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Windows Phone – The Current State of Things

I recently bought a Windows Phone after thoroughly speculating over whether I should go for a budget Android phone or not. I believe it’s important to first decide which operating system one wants when looking to buy a smartphone, and then decide on which model to buy. It wasn’t an easy decision to make – Android, with its open-source goodness, would be the choice for most people. For me though, there was something about the Windows Phone that just made me want it – I think the fluidity of the OS, the native integration of social media and the typography made me fall in love with it. Ultimately, I decided to go for it and bought the best one there was at that time (the Lumia 920). You could say this was more of a heart-over-brain decision, but I haven’t had any regrets yet. Microsoft has done a great job at building an extremely easy-to-use, intuitive operation system with Nokia complementing it with its brilliant hardware and that stunning camera. Windows Phone came out all ready with plans to eat into the market share of Android and iOS.

It has been 9 months now since ‘Windows Phone 8’ was released, and although it is gaining traction, it hasn’t exactly set the smartphone arena on fire.

Mobile-Operating-System-Market-Share

The current smartphone market is utterly dominated by Android followed by iOS, the former having a 75% market share and the latter having a 17.3% market share (totaling up to 92.3%). Windows Phone 8, ever since its launch way back in October, 2012, has grown to a 3.2% share, leapfrogging over the continuously falling BlackBerry OS, which is at 2.9%. By these stats, it’s easy to conclude that Windows Phone is not even close enough to put a dent in Google and Apple’s share. The slightly-slow growth can be attributed to a lot of different reasons which we’ll take a look at below.

The Problem Areas

While there are numerous reasons for consumers to shy away from a Windows Phone, I believe the following are the primary causes:

  • Lack of apps – this sole point is the major reason why nobody wants to buy a Windows Phone. You will hear a lot of consumers say, “It doesn’t have Temple Run 2, Instagram, Vine, Dropbox, etc.” and will brush it off, not even taking a look at what the phone actually offers. The lack of apps is a deal-breaker for many.
  • Operating System Restrictions – You cannot download any songs/videos from the internet and save it to your gallery; heck, you can’t even do that using apps (WhatsApp, for instance). You can’t install 3rd party applications and there is no file manager for Windows Phone – these features seem to put off a lot more consumers than you might think.
  • No Notification Center – the lack of a unified notification center (something people are used to seeing on Android and iOS) is not there on Windows Phone. A lot of users find it difficult to keep track of all their app notifications and Live Tiles simply cannot cover for it.
  • Not a budget phone – Windows Phones don’t fall under the low-price budget bracket. Most of their phones are pricy – this makes market penetration is countries like China and India difficult.

This is the story of Windows Phone; rather, this WAS the story.

What Microsoft and Nokia have done about it

Looking for apps? Windows Phone currently has almost every app that needs to be there. Yes, there is no official Instagram, Vine or Dropbox client; however, so many unofficial applications for these services exist (Instance, 6Sec, etc.) and they work just as well as the official app, if not better. After having gone through countless apps on the Store myself, I do feel that the ‘lack of apps’ concern has been exaggerated a lot more than it currently is. The only concern lies in getting some of the bigger, more popular apps, and it’s not something that is in their hands. One certainly can’t blame their marketing efforts for this – Nokia has been pushing to get companies to get their apps on Windows Phone since the start, and it does look like it has bore some fruit. Bryan Biniak, VP and General Manager of Global Partner and App Development at Nokia mentioned recently, “By the end of the year, there’ll be very few, if any, key applications that aren’t in the development pipeline or published.” – this can only mean good news.

The operation system restrictions exist for a purpose, and that is mainly associated with security. Apple’s iOS has similar restrictions too, and yet no one seems to have any problem with it.

Microsoft has already planned for the inclusion of a Notification Center along with other features in the next major update, so that’s something that should be resolved soon enough.

The ‘not a budget phone’ isn’t even a problem anymore. Nokia has released the Lumia 520, 620 and 720 which are well in the affordable range for many users. Windows Phone has been selling well in Asia Pacific – the US market is where their major concern lies. One thing that really favors the Windows Phone is that the OS experience doesn’t change with the handset. This is completely contrasting to the case of Android phones where the low-budget ones tend to be extremely laggy and cannot handle multitasking well.

All in all, it has been a slightly rocky start for Windows Phone 8. Microsoft seems to be listening to consumer feedback very seriously and is continuously developing towards a near-perfect OS – I say near-perfect because there is no such thing as a perfect OS. Nokia has put everything at stake on Windows Phone, and it shows in their marketing efforts. Looking at the things lined up ahead, it does seem like the road for Windows Phone is about to get a lot smoother.

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