Why many are unlikely to switch to Windows Phone or BlackBerry 10

73 Comments

The smartphone industry is at an interesting point in time. In 2007, Apple’s(s aapl) iPhone practically invented — or re-invented, if you will — the current smartphone age with a full capacitive touchscreen and support for mobile apps. Google(s goog) Android followed in 2008 and although it was slow to catch up, is relatively on par with iOS in terms of usability and app support.

Can Microsoft and RIM succeed where others have failed?

blackberry-10-os-1These incumbents — Apple and Google’s Android partners — account for 89.9 percent of smartphone sales as of the third quarter of 2012, per IDC. Some alternative platforms, such as Palm’s webOS(s hpq) and Nokia’s(s nok) Maemo software, entered the market only to disappointingly disappear: webOS is now an open-source platform and Maemo became MeeGo, which Nokia abandoned when it chose to use Microsoft’s Windows Phone(s msft) software. Windows Phone has been around for two years but has relatively little in the way of sales to show for it.

With Windows Phone 8, however, Microsoft now has its best chance for success. It appears that Research In Motion’s(s rimm) BlackBerry 10 system, which will be unveiled on Jan. 30, is RIM’s last-ditch effort at relevancy as well. I’ve used, and like using, Windows Phone 8 and I also like what I’ve seen from RIM as it has shared limited details of BlackBerry 10. But I’m unlikely to switch platforms now and based on the timing of these two products, I expect many current smartphone owners to avoid switching as well.

What can a new smartphone platform offer at this point?

There are a few reasons why I think this, with the first being the maturity of the current smartphone platforms. After five years in this current age, all the heavy lifting is done, meaning the biggest platform breakthroughs have already been made. Put another way: All of the recent incremental upgrades to iOS and Android are just that: incremental. The pace of change for a native smartphone operating system has slowed and the changes themselves are mainly small features or minor user interface tweaks.

HTC Windows Phone 8XOf course, it’s always nice to have more options. And in my opinion, some native smartphone features are actually better on Windows Phone than on Android or iOS.

The People hub in Windows Phone, for example, makes it easy to see all of your contacts, their social status, updates and photos. While the approach is sound, and perhaps even better than contact management on alternatives, one could always add Facebook(s fb) sync to their phone for a similar experience. So the value of the People hub is diminished when making comparisons.

And while RIM employees I’ve spoken with tell me that the BlackBerry fan base is excited by BlackBerry 10, nobody at RIM answers me directly when I ask, “Yes, but what feature(s) will broaden the BlackBerry base?” which has been shrinking over time.

Consumers aren’t buying hardware, they’re investing in platforms

I’ve been saying this for months, if not years: The battle for smartphone dollars is only partially won or lost by the hardware itself. The longer a handset owner sticks with one platform, the more they invest in content and apps that only work with that platform. This lock-in cost — something I mused about over two years ago — is a potential barrier to switching. And for those who invested early in a platform, as much as four or five years, its highly unlikely a switch will occur. Who wants to re-buy premium apps, books, videos and other content?

To Microsoft’s credit, it has more of a platform play than Research in Motion does. Between Windows 8 and its Xbox Live service, Microsoft has a wide range of support for music, videos, games and more. So far, however, that platform strength hasn’t equated to Windows Phone sales. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has the been the best-selling console for 23 consecutive months and total lifetime unit sales hit 70 million as of Microsoft’s most recent fiscal quarter. Yet, Windows Phone shipments in the third quarter of this year are estimated to be 3.6 million handsets. To put that in perspective: 1.3 million Android devices are activated each day. And Apple just sold 2 million iPhone 5 handsets in China during this past weekend.

Maybe there won’t be a third-horse in this race after all

Barring any major smartphone advances by Microsoft or RIM now, neither appears poised to become a third horse in smartphones, at least when it comes to smartphone switchers. Bad timing and prior consumer investment are sure to hold back both platforms, at least in areas where smartphone penetration has already reached the tipping point. Could either of these do well in other regions, however?

