From the Editor's Desk: Pondering Windows Phone 8 on their launch day

Windows Phone Central
By Kevin Michaluk on 29 Oct 2012 05:18 am EDT
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Late Night Ramblings...

As I type this week's From the Editor's Desk post on a Sunday night/Monday morning at 4:30am, it's not BlackBerry that I'm thinking about at the moment, but Microsoft and Windows Phone.

Later today Microsoft will officially be launching Windows Phone 8. Our sister site Windows Phone Central has been long overdue for a site refresh, so we pushed out a big round of upgrades tonight - an updated site to celebrate the launch of an updated phone OS. We pulled the trigger a few hours ago and have been dealing with the usual post launch fixes, but things are nicely under control now. I *should* be heading to bed, but Miss CrackBerry needs a ride to the airport at 5:30am for a work trip, so I figured I'm better off staying awake at this point. If my typos are worse than usual in this post, forgive me, I'm writing this with blurry, tired eyes.

Hanging out on our Windows Phone site all night working on the relaunch, I couldn't help but notice the parallels between our two communities at the moment. The Windows Phone community has been waiting with high expectations of Windows Phone 8 just as we're waiting with high expectations for BlackBerry 10. I'm a little envious of them as I can't help but have those feelings that we should be going through pre-launch excitement right now too. When I committed back in April to growing out my hair until BlackBerry 10 phones became available for sale, I was under the impression we'd see BlackBerry 10 hit in Q4 2012. In other words, I should have been getting a haircut any day now. But new Windows Phone 8 phones (that's weird to type and say) will be available for purchase in just a few days, and I still have a few months of waiting and hair growth to endure for BB10.

As much as the waiting sucks, I've come to terms with it now, as I think a lot of CrackBerry users have who have made the committment to stick it out for BlackBerry 10. I still have a lot of faith in the launch of BlackBerry 10. The sooner it gets here the better of course -- RIM is losing out every single day that BB10 is not on the market -- but get here it will. And when it does, I'm confident people will buy it. BlackBerry has 80 million subscribers today, and millions more that have left BlackBerry but are keeping their eyes on BB10. Even if you take a pessimistic cut of those people as looking to upgrade, it's still plenty of volume to get BlackBerry sales rocketing again in 2013. 

Thinking ahead to the success or failure of Windows Phone 8, it's hard for me to make a prediction as to which way things will go. Looking back at Windows Phone 7, it's almost laughable at how poorly it did. As I told Dan Rubino on our last Mobile Nations podcast, which he couldn't really argue with, BlackBerry left the door wide open for Windows Phone the past 18 months, and Windows Phone did nothing with it. They didn't outsell BlackBerry and they didn't make an impact with the average mobile consumer, despite putting a giant Windows Phone in Times Square. 

I think part of the issue Windows Phone 7 suffered from was a lack of a clear value proposition. To the average user walking down the street, they didn't know why they would or should buy a Windows Phone. Heck, there may have been an awareness problem too - I'm still not sure the average person knows what Windows Phone is. When the average person hears the name Windows, they're more likely to thing of an old work computer they hated using rather than a phone they want to run out to buy.

On the other hand, the average person has always had an understanding of what BlackBerry is about. They think business. They think communication. The average person has an understanding of the iPhone. It has apps. It's easy to use. And Android has gained mindshare too - they have phones with BIG screens, it's hackable and it has lots of free apps. Whether these stereotypes are right or wrong or only partially correct is somewhat irrelevant... what matters is that people at least have in their minds a clear idea that the phone is about something, and this is enough to attract a person towards a platform. The platform stands out with a purpose in the mix.

The real pitch for Windows Phone 7 was that it wasn't made by Apple and it wasn't Android. But that wasn't much of a pitch. With Windows Phone 8, the challenge for Microsoft and their hardware partners building Windows Phone 8 phones (god I hate typing that) will be to make people understand why they should want them. It's also going to be interesting to see how Windows Phone 8 phones compete directly against eachother to try to get the attention of customers over other Windows Phone 8 phones. A company like Nokia is all in on Windows Phone 8. But then you'll have a company like HTC offering two phones that look almost the same from a hardware perspective, but with one offering Android and the other offering Windows Phone 8 (think One X+ vs. 8X). Which one should a consumer buy?! It's going to get confusing and messy, yet what seems to work with consumers these days is simplicity. People like a clear message. 

Apple has only ever had the iPhone. All of the marketing dollars and brand equity go into that one phone. If you look at another currently successful device like the Galaxy S3, it's doing well from a sales perspective for similar reasons. I'd argue there are better Android phones on the market, but the fact the S3 is pretty much available on all carriers and has been marketed like crazy, it has risen above the noise of Android to gain recognition with the average consumer. People get that it's a good phone, with clear differences to the iPhone experience.  

