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Summary:

Telefónica doesn’t like the iOS and Android duopoly so it’s helping Microsoft in six markets. But only three of them are likely to grab first time smartphone owners, the bigger potential audience for Windows Phone at this point.

HTC Windows Phone 8X

Like a salmon fighting the current by swimming upstream, Telefónica is going against the current smartphone norm. On Wednesday, the network operator announced a marketing push for Microsoft Windows Phone 8 devices in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Chile.

As reported by The Verge, Telefónica says the move is due to its “commitment to improve the current balance of mobile operating platforms on the market, encouraging it to be more diverse and less of a duopoly.” Efforts will include working with suppliers to bring more compelling devices to customers in the named regions and promoting both the enterprise-class business services and consumer functions offered in Windows Phone 8: SkyDrive, Skype, Office365 and SharePoint, to name a few.

facebook-windows-phoneThat’s all well and good on paper. And this is a nice bit of news for Microsoft. But will it really make a difference?

I suspect it will make little, if any, mainly because the challenges to Windows Phone 8 adoption are less about marketing and more about the ecosystem and Microsoft’s tardiness to deliver a solid mobile product until recently.

Windows Phone 8 is actually a good platform, however, it was delivered about two to three years too late and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to play “catch up” in the smartphone market. At this point, many smartphone owners have invested heavily in their ecosystem of choice, be it iOS or Android and lock-in costs are part of the obstacle.

That doesn’t mean every iOS or Android user today will continue to be faithful to their platform choice forever; Microsoft would do well to pick up a small percentage of switchers. The bigger potential gain is in the first-time smartphone owner.

I doubt there are many of those left in the U.K., Spain and Germany, which make up half of the regions in which Telefónica is planning to push Windows Phone. Chile, Brazil and Mexico are better investments for this strategy, although Microsoft is likely to face stiff competition from BlackBerry there.

  1. Windowsphone is here to stay!

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  2. “the challenges to Windows Phone 8 adoption are less about marketing and more about the ecosystem and Microsoft’s tardiness to deliver a solid mobile product until recently.”

    Since there is a solid product now, and the ecosystem is more than sufficient for most users, I’d say Windows Phone adoption is ALL about marketing. Just like Android in the days before the Galaxy S2.

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    1. Good thought, Peter, but I’m not sold on the ecosystem as more than sufficient for most users bit. Hard to say as we all have different needs, of course.

      I don’t think Android’s issue before the S2 was marketing though: It took longer than that to get Android “caught up” to iOS in terms of usability and app / ecosystem standards.

      Put another way: So in your mind, the biggest challenge for WP adoption right now is marketing?

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      1. Everyone talks about the insufficient ecosystem, but few ever go into actual detail to explain what is lacking for them personally, and how heavily weighted those individual things are in their work flow, that would legitimately prevent them from using Windows Phone. Care to take a crack at it?

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        1. Ivan, that’s a fair point. I can tell you what I’d miss personally although it only applies to me:

          Apps I use for work such as Socialcast and Flipboard are key.

          We’re also a Google Apps shop, so the Google services experience are far better on Android phones (and not lacking too much on iOS either) as compared to Windows Phone. I also need Google+; not a web app for it, but a native app. No dice on WP.

          Same goes for some other apps I use on both iOS/Android: Slice, Amazon MP3, and my home automation software, just to name a scant few without pulling out my phones and checking home screens.

          Perhaps I could search deeper for similar alternatives but I’ve already invested time, effort and money in these apps.

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          1. Thanks for the response, Kevin. It seems to me that the native Google experience is probably the biggest stumbling block, and like you say, especially for people who work at a place where Google is the de facto service. Ironically, the one industry that actually seems to use Google for all their work services seems to be tech journalists. The number of large corporations, businesses, educational institutions, govt agencies, etc. that have actually moved over to Google, or who’s IT dept would be comfortable doing so is quite small.

            The result of this, is that for most people, not having a native suite of Google apps is not the make or break ecosystem issue that it is for the people writing the articles about it, and ends up (in my opinion) misrepresenting the Windows Phone app selection and services.

            I’m a former long time Android user, going all the way back to the G1, but have since moved to Windows Phone, primarily for the UI, and the deep integration of contacts and services. I just generally prefer the experience. But I sometimes still second guess myself as to whether or not I’m missing out, and I even purchased the HTC One to refresh my memory. Within a week I had sold it and was back on my 920.

            The point I’m trying to make is that for most everyday consumers, I don’t believe the ecosystem is the problem. There is a narrow group of influential users for whom the Google issue is huge, and decision changing. But I don’t think that’s the norm. I think it’s more a question of marketing, as the commenter above said, and convincing consumers that Windows Phone is a viable alternative. Actual, real life usability barriers are not the problem. Just my opinion!