Lumia 620

Yes, they can, but the upside appears limited in my opinion. Even in areas where the smartphone population is low, both platforms are competing against low-priced but still capable Android handsets or older, and less expensive, iPhone models. Even so, I think the idea of catering a low-cost device to first-time smartphone buyers — exactly what Nokia is doing with its Lumia 620 — is a smart play at this point. That strategy may not get you or I to switch platforms, but it could rack up sales through first-timers.

Whether you currently own a smartphone or still have an old feature phone, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts: What will it take for you to switch to or initially start with Windows Phone 8 or BlackBerry 10?

73 Comments

Amy

Windows Phone has great features but the app community doesn’t see enough potential there to develop for the Mango OS — so I went from BB to Windows Phone to iPhone and will stay with iPhone because I’m also an iPad user and love the compatibility.

j

I’m typing this on my new Samsung ativ with windows 8 and it is better than bberry, android and iPhone combined. I know this because I worked as a cell app tester and have used all these devices. No one wants an operating system that looks like ish (android) and stays the same (ios) or runs like ish (bbrry)

ausnote2

My prediction is this

Android will dominate 70-75% of the market
Apple and windows Mobile with share equally 25-30%
The rest will be insignificant.

Apple products are nice but the company is morally and legally corrupt with their patent crap.
MS mobile ‘live tiles’ seem to be simplistic and child like UI in this modern era. Granted I have only play with it and don’t own one to really test it out.

I reckon MS should bring back Windows mobile 6.5 and enhance this OS and it should capture more market share. I missed the venerable HTC HD 2 windows 6.5 era….not really, my Galaxy Note 2 with JB is pretty much a phone/pc on the go…..

Rann Xeroxx

Just got back from the UK doing a Exchange migration and one of the things that were noted when we were transferring all their BlackBerrys to Exchange was that the reason our international operations stick with it is because the data costs are very very low compared to other smart phones. RIM does a good job compressing and delivering data then other phone platforms.

Not a big deal in the US but everywhere else its adds up to big bucks per month cost.

former iPhone user

I bought a Nokia Lumia 920 (Windows Phone 8), and ditched my iPhone 4. The Windows Phone is like having a dedicated GPS navigation system and phone in one. The iPhone was totally useless in comparison

thomas

Have 2 Windows phones, and one Andriod. I haven’t used the iPhones excepts as tests just to try it out (nothing long term), but the usability of the Win phones have the others players cold…just so easy to use. Of course they screwed up by not making all of the Win 7.5 apps not auto run in Win 8, so they have to be ported, will not as-is…another set back. Having 10K apps vs. 600K is not going to cut it.

Philosophically, to me it’ll be far more interesting to see if the anti-eco-system strategy (that is the opposite of how the PC industry evolved) a la Apple, but I suspect it will not pan out, and the far more partner-friendly (free, more devices, more retailers, etc.) model of Andriod will win out in the end and dethrone Apple and Microsoft…though it will be a bit messy because there is going to be more and more fragmentation, but that’s the way the PC originally beat out the centralized, deterministic way of Apple, and to a lesser degree, now Microsoft.

Mark Walker

For me it’s the apps’s that make a phone, it would be really difficult for me to switch from apple as my phone, iPad and iTunes account have so much money already invested, having said that if something came up which offered to improve my experience I would consider it, I tried this back when the Samsung galaxy s2 came out, my business uses many google tools and the attraction was better integration, but after 6 months I could not get the galaxy to do what I needed it to do, so went back to apple.

