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Thread: Microsoft (Decline Of)

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There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.

Windows Phone - Cargo Cult OS


Chronogical Blog Entries:



Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2012 09:58:22 +1000

Recently your humble blogger found himself on a tram travelling out of Melbourne in the evening. On almost all the seats on this tram, citizens were hunched over various digital mobile devices ... It has been a while since your blogger has commuted regularly to and from the Melbourne CBD. And the change in reading material was quite obvious. There were two things which caught your blogger's humble attention:

First of all, what happened to the newspapers? When your blogger was a regular commuter, the tram was full of other commuters reading various newspapers. Those broadsheets were particularly tricky ... And turning the pages on a crowded tram was skill that new commuters had to master.

Now almost all of the commuters were reading and or tinkering with mobile devices.

Secondly, your blogger wondered ... Where are the Windows Phones? The nearest device was a Kindle. Adjacent were a Samsung Galaxy S2 and an iPhone. Across the aisle were another two iPhones, another Android smart phone and an iPad. Along the aisle there were more iPhones, Android smart phones and an Android tablet. Now your blogger is no expert on mobile devices, but the distinctive clunky look of the Windows Phone operating system is unmistakeable and it seemed to be absent on this particular Wattle Park tram.

Of course this is a non-representative sample. And there may be hundreds of thousands of Windows phones on other tram lines in the greater Melbourne metropolis.

But to date, your humble blogger has not seen any.

Last month a Microsoft internal memo was leaked which shows that there is some concern, in Redmond, about this gap ... The memo was essentially an edict, prohibiting Microsoft employees from purchasing Apple products with company funds ... Although it did not say so explicitly, the products they were most concerned about where the iPhone and the iPad ... And since Microsoft has many thousands of employees, that should at least assure them of a few thousand sales (provided they also ban Androids).

And then more recently, a story surfaced in the New York Times "Bits" column about the fact that Microsoft is paying developers to create Windows Phone versions of their software for the Windows Phone platform.

There are some who say that this decision to entice third party developers with cash is a sign of how determined Microsoft is to make their mark in the important mobile phone sector. And there are others, more cruel, who say that it is symptomatic of the problem facing the Windows Phone marketing team ... Which is not a lack of advertising and marketing or a shortage of developers ... Their biggest shortage is a shortage of buyers ... Nobody seems to be purchasing the Windows Phone.

Your blogger can't help offering his humble opinion that Apple is highly unlikely to issue a similar edict prohibiting the Apple sales and marketing team from purchasing Microsoft Windows Phones ... Peer pressure and the potential embarrassment of being seen with a Windows phone should suffice.

And as for paying developers to develop Software? Well it is all down to the fickle dictates of fashion and consumer perceptions. Products such as Apple's iPhone (and lately Google's Android) are perceived as cool, and suppliers have difficulty keeping up with demand. Developers are practically beating down the doors to get an opportunity just to get on board. The dilemma for the Windows marketing team is "How to convince consumers that Microsoft is really cool" ... Because it's actually very uncool to tell everyone how cool you really are. This is all frightfully unfair ... Apple (and Google) don't even have to tell us how cool they are because they are cool! Microsoft on the other hand must pay developers to develop product for the OS.

Certainly the hardware in the Windows phones seems to be impressive ... Although your blogger suspects that this may be because the Windows operating system consumes so much of the device's resources.

The new Lumia from Nokia is being advertised heavily and the money that Microsoft has pumped into the project may eventually persuade consumers to open their wallets and take out their credit cards ... Also the brand new Windows 8 will follow the bold (and one might say courageous) strategy of forcing Windows users to use the latest mobile interface on their desktop ... And still the cold hard logic of marketing in a new and rapidly expanding niche is difficult to argue with ... If the sales of your product don't grow at the same rate the market niche grows, your product is doomed.

And your humble blogger can't help opining that this seems to be reminiscent of "Cargo Cults". The tribes of New Guinea, when they encountered American and Japanese servicemen during the war, were impressed with how the new-comers (esp Americans) were able to bring goods in via air. After the war the Americans departed and there was no more "stuff" arriving on aircraft ... The tribes hoped to entice the aircraft back by building crude replicas of the landing strips and control towers. They reasoned that the aircraft had a will of their own, and it was the air-strips and associated paraphernalia that attracted them. In a like manner, Microsoft have built a crude replica of a mobile OS and all the trappings of an international distribution channel ... In the hope that it will attract consumers.

And it still might work! Your blogger has learnt humility from the hard old school of embarrassing inaccurate predictions ... And so will refrain from making any ... However if the aircraft don't start arriving soon, the Microsoft Mobile Cargo Cult OS may have to take a serious reality check.


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