The problem with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 sales strategy

Thu, Jan 12, 2012

Analysis, News

I don’t want to needlessly bash on Microsoft here, but I simply don’t get all of the hoopla surrounding Windows Phone 7. Sure, it’s a huge upgrade from Windows Mobile, and sure, it offers a unique UI, but overall, it doesn’t grab me. Truthfully, I’m sort of perplexed at the heaps of praise that seem to be levied upon it. It almost seems that Microsoft is getting credit for simply delivering something that isn’t horrible.

Live tiles? Yeah, they have their place, but a driving force to help Microsoft steal marketshare away from Android and Apple it most certainly isn’t.

And while critics seem to love where Microsoft is going, the market hasn’t echoed that sentiment with their wallets.

Despite its best efforts, consumers are largely ignoring Windows Phone 7 and are either going iPhone or Android. And as a latecomer to the smartphone game, Microsoft is aware that they desperately need to play catch-up, and quick.

Together, Microsoft and Nokia are planning on spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help accelerate sluggish Windows Phone 7 sales. A few days ago, Paul Thurott outlined some of their upcoming marketing plans for 2012. One of the strategies that stands out is their plan to offer retail folks on the floor a $10 to $15 commission for each Windows Phone 7 device sold.

So it’s come to this, eh?

As TechCrunch writer Greg Kumparak pointed out, this is essentially an admission of failure, a tacit admission that Windows Phone 7 devices, on their own merits, simply can’t compete with Apple and Google.

Apple entered a completely new market when it introduced the iPhone. Nevertheless, iPhone sales took off right off the bat, and no, Apple did not need to pad the pockets of retailers to get them to hock iPhones.

Note the difference in strategy here.

Apple appealed to the consumer by presenting a best in class user experience, offering up a smartphone that completely trumped all other products on the market.

Microsoft, with its Windows Phone 7 strategy, isn’t appealing to the consumer, but rather to the retailer who it hopes will do what they apparently can’t do on their own – convince the average consumer to consider a Windows Phone 7 device.

Admittedly, Microsoft may be more prone to drastic sales measure given that its coming to the market so shockingly late, but that’s really a symptom of a larger problem that continues to plague Microsoft – focusing more on maintaining revenue streams than on the end consumer.

Microsoft had been in the mobile phone market for years before Apple and Google got involved, and if they can completely lap Redmond in the blink of an eye, it really does speak to a larger problem brewing inside of Microsoft.

Kumparak concludes:

By offering up a chunk of change for each sale — especially when it seems that no one else is — Microsoft is essentially saying “Yeah, we know you don’t really want to sell this. We know that we don’t really have any killer features yet. How about some cash?”

Find your killer feature, Microsoft. Don’t just buy love.

It’s no secret that iPhone owners on the whole are more loyal to Apple than, say, Android owners are to their devices. The end result is that iPhone owners generally stick with the iPhone for subsequent smartphone purchases. That doesn’t happen by appealing to the pocketbooks of retail salespersons.

It happens by appealing to the end user.


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