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Windows Phone 7 Needs Its “Really?!” Users

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Microsoft has gotten a fair share of chuckles from its initial Windows Phone 7 commercials, which feature addicted smartphone users plodding along cluelessly as they live life transfixed by their handsets. The best ads feature exasperated onlookers, friends and family members asking, “Really?!” when confronted by a person’s smartphone obsession. While it’s good for a laugh, Microsoft had better hope  that it can replicate some of that addiction with the launch of Windows Phone 7 today. It will need some of its own “Really?!” users, or Windows Phone 7 won’t compete in today’s smartphone market.

Microsoft is selling Windows Phone 7 as a device aimed to “get you in, and out and back to life.” This is a savvy move for non-smartphone users who are still intimidated by the devices and see their owners as obnoxious slaves to their handsets. But smartphones are addicting. We love the Internet, we love staying connected anywhere and we are generally rewarding companies that deliver that experience.

The iPhone was the first of many smartphones that really allowed uses to take their online desktop experience with them via a mobile phone. Has it led to some oblivious moments and maybe a little bad behavior? Yes. But I knew I truly loved my iPhone when I walked off a bus and onto the sidewalk and to my office mesmerized by the handset. Yes, I look a little clueless (and might step into a manhole or get hit by a car), but my unconcern with such matters is a measure of how good the iPhone is. Between the browser, the apps and the games, I don’t want to put it down.

Is there room for a phone that can make the whole experience a little more efficient? Sure, and non-smartphone users may welcome that. But Microsoft is also selling its phones as major gaming devices and they’re working hard to stock the marketplace with thousands of apps, evangelizing to developers about the ease of writing for Windows Phone 7. Success for those developers won’t involve a user putting down his smartphone for hours on end. It’ll look more like the stuff Microsoft is parodying.

And the fact is information is real-time now. We are in a world where Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and all manner of news and information is flowing to us all the time. We’re not only consuming; we’re broadcasting more and more, whether its status updates, check-ins or comments. Smartphones allow us to tap into that, and that’s why we’re buying these devices. A new phone that let’s you get back to life won’t stop the flow of information or peoples’ desire to share. No, for Microsoft to succeed, it had better hope that it has its own legion of “Really?!” users, those users who can’t put the phone down. It will mean that people really love their phones and what it offers. It may not make for a funny commercial but that’s the reality of smartphone usage today.


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10 Responses to “Windows Phone 7 Needs Its “Really?!” Users”

  1. Biggest problem here is that the writer asumes that everyone else is like them. Smartphones users are still a minority. There is a reason people haven’t wanted smartphones. They want control – not over exposure. I’m a LOT more likely to use a smartphone that minimizes the time it takes to check and deal with work (or non-work) email.

    So yes, maybe not the best phone for people whose only relationships are via electronic gadgets. Maybe better for people who know they have to have those electronic commuications but prefer to keep them to a minimum.

  2. Main point of this campaign is to differentiate WP7 from iOS and Android ones.

    They cant use ‘we have more apps’, or ‘touch/multi-touch’, or ‘touch + physical keys’, etc

    They have several things they know they can differentiate on out of the gate,

    -Office integration + experience
    -XBox live and mobile gaming
    -Tiles + Hubs

    Office integration will be pitched in its own campaign to biz users, MS has made it clear that launch time is for consumers.

    XBox integration and avaialble games is limited in the beginning, plus they dont want to take away from Kinect marketing for the holidays.

    That leaves Tiles+Hubs as a ‘unique feature’. iOS and Android cant easily implement those w/o inherently changing their UX in a somewhat drastic manner. If MS can get users to buy into it, its a competitive advantage,

    Not to mention that you can bet MS has at least 1+ patents around tiles+hubs that it will keep in its back pocket for a rainy day

  3. Good post, Ryan.

    A reader on my site offered the clever insight that perhaps the real target for these ads is the IT guys? Microsoft is saying — your users clamoring for that iPhone can get a ‘enterprise friendly’ device, with Office, Outlook — and, guess what, it’s designed so they won’t spend all day playing with them.

  4. John King

    “legion of “Really?!” users, those users who can’t put the phone down. It will mean that people really love their phones and what it offers.”
    My friend. So you really love your phone and you can’t put it down…
    You sound pathetic…
    I have a lot of things to love before thinking about “a phone”. Your “Legion” is more about “Fans” like those that are always waiting to buy the next Apple toy. For them it does not matter how much it cost…”I want it”.
    Windows Phone is for real, normal people and beleive me, those are, thanks god, the majority….

  5. You need to understand the Windows Phone 7 (WP7) and the “Really?” ad. What MS means by “WP7 will allow you to get in and get back to life” is that for most information you do not need to drill down into individual apps to find them. The live tiles allow you to quickly view things like your next appointment, how many new emails/text/voicemail, etc, apps with available updates, and many more at a glance and get going without opening each app to find such details while other mobile devices require you to do just that. On the other hand that ad is one of those teasers that many find confusing. On the other hand, WP7 is the ultimate mobile device to “really” sit down and have fun with when you are open to do so, from Xbox Live gaming to Zune multimedia/FM radio to social features it has everything covered and done better than others. It even has more apps at launch than any other mobile devices did when they launched and the only reason it did not have more is that app submissions was only open to the first thousand developers, others had to wait until a day or two ago to get general app submission access. The fun has just begun, other mobile devices are in for a treat from the competition WP7 brings.

  6. I have an alternative theory, which I may be able to prove soon…

    Windows phone’s “get you in, and out and back to life.” tag line is a thinly veiled message to Microsoft’s bread and butter: Enterprise IT. The tag line is really saying:

    “get you in, and out and back to *WORK*.”

    Just the other day there was a GigaOm post about corporations abandoning Backberry as the phone they issue to their employees and letting them use iPhones, Android etc. That’s purely from employee’s not wanting to be burden with lame RIM products.

    Microsoft is fully aware of this and want to make Windows phone the replacement for company issued Blackberries.

    The “really?” TV ads are re-enforcing corporate fears that productivity will go down if employees have iPhones/Android ( neither contain the spyware to tell IT managers who’s working and who’s playing Farmville ). Dell may have used this rationale in its choice of WIndows phone being their new company issued device.

    So, no, Microsoft does not need *new* “Really?” users, they need to become the default phone issued by IT.

    We know soon if my theory is right, Windows phone went on sale this morning, trivial to find the placeholder for corporate snooping app.