I can't help but think Microsoft would have more success with making Windows Phone 8 successful if they had just one great Windows Phone 8 phone out there. It would keep things simple for them. And there are rumors now that Microsoft will build their own Surface phone as they have their own tablet. 

Despite being a little late to market, I think RIM will have a slightly easier time making the average customer aware of the value proposition of BlackBerry 10 phones than companies will have with Windows Phone 8. Everybody knows what BlackBerry historically has been known for. Launching BB10 will be a chance for the company to fill in all the gaps. RIM will be able to say YES, we still have the best keyboards -- whether keyboard or touchscreen -- and we also have apps and a great modern UI (and a bunch of other stuff that's unique to BB). It's a phone for people with priorities who do. It's not a phone for everybody, but for the people it's for, they'll get it and want it and buy it.

I feel like Microsoft is going to do the opposite with Windows Phone 8 - they'll try and make it appeal to everybody, but in the end because the message isn't clear enough you'll just see people opt back for the choices that are more clear in iOS and Android, and in a few more months, BlackBerry.

I guess we'll see though. In the meantime, while I wait for BB10, I'll probably pick up one of these Windows Phone 8 phones... I'll give it the World Tour go and let you know what I think of it once I spend some time on it. In the meantime, if you want to stay on top of all the Windows Phone 8 coverage, be sure to hit up WPCentral.com. I've looked around, and there's no better site on the net for Windows Phone stuff than that one. 

And let me know what you think... Windows Phone 8... six months from now... is it a real contender, or just catering to the Windows hardcore and picking up some sales on the sidelines? 

34 comments

Balti43

I guess we're all night owls tonight haha

xicoxicao

Actually I've been at work for two hours now. But then again I'm in Europe.

AVPTI

Sleep is for the weak

Kevin Michaluk

I'll catch up on sleep when I'm dead.

Bla1ze

Stop stealing my lines you damn hairy hippy!

3Dee

And stop stealing Bon Jovi's lines both of you ;)

NFLPLAYBOOK

Better check the airlines. I don't think the misses is going anywhere today or tomorrow for that matter.
I'm liking Windows 8 on my pcs and with the integration WP8 might sell ok. I think the synchronization might actually appeal to people. The overall hardware isn't all that bad either. I can see Android taking a hit with the release. I don't think iOS or BB will be affected as much.

whitbags

HTC have two almost identical phones but one packing Android and the other W8? That sounds like a recipe for failure, but what would I know.

I suspect Nokia will be the go-to choice, but the bright colour is very contemporary. I wonder if folks will generally like that.

JerryD

Perhaps you can ponder how to close those obnoxious pop up ads I get when I try to view an article on my BlackBerry, or even how to make it readable on a BlackBerry without having to zoom. I can read articles from other sites that automatically adapt for a mobile device fine. It's embarrassing that a BlackBerry site can't get that together.

Kevin Michaluk

Go to m.crackberry.com. No ads at all.

We do direct mobile devices to the mobile site, but the BB webkit browser wants to go to full desktop even when there is mobile detection. 

scalemaster34

Or that it is almost impossible to navigate the site using a PlayBook.

Too many links are so small you can't easily select the right one, and the adds on the right side are in the way of scrolling....

CarBob

Hey Kevin,

With the greatest respect, why are you writing about Windows Phone 8 on CrackBerry.com? I couldn't care less about WP8.

Also, do you know if RIM will be launching BB10 in January, 2013 or in March, 2013? This wait is a killer!! It would be helpful to us BlackBerry diehards if RIM would "throw us a bone" so to speak, and let us know. Am finding this long wait VERY frustrating.

Oh well,
KEEP ON TRUCKING !

Kevin Michaluk

CarBab. Did you even read the post?

A) It's my From the Editor's Desk... I write about whatever I want in this post each week. Maybe next week I'll write about my perfect method for making the world's greatest espresso.  

B) I'm still on my Mobile Nations World Tour. This fits the theme.

C) I still tied the article back to BlackBerry 10 in many spots.

D) Phil over on Android Central wrote about Windows Phone this week too in his From the Editor's Desk Post.

E) Do I really need to keep going on here?

:) 

CarBob

Yes Kevin, I read the post, and for that matter, always read your posts. Please see my apology for my rudeness.

SuperionMaximus

Windows Phone 8 in my opinion will do better then Windows Phone 7 but will still have a hard time in the market. Microsoft has been promising a viable alternative for 2 years now and failed to deliver and by orphaning Windows Phone 7.X users by breaking app compatibility in Windows Phone 8, you might not see to many current users stay in the ecosystem for fear Windows Phone 9 will be the same story.

