Mine is a Windows Phone 7 and I have been wrestling with this post for over a week.
Over the last weeks I have seen some amazing new Apps appear on the Windows Store only to see they were all exclusively for Windows Phone 8. It’s not so much denying me these apps that annoys me it’s the bloody-minded stupidity of whoever at Microsoft is in charge of growing Windows Phone adoption.
Let Me Explain…
I could simply be one of the loyal Microsoft consumers who spent their hard earned cash on Windows Phone 7 only to discover that we were being shunted aside for Windows Phone 8 but I love my phone.
Whilst it is frustrating and bothersome to see incredible apps like Facebook Beta (developed by Microsoft), Star Trek Into Darkness and a slew of others marked as not compatible with my phone
What gets me is the short-sightedness:
Apple’s iOS6 is compatible with: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch 4th Gen, iPad 2
Android 4.2 is compatible with a remarkable variety of older phones including the Samsung Galaxy SII
Why is this relevant? Because unlike Windows Phone 8, Google and Apple realized the importance of not tying success completely to hardware specifications.
Market Shares Flushed Down The Drain
Microsoft often cites web use statistics company Netmarketshare so I went to see what they could tell me about market share by version in mobile. Mobile OS share by version was not comprehensive but when I looked at current stats for “Mobile Browser Share by Version” this is what I saw: –
Total Market Share
|Android Browser 4.0||
|Opera Mini 4.2||
|Opera Mini 7.1||
|Opera Mini 4.4||
|Opera Mini 4.1||
|Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0 Mobile||
|Opera Mini 7.0||
|Microsoft Internet Explorer 10.0 Mobile||
*IE9.0 Mobile runs on Windows Phone 7.x ; IE10 Mobile runs on Windows Phone 8
Data from Netmarketshare.com current to April 2013.
Based on this Windows Phone 7.x has 2 ½ times as much market share as Windows Phone 8 ?!??
The Warptest POV…
If the key to platform growth is through App adoption and you want App Developers to create Apps for your platform then why would you block all those Windows Phone 7 consumers from downloading and installing your Apps?
I went to Twitter to see what some of the Developers who are creating Apps for Windows Phone had to say.
The answer I got (arguably) was “easier to develop for Windows Phone 8 and more in-App features available”.
One other person told me “It’s all about Lock Screen – app interaction.” Windows Phone 8 was designed to share a common code base with Windows 8 but in addition the Lock Screen was to allow Apps to interact and display dynamic, real-time data. Needless to say this was a feature not included in the Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade.
I had an epiphany over coffee. I had been discussing the pros and cons of branching software for a project I was testing and it occurred that if the Windows Store can detect your phone version then why is there no IF..THEN..ELSE to allow the Store to provide the correct version for your phone?
Of course this would require developing an additional branch of your App, one where features for Windows Phone 8 like Lock Screen are not available but let’s face it, Microsoft who develop Apps like the new Facebook Beta aren’t doing this. If they aren’t setting the gold standard why should anyone else do it? Is it even easy to do this in the latest Windows Phone SDK? (The link is to a basic explanation of versions on MSDN)
Then I stumbled across an article published April 22nd 2013 on “How to target multiple versions with your app for Windows Phone“, again written on MSDN. This is an excellent article that explains all the options for doing this. So why isn’t this being done or even encouraged?
It seems that some bright spark in Sales and Marketing feels it more appropriate to give a swift kick in the collective family jewels of Windows Phone 7.x consumers than to find a solid strategy for encouraging multi-version targeting of Apps. Clearly they believe that these loyal early adopters will eventually break down and upgrade to Windows Phone 8.
At the end of the day my next Smartphone will probably be a Windows Phone 9 or Blue but I hope that in the meanwhile Steve Ballmer decides that this marketing policy is an act of lunacy and he doesn’t want to write off the potentially larger market share of Windows Phone 7.x consumers. My advice Steve,
- Ship whoever came up with this to Microsoft North Pole. What were they thinking?
- Find a constructive way and incentivize Windows Phone 7.x consumers to upgrade. You are offering discounts for Windows XP to Windows 8 upgrades, why not here?
One might extend the Star Trek analogy and say that Windows Phone 8 is The Next Generation, which I guess would make Windows Phone 7 the Original Star Trek with Kirk and crew in all their glory.