Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Is this the end for Windowsphone?

I am one of the few. I have a Nokia Lumia 1020 Windowsphone. Windowsphone, as a platform, has been around for 4 years. Launched as Windowsphone 7, became Windowsphone 8 and is now Windowsphone 8.1. I am not a 'Johnny come lately' to the system. I bought a heavy Nokia Lumia 800, I broke the screen and moved onto a 610, then an 820 and now a 1020. The latter has the 41megapixel camera and it is great.

My Windowsphone is easy to use, takes great pictures, has a bunch of apps and generally performs well. The shutter speed is a little slow but that seems to be the trade off for the pixels.

However the market share has not reached a tipping point except in the very low cost phone market. In effect the low end Windowsphones have replaced the feature phones of old. A basic phone is now pretty much a low end Android device or a Windowsphone. The killer flagship Windowsphone has disappeared. Some large 'phablet' phones have arrived but nothing that has excited the market.

In the meantime the Microsoft mobile ecosystem has gone Android and IOS. Exclusive Windowsphone apps are now available for IOS and Android. There is almost no reason to have a Windowsphone other than the new personal digital assistant 'Cortana' – which is still in beta.

The apps infrastructure for Windowsphone has not improved. It is not a matter of quantity but availability and function. A range of apps from my local taxi company, my bank, my local transit companies, the loyalty cards I use are all 'unavailable'. The apps I do have are lower in function than the equivalent Android apps and are months behind in release cycle.

The market share of Windowsphone is dreadful. In the USA it's about 2%. In Europe it's nudging 10% but not gaining much traction. After 4 years people have less compelling reasons to have a Windowsphone than they did. If anything Windowsphone is gathering a lower profile than previously.

What are Microsoft going to do? Windows 10 is just around the corner. With the app infrastructure being still so poor and with a low end value market being targeted it is likely that Windowsphone will not be killed off but will become a sort of low cost entry level smartphone that leads people to Microsoft services. The $7 billion paid to Nokia for their phone business is increasingly looking like a great deal for Nokia.