JM

What is comes down to here is what works the best for you? Barring market share and popularity, what phone has been consistent in its stability and use for your personal preference? I started with a Windows Smart Phone back when it was running 5.0, 6.0 and 6.5 It wasn’t until the iPhone 4 where I made the switch to an iOS phone. What I found was that Windows Phone was stable, it worked real well and did what it did best – phone calls and e-mail. When I got the iPhone 4 it was very difficult for me to get used to it. The reason being is that I didn’t use the non-phone/e-mail features much at first and that is what was hard to deal with. Now, I have an iPhone5 and the reason I have gotten to like iPhones in general is because it does the job of making phone calls and e-mail well. It also has apps, gps (Waze), internet, and social that works great which is what I have become accustomed to. I want to try to a new Windows Phone, but the caveat here is what I have allowed myself to become used to in my phone. My phone holds over 30 GB of music, syncs my pictures to iPhoto, links with Messages on my Mac, is a simple BT experience in my car … etc. If I can get that kind of connectivity out of the box on the Windows Phone, and make it all work, then switching isn’t a second thought. But it is. For tablets I use Android, for desktops/laptops I use Macs/PCs. But the game changer for me here is my Windows 8 RT tablet. It is causing me to re-think my gadget eco-system and making me want to take the plunge on a Windows Phone but the most compelling issue has always plagued Windows Phone and now Windows RT – apps! No apps is why Windows Phone will languish, just like BlackBerry had and will. The bad part is that the Windows eco-system is ripe and the devs need to realize that and help it to grow. Windows can be the game changer as long as Microsoft keeps the momentum going with it.

Gary Irving

I was a iPhone 4 user that made the switch to the Windows 8 HTC handset, after 1 week I was desperate to off load & get back to iOS, It was Ok, nothing was majorly wrong it just didnt feel as sleek & professional. I know it’s still early days for the device & platform the problem is as a long time smartphone user I don’t want to feel like I’m BETA testing the device & sending reports back to windows to fix problems that shouldn’t exist, anyway, found a poor gullable sould with an iPhone5 who wanted a straight swap, happy days for me, think he’s regretting it now but no chance am I switching back, BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

Dalaman9

The hardware only lasts so long. If you buy an Iphone, the battery is ‘toast’ after a year of usual use. People will move, when they’re ready and when they are fed up with their platform. Same same mobile operators.

jedibeeftrix

“What will it take for you to switch to or initially start with BlackBerry 10?”

Edited, because Win8 isn’t even a remote possibility, but:

1. Rapid adoption in hardware and software of OpenGL ES 3.0 & OpenCL full profile

2. Steam App support

3. Personal use of the BBOS10 work profile for multiple identity management

4. Smartwatch support via sync apps that work with Metawatch/Pebblewatch devices

5. Large screen devices (4.7″ and larger)

That should cover it for this N9 (meego/harmattan) user.

If BBOS10 cannot manage all or most of the above I will have a hard look at Jolla when it arrives

Tom

“the first being the maturity of the current smartphone platforms. After five years in this current age, all the heavy lifting is done, meaning the biggest platform breakthroughs have already been made.”

Of all of the stupid quotes I’ve read on tech sites, this one is one of the most absurd. The concept of personal connected computing devices is in its infancy and has decades of changes. In just ten years we’ll look back at the iPhone and Android as archaic devices, as Win95 looks today.

The door is open for anyone to move past the static iPhone era icon grid…

Brian Miller

In 1984, many were convinced that “most PC innovation has already taken place,” and advised people to stick with their Commodore 64s, TRS-80s, and Atari 800s rather than buy a new-fangled PC or Mac as well.

