You may not know this, but this is the year for Windows. So says none other than Steve Ballmer, head of beleaguered Microsoft as partner Nokia announced the newest Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 smart phones just days ahead of Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5.
Nokia’s stock took another dive. It’s so low these days that Apple could buy the whole company with just last quarter’s profits. Meanwhile, MSFT remains mostly flatlined for the past 10 years.
What’s going on?
By many accounts Microsoft has created a unique, useful, elegant smart phone OS in Windows Phone. Many other accounts praise Nokia’s Lumia lineup as being the best smart phones south of iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, both commercial successes.
If the new Lumia is so good then why are people not lining up to buy one? Because Microsoft and Nokia are more concerned about shooting themselves in the foot vs. executing a well thought out plan (which gives them both benefit of the doubt and assumes a plan).
Windows Phone is good. Nokia’s Lumia hardware is good, so what’s the problem?
It’s the Surface tablet problem all over again. When will the phones launch? What will they cost? Which carriers will sell the phones?
If Microsoft or Nokia knows, they’re not telling.
Elsewhere, Ballmer said “Make no mistake about it, this is a year for Windows. Windows Phone. Windows tablets, Windows PCs, this is a year for Windows.”
Yeah, right. Windows everywhere. We’ve heard that line before. Unfortunately, customers are not buying it again.
Here’s the problem with Microsoft’s highly touted Windows Phone OS and the smartly designed and feature laden new Lumia smart phones.
Too little. Too late.
In the five years since Apple launched the iPhone, only Google and their manufacturing partners frantic efforts to copy Apple have kept them from disaster. The iPhone was a disruptive device. The simplicity and elegance and ease of use made it the darling of early adopters, and created a groundswell of popularity as mainstream phone users switched to the iPhone.
Microsoft and Nokia were caught totally flatfooted and have paid an enormous price in sales losses and market share. How can they get it back?
It won’t be with Windows Phone or Nokia’s Lumia line, as nice as both may be. Why not? They’re not disruptive. Some features of each here and there may be better than the iPhone, but being just a little better here and there can’t be a marginal game when you’re so far behind. Microsoft and Nokia must be much, much better to be disruptive.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If a newcomer wants to disrupt the market leader, they need a product that’s obviously better and has more features at the same price or lower. Or, they must have the same features and quality at a much lower price.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Nokia’s new Lumia hardware are too little too late. Switching to an iPhone from any previous phone was a no-brainer. The iPhone was that good, that different, and has only improved.
Why should smart phone owners switch from iPhone or Android to Windows Phone and a Lumia 920? What’s the compelling reason for the masses to switch? A slightly better camera? Tiles vs. icons? An hour or two more of battery life (I made that up; Nokia isn’t giving much details about their new wares). A slightly bigger screen size?
The answer is simple. There isn’t a compelling reason to switch to Windows Phone or Nokia Lumia 920 because neither is sufficiently disruptive to the market leaders.
Still, this really could be the year of Windows. The year Windows died.