The iPhone Funeral Won’t Save the Windows 7 Phone

by Chris Seibold Sep 13, 2010

Funerals are usually somber occasions: the death of a loved one, pet or motherboard is not generally a cause for giddiness. Yet, last Friday a funeral with an unusual amount of giddiness and humor was going on. The mourners even danced like a cell block full of Filipino prisoners.  The place? The Microsoft campus in Redmond. The departed? iPhones and Blackberries. Want to know more? Read the story.

Most people will say that the funeral was just a little bit of fun, some good-natured corporate jabs. Those people would be right. But while they are enjoying Microsoft's jabs at Apple and RIM when the Windows 7 phone arrives, no amount of mocking other products will save them from the horrible fact that Windows 7 has a very good chance of coming into the world still born. (Engineers will be laid off, managers will be sacked and Steve Ballmer will keep wondering what he can do to get the old magic back, you get the picture).

How can we say such a thing? Windows 7 phone still born? Imagine the Windows 7 phone is the greatest phone ever, can you see yourself standing in line for one? Likely not, and the reason is that you won't believe it's the greatest phone of all time even if it is.

This doesn't seem quite right. If the Windows 7 phone is the greatest handheld device ever made won't the masses swoop in to snap it up? In the old days that was the likely scenario, Microsoft could slap the company's logo on just about anything and have an instant hit. But this is the era of the iPhone. And in the the era of "i" Microsoft's name doesn't generate the same excitement as it once did. It will truly have to make a product so superior that consumers see through the now classic Microsoft snake oil.

For this, Microsoft has only its self to blame. At one time Microsoft was a strong player in the mobile market, but once the iPhone showed the world what smart phones should be, Microsoft became a bit player. People saw Microsoft-powered phones as just another crappy cell phone experience. All of a sudden, people wanted nothing to do with Microsoft phones.

Still, it would have been possible for Microsoft to redeem the company name but Microsoft made every misstep possible and a few no one could imagine. The first thing Microsoft got wrong was having a crappy cell phone OS to start with. Here is the premier OS maker in the world, the company that spends more RD dollars than any other company. That's a lot of dough but before the iPhone came out people were loving the RAZR. If you've ever used a RAZR you know it was a fine phone with a horrible OS but Microsoft was unable to make an OS compelling enough to have a competitive advantage over the RAZR.

Then things got worse. In response to the success of the iPhone Microsoft released Windows Phone 6.5 This was never planned to be, Microsoft had planned to wait until Windows Mobile 7 but hey, stopgap measure and all. To compound things Microsoft released the Kin.

Internally these moves probably made sense. The Kin promised to leverage the world of social media on your phone, but apparently, Microsoft didn't realize that people were already doing the social thing on iPhones. Windows Phone 6.5 probably made a lot of sense because of the glaring deficiencies. In the larger scheme of things, all these moves did is hurt the image of Microsoft in the smart phone world.

Steve Jobs once said that he was proudest of the things Apple didn't release and with Microsoft you can see why that is a good strategy. Instead of telling you how great Windows 7 is, how long the company held off to get something perfect to it's users Microsoft is telling everyone "That earlier stuff we did was pure crap, but you'll love it this time!" Trouble is, no one believes it. How can you take a company seriously when it sees it's user as contemptible morons who will put up with hurried kludges and ill-advised moves to glom on to the latest thing?

If those problems weren't bad enough, Microsft has two more huge problems on its hands in the mobile world. The first problem is that the contemptible morons  generally have room for only two companies in their heads in any given market. Right now, their world is all iPhone versus Android. (Actually, it is probably a question of whether they want AT&T and the iPhone or if they are willing to put up with Android on another carrier, but I digress).

The second problem, perhaps a more serious problem, is that another company has taken Microsoft's business model and been much more successful. The business model of Microsoft is to generate the software and let others come up with hardware. It hasn't worked for Microsoft in the mobile world, but it has worked for Google. There's a kajillion phones all based on Android. Cell phone makers are rushing out new Android phones on what seems like a daily basis. When someone uses your business model and beats you like a red-maned-government-step-mule you know things have gotten pretty bad.

How does the still mighty Microsoft become so irrelevant in such an important market? It seems Microsoft has become obsessed with stats instead of products. Recall when Mr. Ballmer said "Apple sold more iPads than I'd like them to sell." When speaking to analysts. That statement tells you all you need to know about the corporate governance and corporate mindset of Microsoft. This is a company who has stopped worrying about making the next great thing, a company that has stopped worrying about making the best product possible and started hoping everyone else sucks more.



  • ROTFL!!! Thank you. Made my Monday.

    Khürt Williams had this to say on Sep 13, 2010 Posts: 45
  • Thanks Khurt and Ray.

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Sep 13, 2010 Posts: 354
  • Microsoft better not let their fans down this time, because if WP7 turns out to be a failure, then it is going to be game over for them. -Tire Works

    Tire Works had this to say on Aug 10, 2011 Posts: 12
  • Microsoft wants to be involved in way too many projects at the same time. That is why they have so many epic fails. Look at how voip phones emerged on the market. At the beginning, nobody knew what it was all about, but with time, voip technology became a major player on the market. Microsoft should concentrate on building the best operating system.

    IBMdude had this to say on Aug 22, 2011 Posts: 50
  • There are a lot of discussions on the margin of smart phones, but you have to take in consideration that text marketing still plays an important role and you don’t need a smart phone for that. Sometimes we need to focus on the present and connect to the future, but at a slower pace.

    annekingsy had this to say on Oct 15, 2011 Posts: 22
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