Jennifer Matthews

I’m sorry but I really don’t understand how people like this author come to the conclusion that Microsoft is dead in the smartphone race. I am one of the first Iphone users and I’ve enjoyed all of the iphone iterations up until the 4s. Recently, I had to renew my AT&T contract so I took a peak at the Nokia Lumia 920 just for fun but also because I always felt something was lacking in the iphone. All I have to say is WOW!!!! The Windows Phone (particularly this Lumia 920) is just amazing and blows away the iphone in almost every important category. Screen Size and resolution is better; Camera and Video capabilities are much, much better; Hardware and design is absolutely breathtaking and modern; the windows live tiles are so much more powerful and useful than iphone’s static icons; Social aggregation is just amazing and productive — no need to go to multiple apps (e.g., facebook, twitter, linkedin) to quickly find out what’s going on; skydrive is amazing and perfectly integrated with all my devices; and last but not least, I get all of the Microsoft Office products that work great on the phone. I agree that blackberry will have a terribly difficult uphill battle, but Microsoft will eventually win market share over time. They already have a better product than Android and Apple. Now it’s just a matter of marketing and brute force (and leveraging the Windows 8 ecosystem) which Microsoft will have no problem doing. And for all those out there saying that Windows Phone doesn’t have enough “Apps”, I respectfully disagree. They have tons of apps and the ones that are most relevant to me are already there. And for those few important apps that people might point to, they will certainly be on the platform soon.

Susan Antony

People are always changing their OSes and hardware and often upgrade existing software apps. Why would this be any different?
I remember spending $2,000.00 to upgrade from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 so people spending a few hundred dollars on apps in addition to the phone itself to be able to get the latest and greatest OS and phone is not a big deal.
If people think it is cool enough or has better features, it will sell, regardless of whether they have to buy apps again.
That is what history has shown us. Why would it be any different this time around?

B

I have a Windows 7.5 phone. The Nokia Lumia 710. I love it other than the screen is a bit too small at 3.7″ You just can’t appreciate “Live Tiles” until you have and use them for a week or so. They are addictive. I am loving how Microsoft has completed it eco-system with the release of Windows Phone 8. I will upgrade to that OS when my current contract expires. I hope Blackberry and Window Phone can co-exist and take on Android and Apple in a combined effort rather than fighting each other for third place. JMHO.

Madlyb

Apple brought basically two things to the Smartphone industry, an OS designed around simple Touch (fingers not styli) and an ecosystem with a strong revenue model and Microsoft and RIM both missed this and are still struggling to catch up, so in principle I agree with the author, but I think he inaccurately correlates Android to iPhone and they are simply not the same.

I have been an Android user for almost 3 years, and I don’t have that large of an investment because Android has traded revenue for market share basically giving away the software at all levels and as a result many of that base will never be premium users, so loyalty or lock-in is minimal at best.

I think both Microsoft and RIM have an opportunity to take share from Android, but the battle will be deeper with Apple base and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t seen either company bring something truly new and strong to the table.

JD Sharpe

SIR, NO DISRESPECT BUT—

BLACKBERRY 10 IS A GAME CHANGER. THINK WHEN APPLE INTRODUCED THE FIRST IPOD. GAME. CHANGER. OR EVEN BETTER, THINK ABOUT WHO “REINVENTED” THE MOBILE INDUSTRY BEFORE APPLE. RIM DID IT.

BLACKBERRY 10 IS ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED PLATFORMS TO COME IN YEARS. RIM TRULY HAS REINVENTED THE WAY WE INTERACT WITH OUR EVERYDAY DEVICES. NO LONGER WILL ASK THE QUESTION OF “WHICH PHONE IS BETTER?”. BUT NOW WE WILL SIMPLY THINK TO OURSELVES; WHICH PHONE WORKS BEST FOR ME? WHICH PHONE MAKES MY EVERYDAY LIFE EASIER, MORE PRODUCTIVE, AND MORE ENJOYABLE.

THE FACTS STILL REMAIN. RIM IS A GOOD COMPANY. THEY’VE SLACKED FOR SOME YEARS NOW AND NOW THEY ARE BACK. SIMPLE.

greatartiststeals

guess it depends on your target audience. Consumers who have invested in a platform will find it less appealing to switch. Corporations on the other hand are balancing their policies to accommodate BYOD but many are still with BB due to security and control concerns with Apple and Android. many of these companies are looking at Windows and the integration with Active Directory as a wholistic solution to manage mobile devices. This is an area of opportunity for Windows to leverage.

jhesr

I don’t see how a third platform will be viable. Both ios and android have too much of a head start in terms of apps and functionality for a third competitor to catch up.

