within the general mobile phones sub-forum. Individual thread discussions for Windows Phone sit under this topic, with no other topics/sub-forums available to Windows Phone to filter down the discussion threads. To further complicate matters, Windows Phone threads may also sit under the LG, Nokia or Samsung OEM sub-forums in the general mobile phone section. This drives fragmentation of the Windows Phone discussions - and reduces the overall visibility of Windows Phone at Whirlpool as well as contributing to a lower reportable Windows Phone thread count, actually working against the stated Admin position on how Windows Phone can actually achieve its own ”front-page” standing with Android and iOS.
As a practical example, the second largest current/recent discussion under the Nokia thread is a Lumia 800 thread (with 42 pages), a Windows Phone that is not even launching here till March 2012. By contrast, the largest Nokia post (74 pages) is for the N9 – a phone launched in September 2011. By the Time the Lumia launches here, it may have 70-80% of the post traffic of the N9, a four-month old device. *EDIT* Thanks to WPool user Gunk’N'Stuff – who correctly points out that I was not comparing apples with apples here. The correct example was PRIOR to launch, the Nokia N9 had over 100 pages (2-full parts) – with the Lumia 800 only having just under 40% of this equivelant post count! I sit corrected!
The basic inequality of this situation, leaves many pondering if this is deliberate or procedurelised evidence of bias resulting in fragmented Windows Phone conversations, making it harder for novices to interact with Windows Phone discussions. Ultimately it works against Windows Phone elevating itself to an areas of better visibility and improved structure/management at Whirlpool. Compare if you will, the Android section, once sub-forums are allowed – eg Samsung:
As opposed to the Windows Phone sub-forum (under general mobile) with no further sub-forums to assist interaction and efficient use, muddled as it appears without additional sub-forums to group logicial threads:
Simply from a useability perspective, the Admin team at Whirlpool should be reviewing this situation and correcting the flaws inherent in their usual procedural explanation for the “status quo”, rather than inaction, no replies and/or criticism of those that have been trying to demonstrate these issues to them.
In this spirit, WPDownUnder has also proposed a solution to the current impasse – one should never criticise or highlight a problem without bringing a potential solution to the table. Accordingly, the following PDF has the full “as is” as well as a “proposed NEW” forum structure for Windows Phone.
As I cannot link to this myself at the Whirlpool forums (or I would be in breach of the self-promotion/advertising of your own website) – I invite any of the Whirlpool admins to contact me here and offer their feedback.
LINK: PDF Whirlpool Smartphone Forum Structure HERE.
Finally, WPDownUnder also wanted to give a brief shout-out to KLOUT. Klout is the online ranking/scoring/analysis service that attempts to collate, review and then publish individuals online social media influence. Other users (and Klout themselves) look at your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc interactions with friends, followers and other online users to assign Topics and measures (KPI’s if you like) that show your reach and credibility online in these areas.
For over three months WPDownUnder and other online friends and users of KLOUT have attempted to have the supposedly simple task of having “WINDOWS PHONE” added as a topic. Whilst iOS and Android have a minimum of 4 seperate topics each, Microsoft’s Windows Phone has no topic. This basically renders much of the accuracy and use of KLOUT’s service for enthusiasts of this platform as useless. Despite email, twitter, Klout and other notifications (some replies were received), WPDownUnder has not received a single satisfactory explanation of WHY this topic does not exist, HOW it can be added, WHO can do this or WHEN this can be done.
Terrible service either way – and the refusal to suitably engage or explain their actions or position leaves one wondering at what other factors may be behind this situation. Having influence only awarded for “smartphones” or “Microsoft” – when it actually should be attributed to “Windows Phone” also raises questions re: the accuracy and relevance of the service they purportedly provide.
In February 2012, there really is no excuse any longer for any reputable cross-platform tech site or service to be ignoring, disadvantaging or exhibiting bias towards the Windows Phone OS.
All Whirlpool pictures/screenshots (c) whirlpool.net.au, All Klout images (c) KLOUT