When I started this site in 2004, it was focused mainly on Microsoft mobile technology, what was then called PocketPC. I had actually started writing about their tech in 1999 for other sites on Handheld PCs but that was clearly dying so I moved over to PPC.
Last year, after a couple of years with iOS, I moved back to Windows Phone as all indications where that Microsoft had finally sorted their scene on their mobile direction. They had bought Nokia, had been talking about the universal nature of Windows 10 on the desktop and phone and I thought, “Maybe this time”. I had, after all, lived through the Windows Mobile 6.5, 7, and 8 reboots so what the heck? 10 could be the magic number.
I was wrong. It became increasingly clear that the muddled path that Microsoft was going down with their mobile platform was as confusing and foggy as ever before. I jumped ship. I ran to Android and I haven’t looked back. Windows Phone market share has continued to decline, fewer phones are shipping than ever before or being manufactured than ever before and Windows 10, that universal platform, is horribly delayed.
Windows Phone is on life support and I suspect that it won’t be there for long. Microsoft is going to kill it for good and with a market share of 1.1% globally, I doubt many will notice.
It is a sad tale and a sad ending of what could have been for Microsoft.
Ultimately I think the death of Windows Phone has come down to three primary areas: Lack of developer support, Microsoft own “Mobile first” strategy and the simple fact the market cannot bare 3 mobile platforms.
There are other reasons of course, a lack of a flagship device certainly isn’t helping, but these three I think sum up the crux of the problem.
First, Windows Phone simply does not have the attention of the developer community. Sure you can find apps in the Windows Store and there are some big name developers there. But not enough and not enough to sustain the platform. Consumers expect to be able to go to the Windows Store and pick up that name brand app they can get on Android or iOS. In some cases they can but in far too many case, they are stuck with a 3rd party app that gets them close but no quite there. I’m not knocking these developers. Far from it. Without them, the platform would have been dead years ago. But there are not enough of the Electronic Arts or Rovio or even TripIt out there. In the app world, perception is often reality and the perception is there are not a lot of apps from known brands in the store.
Second is Microsoft’s own “Mobile first” initiative. There was a time where Office was only available for Microsoft devices. That has changed and rapidly so. Now you can not only get Office on an Android or iOS device, you can get a plethora of other Microsoft apps and services on these platforms. You do not necessarily have to buy a Windows Phone to
get these apps and frankly, the experience and rate of updates on the apps for Android and iOS far exceeds that of Windows Phone.
The irony in all of this is that Microsoft has returned to doing what it does best: Making applications. They have become a true software company again for the desktop and mobile devices.
Finally, there is the market itself which would well be the biggest factor in the demise of Windows Phone. It has become clear that the mobile OS world is a two horse race: Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. We can debate who’s winning and who’s is the best. That’s not really my point. Those two combined make up 98.9% of the market. Like Blackberry before them, Microsoft has figured out that the consumer market simply doesn’t want another mobile platform out there. With a massive user based that they would have to try to convert, plus getting the right big name apps in their app store, Redmond has seen the writing on the wall. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. Clearly Microsoft has tried. Multiple times. But the market is simply saying no. No, I’m good with my iPhone, no I’m good with my Samsung and no, I don’t want to look at your platform because I can’t get the apps I want. It really is that simple.
I wish Windows Phone had succeeded. I personally love the user interface and the experience. But I was in a very small minority.
Rest in Peace Windows Phone.