Tired of iOS and Android, Telefónica backs Windows Phone. It won’t likely matter.

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.

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