Microsoft’s Andy Lees sees the iPhone 4S as a misstep from Apple and an opportunity for Windows Phone 7

Wed, Oct 12, 2011


Not too long ago we highlighted the absurdity of analysts and tech enthusiasts bemoaning the iPhone 4S as lukewarm upgrade. The problem with this line of thought is that it tends to focus on arbitrary features Apple chose not to include – a larger screen for instance.

The reality is that the iPhone 4S raises the bar substantial across all smartphones. It’s camera by all accounts looks to be best-in-class while Siri, Apple’s take on voice recognition, has the potential to be a huge game changer. Toss in a speedy A5 chip, iOS 5, 1080p HD Video recording – just to name a few – and it’s hard to view the iPhone 4S as a minor upgrade from the iPhone 4.

Interestingly enough, it’s just armchair technologists that have looked at Apple’s iPhone 4S release with skepticism.

The Seattle Times recently sat down with Microsoft’s Andy Lees, who heads up the company’s Microsoft Windows Phone division, and talked to him about Apple’s alleged misstep with the 4S.

Q: Do you think the iPhone 4S (running on iOS 5) gives you an opening? Do you think they missed an opportunity there?

A: Yes I do. I think, from an end user’s experience on the software, there’s a lot of interesting reviews written comparing us to iOS 5 and the amount that we’ve got done in 11 months — so some people (are) making comparisons of pace.

Perhaps the biggest comparisons people are making is our people-centricity. The more capabilities we add into our phone, the more delightful it becomes to use because you seem to have more at your fingertips without this clutter and confusion of the other platforms.

From a pure hardware perspective, I was surprised they’re not giving the consumer more choice. People want a variety of different things.

And they say the folks at Apple are the only ones drinking Kool-Aid these days.

Truth be told, Apple is living little to no room for companies like Microsoft to gain a foothold in the marketplace. Compounding matters is that Microsoft is coming to the game extremely late, and though their Windows Phone 7 OS is certainly novel, it’s not sufficiently better than the iPhone, or even comprable Android devices, to give it a leg-up on the competition.

Lees is on target in one respect, though. Lees says that the Android marketplace is increasingly becoming chaotic.

If you’ve used some of the (Android) phones, some of them are great, but some of them are not great. But it’s random. And it feels like, with some of them, that you’ve had several cooks in the kitchen trying to bake different things with the same thing. Whereas we have much more coherency in the totality of what somebody gets when they buy our phone.

Hmm, that certainly sounds familiar.

Shrewdly, though, Microsoft with Windows Phone 7 requires that handset manufacturers meet certain requirements if they want to run the latest and greatest from Redmond. It’s a smart move, but unfortunately for Microsoft, comes a few years too late.

You can’t really fault Lees for dreaming big, we just don’t see how any company can compete with Apple given the unprecedented demand for the iPhone 4S coupled with the lower priced iPhone 4 and now free iPhone 3GS. Those are 3 attractive value propositions that live little room for other companies to compete with on price.


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