That said, they have a few strengths too and the heavy Xbox integration will be a big factor I think. I don't see the Windows RT/8 UI similarities being a big deal to consumers today anymore then the Windows CE, XP and Mobile Similarities were last decade. I don't think consumers want the same UI on their phone as their desktop and it has not historically done Microsoft any good and I don't see a trend emerging where people make buying decisions based on UI similarities between their phone and computer. Another example is people with Android phones, still buy iPads. People don't care if the UI is identical.

kelton

The big "app" (if you will) for the Windows 8 phone is that it should work seamlessly with office and our Microsoft OS computers! Right?
In this regard, is should beat all other phones.
It is the only reason that I am considering the Windows 8 phone.
If I would an Apple OS guy, I would own the iPhone for the same reason.

CarBob

Hey Kevin,

Please accept my apology for picking on you about WP8 (in my earlier post). As I've said before, RIM/BlackBerry is very lucky to have a Cheerleader like you.

BLACKBERRY FOREVER !

ferre_kun

I like the idea of a windows phone, as I'm a windows user. But if I want one, I want it as a mini version of windows with all the programs running in mini version. Or as a mini xbox controller (I remember watching on tv a report about an xbox event that showed a kid using his windows phone as some kind of controlpad for his xbox). And I saw on fb that xbox will be connected not only with windows phone, but with windows surface too. If microsoft can set this right, it will be huge. And as I am a gamer too, I may want to get me xbox,windows phone and surface too.

xravishx

Actually, Xbox Surface is an app you can download for your touchscreen phone or tablet. I don't think an Android version is available yet, but Apple users should already have the app. There is also an app for Win8. I tried that one and found it pretty neat. It's made for touch screens, but it is still useable with the mouse anyway. I'm hoping to be able to use that app when it releases for Android so I can have it ported over to my Playbook since I highly doubt Microsoft is going to be releasing a Playbook app. Punks. :P

scalemaster34

"Everybody knows what BlackBerry historically has been known for. "

Do you believe that is a good thing?

123berryaddicted

Ya, hourclocks, battery pulls and software delays - go RIM!! Lol

ryanlrobinson

What I think will give Windows Phone 8 phones a real chance starting in about a year is the fact that it is the same interface across all Windows platforms. Once people get used to it on their laptop and their tablet, seeing it on their phone and sharing apps between all their devices will be a lot more attractive. Fortunately for RIM, BlackBerry will launch before that advantage can really play itself out.

birdman_38

Windows Phone, BlackBerry 10 and HTC for that matter are nothing without marketing behind it. Can you honestly say you've seen an ad for Windows Phone on TV? As nice as the product may be, Microsoft will never get to #3 in the smartphone race if they choose not to gain mindshare through effective marketing.

xravishx

I hope RIM goes with that advice too. They seriously need people who are ignorant about them to become wowed. Heck, I already want the phone and will buy it, but I still want to see it displayed in a wow'ing commercial. It'll make me feel better. :P

Rootbrian

For one, I won't physically install windows 8 on my computer. It'll be a virtual machine install to be exact, after I grab it from bittorrent, IF it's even made available.

This "restricted boot" shit put on newer computers is NOT what I'd want. Glad I'm loving my older generation computer that boots off anything I throw at it. :D

Blackberry 10 is going to whipass.

Bobert_123

I actually know two people who own windows phones, surprise surprise...

Flip4Bytes

Nice post, and the new site looks great. Is CrackBerry getting a site refresh in light of BB10 too? :D That'd be awesome :)

Rick_Air

Just so you know the HTC 8x is a complete redesign not a rehash of their Android device (based around the design of the Windows Phone UI apparently)
This is the same uneducated valuation which has others writing off Blackberry before BB10 has even been released. This isn't a rant, more of a correction.
A currently very satisfied Windows Phone user thinking about a BB10 device in the new year.

SugarMouth

"BlackBerry left the door wide open for Windows Phone the past 18 months, and Windows Phone did nothing with it"

GREAT POINT!

hogarius

Kevin, perhaps typing "Windows Phone 8 device" would feel better?

calicocat2010

Hey, least he isn't having to say, "University of Maryland University College." Lol, I mean how retarded that is to repeat University twice.

randall2580

2 manufacturers made the mistake of offering an OS update and saying both were EOL devices. Both saw middling sales after doing so. Not a coincidence IMHO, both devices have huge App Gaps with the leaders. While WP7 might have had a "window" - it suffered from a some of the same problems BB7 does. Both seem to get it finally and have folks actively working on their new platforms. Windows is throwing a lot of cash at the problem to boot. WP8 will benefit from the new Tabs and desktop OS as well bringing a spot light to the entire platform. Still going to be interesting to compare the releases.

Blackberry_boffin

Loud colours and low resolution icons/tiles just don't do it 4 me.