Also with these two platforms you have the entire price/feature range covered, from the cheapest to the most expensive. I don’t see any niche left for a third competitor to come in and exploit.

I think the smartphone market is a lost cause for both Microsoft and Rim.

Tim W.

I’ve never paid for my Android phones (2 of them) and only bought a few apps. MS may have a great product in WP8, but they will have to give the phones away in order to catch up. Apple and Google have saturated the market already.

Seventhson

When you can integrate management of mobile devices into current server configs, then yes, there is something new that MS can offer the market. It’s also the reason why corporate phones will be Windows mobile in the future, and spill down to personal phones from there…

Andrea Barbera

Have already switched to Windows Phone, most trouble-free mobile experience I’ve ever had. Oh and it looks and feels like something fresh and modern, unlike the other offerings.

majortom1981

So I am guessing I am unique then right? I switched from an iphone 4s to a nokia 920. My father switched from an android phone to a nokia 810 and my mom got a nokia 810 also

JimmyFal

As Windows 8 becomes installed on 10’s to hundreds of millions of PC’s the similarities of the user interfaces between devices begins to hit consumers in that familiarity bone. I can agree with much of what you said, except one.

“neither appears poised to become a third horse in smartphones”

Microsoft indeed, appears poised to become a third horse in the near future, and a dominant player in time, because their ecosystem is increasingly becoming cohesive, coherent and complete. It’s about 80% there. From the living room to the PC, to the Bluetooth car stereo, to the tablet, to the phone, the experience is extremely consistent and getting better, not by the year, but by the day.

Piero

3 years ago, I switched from BB to Android, because I could only find the form-factor I needed on Android, and Android was coming to a point it was matching my need in terms of software feature-set (and the freedom I received from this process was the final nail that prevented me from ever looking back). I can see people looking for something very specific (be it hardware or software) – like me at the time – switch from one plateform to the other.

But it requires someone with the time and willpower to “learn the new plateform”, and I’m sure those inclined to do so will be only few.

markz

While I think there’s some truth in what you say I think you forget that for many people a smartphone is a phone. I care a lot more about how the phone works than about apps I’m not planning to use or an ecosystem. I recently switched to WP8 and it transferred my contact list from Android (really well, actually) and it has what I need – a good driving app, email, maps, a browser and good voice-to-text.

I picked a Lumia 810 because after reading reviews I decided the sound quality and phone quality were tops. Indeed I love it. Compared with my prior android phone the speakerphone is way better and the audio quality (mic and speaker) is great. The few 3rd party apps I really care about (like Urbanspoon) are nicely done. I’d like a few improvements to the built-in apps but nothing I care that much about and no more or less than I felt with Android.

So, I’m not convinced we aren’t instead getting to a point where OSes are interchangeable for most users and it’s not the OS it’s the phone.

Matt Eagar

My company launched as an iOS accessory (hardware + app) play in 2009. At the time, we received occasional requests for support on Blackberry, Android, and webOS – a few a month for each platform. Over the course of the next year, webOS requests dried up completely, and Blackberry requests remained about constant. But requests for Android support skyrocketed to the point where we were receiving several requests each day. In early 2011 we released an Android app, and things got quiet again.

Over the last couple of months we have started seeing a significant increase in requests for WP support. It’s not several a day yet, but it is several a week. I think we are starting to see WP pick up steam – wouldn’t rule them out just yet.

On the other hand, we still only get a couple of requests each month for Blackberry support. Software aside, I think many people have lost confidence in RIM, and don’t want to be stuck with them if the house crumbles. In this case, I don’t think it’s a question of platform locking in customer base, as much as it is fear of the failure of a platform that is keeping people out.

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