Reason for slow Windows Phone 8 growth

Recent big banner apps will make you question the title, and even it is definitely positive to see Windows Phone get some decent titles…and now that the smoke has cleared lets focus on it’s slow uptake in markets-developing and matured.

I had a conversation with a good friend whom I convinced to get a Lumia 620 in India, when he asked me about Windows Phone. When I showed him my device, I had a Samsung Focus running Windows Phone 7, at the time Microsoft had recently announced Windows Phone 8. So didn’t have the Lumia 920 I have now. Long story short, he got the Lumia 620 when it was available in India at a price tag of 16000 INR. He opted for Windows Phone 8, when he could have got far more powerful Android devices at cheaper price plans- likes of Xolo, Karbonn, Micromax, etc.

So, I followed up with him to check how he liked his purchase 8 months later. This guy is not tech endowed by any stretch of imagination, at the same time he isn’t tech illiterate. He knew about Amber update and upcoming Update 3 and Nokia Black update. Some of his gripes were absolutely legitimate and I took some time to reflect and rephrase. His conclusion was Nokia did excellent, Microsoft needs to do better. Windows need work to be more popular. He said more popular, he is obviously referring to Android being the more popular one, which his friends are making him green with envy with their elaborate app illustration, OS features etc.

Also, he came from Symbian. OS that was the first home of Nokia and Nokia had a firm hold in India in that era. He missed some Symbian specific features which goes to show how advanced the OS really was, even if it wasn’t touch-friendly.

This is the list:-

  • Absence of Truecaller. This is an app request. Telemarketing is crazy in India, as you can imagine, and a way to see who is calling helps cut down on junk calls and there is no such service as donotcall.gov. There is an app in Windows Phone Store, but it sucks at best as it doesn’t scan for calls in real-time. API limitations.
  • Proper file-manager. My kind people for some reason like to micro-manage with folders and directories. I can see cases where this could be useful to have.
  • Same key for volume and music- This is listed as the top complain for the platform. Separate controls are needed.
  • Whatsapp isn’t as advanced as Android counterpart.  Whatsapp is the de-facto messaging standard in India. It sucks apparently on Windows Phone. I can’t relate, since I haven’t used Whatsapp on android.
  • Put phone in sleep but still keep alarm active. Symbian was perfect at this. Current Windows phone behavior is stupid. If you are low on juice and still wanna wake up, it is dead meat.
  • OTG support. On-the-Go USB support which turns a USB device into host so other device can connect to it. I don’t know if Android does this.

Below is the gripe that was fixed with Update 3, that he forced on my advice using the developer program:-

  • Orientation lock. Seriously, Microsoft It takes you three years to add this basic feature in a supposedly advanced mobile Operating System? Shame on you and your world’s bigger software make status quo. Seriously, like you should drown your employees.
  • Other storage occupied 2 GB of storage on his 8 GB phone. Baffling and probably sad if your investment fills up with crap over time.’
  • Quitting apps via close button. Enough Said.

I haven’t added my gripes to the above list:-

  • Notification center. Something Android has had for years. Windows Phone will probably get it in Spring 2014.
  • Quick Toggle for controlling settings. Like it should be there.
  • Google Now like feature. Again, Cortana or likes is coming in Spring 2014. Again, waiting game
  • Better API.

Microsoft thinks Windows Phone is gaining popularity, but if it doesn’t address the problems listed above…these may be its brightest days as people who have these phones will opt for something else, Android. iOS is elite crowd only, so iPhones are out of discussion for 90% of people.

So If anyone is reading this from Redmond, If you think you have won the battle of smartphone in markets by beating Apple. Think twice before you decide to slack off for another two years. You are shooting at a moving target- Android. and by the time you get the above mentioned features, the world would have moved to the next awesome feature Android will get before Windows Phone and Windows Phone will be caught with it’s pants down, chasing to get that feature….again.

Journey with Windows Phone is that of a perpetual wait, for developers, for consumers, for manufacturers. And this is a deeper problem that Microsoft has than just getting those apps.

Peeping through crystal ball- Windows 8.2 RT and Windows Phone

With the next version of RT and Windows Phone, I see them being tightly knit if not one. All the steps and cues in their current respective OS leads to the same. Let’s break it down.

  • Desktop tile disappeared in Windows 8.1 RT. Won’t be too long till the desktop completely disappears in RT. If desktop disappears, it automatically becomes Phone OS, except just not as powerful (traditional power users trace it back to command prompt).
  • Office apps from Windows Phone will be ported over to Windows 8.2 RT, which again means that need for desktop on RT is gone.
  • Windows phone and Windows RT are now put to the glaring similarity. Windows Phone will get Charms equivalent in next version(notification center) and by the subsequent version, I won’t be surprised if the OS are interchangeable. In it’s current iteration, Windows RT is a lot more powerful than Windows Phone, lack of apps aside. In future, I see Windows Phone getting replaced over Windows Phone.
  • It will take at least two iterations for both of those OS to mesh very tightly together. I think it is a win-win for both. Windows RT is the boat to ride.

Windows Phone 8 Least known hacks

It’s been a while since I did my last post, a lot has happened since then.
Anyway, ever since I upgraded to Windows Phone 8. My Red Lumia 920 has served me well. I have to say even though there isn’t a huge leap in terms of User Experience- I think Nokia Apps really do make a big difference in the ecosystem. Nokia exclusive apps related to maps and camera/lens feature are a huge win and major wow factor. Sometimes, it makes me think what would Windows phone be if it wasn’t for Nokia- another topic for another day.

I am listing some of the hidden gems in Windows Phone 8 that I have accidentally discovered:

Xbox music is like that forbidden bastard child of Microsoft, just like Zune except worst. I hate that once you pause the music the music goes away but the control stays in place with that dark band on the top half of phone. I still don’t know what the use for this feature is. Honestly, just have the control and the title both in the access bar or remove it altogether. Don’t do this half-assed attempt.

 

  • Tip- If you don’t have pin-code on your phone, you can launch into Xbox music by just clicking on the title of the music playing. In 7.X, you could also do that but after clicking on the title you have to swipe up.
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