Windows Phone Strategy

Background

With innovative products from Apple and Google in the form of iPhone and Android, we’ve seen radical change in the phone industry with growth of smart devices even surpassing the sale of PCs. And with this achievement, even common people have mini computers in their pockets whose computation power exceeds the computation power of supercomputers of earlier times. In the competitive industry where innovation could easily kill older businesses overnight, the same thing happened with Nokia. At the time when Android and iOS were increasing their market share, Nokia dumped their own Linux based MeeGo OS at the crucial time and later the company was sold to Microsoft. (Although Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop dumping superior OS MeeGo which was even better than Android according to all around reviews, in favor of yet to develop Windows mobile OS and later losing market share and selling the company to Microsoft is difficult to understand for outsiders)

Current Market Scenario

Business-wise these two products have brought marketplace model wherein the app developers could develop their apps for the devices and put it on sale on their app store from where users of the devices could easily buy and use it. Any new player trying to enter in the already established marketplace business usually only wastes its time and resources in it. In marketplace model based businesses like Amazon, Uber, Android etc., it is usually the winner takes all game. But still it is possible to enter it as niche segment where the new player would be offering something unique. Till now, Windows has offered nothing of such value which could justify buying Windows phone instead of Android phone or iPhone. Windows app store might have two million apps but still the majority of apps are behind Android/iOS apps in term of features and quality as only small part of companies’ business comes from Windows phone which doesn’t justify their ROI on Windows mobile app development.

Future Strategy

  1. Microsoft has two strengths; first established leader in desktop OS and second the Office suite. It has one weakness i.e. late entrant to already established marketplace business. So it must play to its strengths while subduing its weakness. Those companies who wanted to enter the market through their mobile apps i.e. those companies that are already not established in desktop space either through websites or windows applications would no doubt will choose Android or iOS so there is no point in targeting them. Instead Microsoft should develop virtual machine to run Android apps on its OS so that Android apps could run on it as it is (doing this with iOS might be costly/unfeasible due to proprietary licenses issues so pros and cons need to be weighted) which will weaken the advantage offered by rivals (porting app strategy seems less convincing as ROI again comes into picture). Instead Microsoft should target those companies who already have Metro/Desktop apps and wanted to enter mobile segment by offering such a development suite where writing mobile app from their already existing Desktop/Metro app should only need to write a small part of whole software at front end layer which will justify return on investment for those companies as it will minimize their development and maintenance cost besides offering single development suite for series of device interfaces. Even if they decide to offer their Android app, still it will be done after their window mobile app is launched besides their Windows mobile app would have features and updates before their Android app whenever they make any changes to their Desktop/Web apps. Also if the company had not intelligently designed their software (which is often the case) then integrating their Android app with their existing software will be problematic and would require rewriting the whole software otherwise it will run into issues so development of Windows mobiles will be immediate while Android app development will go to their future plans.
  2. Microsoft Continuum, a hybrid device concept, which would function as a high-end smartphone, or when used with a monitor, keyboard and mouse—be able to operate as a conventional desktop PC is also innovative to offer something unique than other competitors (though Ubuntu Edge might challenge it). Additionally, the Wi-Di, USB C and Bluetooth technology would further make it easier to connect the phone to peripheral devices.
  3. Microsoft should offer their own niches apps like Office suite only on their own mobile platform thus offering its devices as something offering unique solutions. Besides, if Microsoft wants to continue their Mobile OS then they have to offer something which the user wouldn’t get in the alternative platform. There should be something unique which should justify buyer’s spending on Windows Mobile instead of Android/iOS device.
  4. The existing strategy of merging Microsoft services on Android should be continued as it will make users used to Microsoft services and eventually attracting them to Windows phone. The Microsoft could also consider selling CyanogenMod (a popular customized Android OS) devices with their own services through Nokia to make some profits and to sell its services.

Conclusion

Microsoft has spent so much energy and resources in developing their mobile OS in the past for so long and also on acquisition over Nokia that if it dumps its mobile OS now then not only the money and time will be wasted but also the opportunity to be a valuable player in the mobile segment in future will also be lost.

In short run there wouldn’t be immediate reversal of trend but in long run, there could definitely be gains. Also no one knows what will happen in future in this competitive world so to assume that Android/iOS are here to stay for long is also wrong. Microsoft should wait for the right time when others makes mistakes so as to take the competitor’s position at the right time, which also happened with Nokia earlier.

Also the end users is anyways going to be benefited because the competition brings the best out of companies which will ultimately be beneficial for the society.

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