Windows Phone 8 got its moment in the spotlight at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference today. The question is, why did Microsoft even bother?
The core audience members at the Worldwide Partner Conference are resellers, integrators, service providers and consultants who sell Microsoft products to businesses. But as the success of the iPhone and Android shows, it’s consumers who are in charge in the smartphone market. If it were up to IT, BlackBerry would still rule the roost.
Sure, Microsoft showed off some welcome enterprise features in Windows Phone 8 this morning. Thom Gruhler, the Windows Phone marketing vice president, highlighted its integration with Microsoft’s other business software, including Exchange, Office and SharePoint, and he talked about its device and application management capabilities.
“Windows Phone 8 is business ready,” Gruhler said. But it doesn’t matter.
When you go to buy a new phone, you don’t say, “This one can connect securely to my corporate intranet? Sweet! I’ll take it!” You base your decision on more personal reasons: “How does this help me stay in touch with friends and family?” “How does it help me organize my life?”
In an attempt to highlight Windows Phone’s consumer appeal, Gruhler noted that seven of the 10 highest-rated smartphones on Amazon are Windows Phones. But that only illustrates Microsoft’s problem further: Windows Phone isn’t a bad platform. The people who use it seem to like it a lot. Most consumers simply have no reason to switch from the iPhone or Android.
If Windows Phone 8 is going to catch on, it’ll have to give consumers a reason. And being “business ready” isn’t it.