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            1. More good points, Ivan! Your comment about tech journalists is spot on and makes me wonder: Why are many of us using Google services when Microsoft once owned the document / content production space? (I’m clearly thinking Office here, of course)

              I think that says much about Microsoft’s lack of pace in this area although I have give them credit: Their latest web/cloud and mobile offerings are all quite good. The problem for me is that it’s too late. I have no compelling reason to switch. But as you said, there are many others *not* like me and that should give hope to Microsoft. Thanks for the conversation!

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            2. Thanks to you as well!

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  3. win 8 on Nokia – Hideous!

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  4. For what it’s worth – a sample of one – I have a 20-yr old son (college student in US) who just switched from an Android phone to the Lumia on Verizon Wireless. He loves it, and has not run into any important lack of apps. People get hung up on the number of apps in the iOS and Android ecosystems, but the vast majority of those are really junk or incredibly niche – it’s only a small percentage that have broad appeal and usage.

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  5. Can clearly see you are biased against WIndowsPhone …. This argument of Ecosystem is now outdated ….. except for one or two tell me any important App that is not there in WIndows Phone App store ?

    Face it, WIndowsphone is now a force to recon with. I can say with person experience that most people who try my Lumia 920 have dumped their iPhones and Androids and switched to Windowsphone-8 the advantages are endless … Free fully functional Integrated Micrsoft Office is just the beginning. Free Music, Free Skydrive, Live Tiles, X-Box Gaming. automatic OS update ( My android friends keep crying for updated OS for Months even years )

    There is never any fear of data loss as everything ( Including phonebook ) is automatically synced …. I can go on an on ….

    iOS and Android have been taking users for a ride for a long time .. not anymore .. WIndowsphone is a Fresh Breath.

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  6. The conclusions about WP being “late” or not having an adequate ecosystem are ridiculous for several reasons. First of all, if only half of the US market (not sure about others) has a smart phone, there’s plenty of room for growth. Second, the ecosystem is fine, as anyone who is using a Windows Phone on a daily basis can tell you. And what does it need to be to be “adequate” anyway? Satisfy tech pundits? They don’t need to hit that bar to be successful.

    I agree with others. It’s the total failure of marketing that’s the problem, not the product.

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  7. Hahahahahaha Good luck with that!

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  8. I think it would be nice if Microsoft’s phone OS actually gained market share but I don’t really think that’s going to happen. Windows Phone has been around for four years so if it was going to take off, it probably would’ve happened already. And Windows Phone 8 isn’t visually different from Windows Phone 7, and I think visuals are a big part of the problem. A consumer is going to walk into a store and they’ll see how different a windows phone is compared to android/ios and they wont take the leap of faith to a new platform, especially if there going to have the phone for two years. So anyway here’s what I think Microsoft needs to do to encourage users to switch to its OS:

    1. Offer to pay the development costs for all major apps (Instagram, google apps, etc.) and actively court developers

    2. Get rid of the hardware requirements for all phones so that there can be a differently spec’d phone for each type of consumer

    3. Temporarily drop the licensing fee on each phone to zero (from $25) so that manufacturers are willing to invest more in their phones.

    4. Possibly adopt a Android/ios like home screen but make each app a live tile so that the platform isn’t so alien when they turn on the phone

    Adopting some of these ideas would mean admitting that your platform was a failure in some aspects, but that’s better than being stuck in a post-pc world

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  9. Hi Kevin. As a spanish, I’d like to give all of you an expanded view about what Telefonica announcement means, since is a spanish (although with international playfield) company:

    I don’t know about other countries, but here in Spain biggest part of smartphone users don’t even know what they had in their hands. I don’t mean all of us are stupid people (not all :P), and there are many buyers who make their choice with great knowledge, but the great majority just buys what vendor put in front of them at 0€ price (or at least at lower price).

    An example: I’m a highscholl teacher, and you would be surprise of how many of my students says: that’s an iphone, that’s an android phone, and that’s an galaxy, thinking (even after my efforts) that galaxy is an operating system… And if young people don’t know that diferences, you can imagine older non tech people…

    Usually, buying a smartphone here is something like one of this two things:

    1- I go to a store (almost always an network operaton store, as Telefonica or Vodafone; buying non contract phones is a very strange thing) and I buy just what is “free” (of course, paying a very expensive contract month by month…), or cheaper, and of course that being what vendor offer me.
    2- I go to a store, and say to vendor: I want collest phone, like an iPhone. It’s very amusing watch a vendor saying: no, no, an iPhone is a very old phone, now what you have to buy is something new as a Galaxy Y or a Galaxy Ace (there are so many Aces that I almost have nitghmares with them :p), and people buy it without hesitation, because they have heard somewhere Galaxy is cool (not worrying about if they heard Ace, S4, or Note :P ).

    So if Telefonica stores begin to show windows phone to all buyers, I can assure all of you in a few months WP will be a major here in Spain. Ah, of course, there will not be WP, but Nokia Phones, absolutely different of a Windows Phone :P

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    1. Great insights to the Spanish market – thanks much as it explains why this may help more than I originally thought! :)

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  10. Upsss, sorry for grammar mistames in my previos post. I write too fast and English isn’t my natural language :s

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