Rs. 280,000. That’s the worth of 15 Windows Phone sales that happened because of my influence, direct and indirect. While that may be a paltry sum for Microsoft, one shouldn’t forget that the activation of all those Windows phones resulted in creation of 12 Microsoft Accounts. I know none of those accounts ever opted for an Office 365 subscription or a premium account on OneDrive. But, that’s a fair amount of promotion for Microsoft’s products and services. They would’ve contributed, albeit in a small way, to the resurgence of Microsoft in the last 5 years.
Now, if I were paid a small commission of 5% for every Windows Phone sale that I influenced (leaving out the 3 phones I have purchased over these years, spending 65k), it still is a good enough amount to buy a decent mid-range smartphone.
My first smartphone was a Nokia Lumia 800 – the first modern Windows Phone running on Windows Phone 7. I loved that handset. It had the build quality only Nokia could provide at those price points. The beautiful live-tiles (known as metro UI then) were also powerful. The colors, the concept of hubs (people, music & videos) and the kind of social integration features it offered including Facebook, Twitter and MSN Messenger made the phone very powerful while placing people at the centre of your smartphone universe. This was a distinct character of Windows Phone and was a contrast to the app-based utilitarian approach adopted by iOS and Android. While the OS had quite a few shortcomings and limitations in terms of essential features, apps and hardware capabilities, the future of the OS looked promising.
One morning, Microsoft announced a newer version of the OS and called it Windows Phone 8. It asked its existing customers to ‘go to hell’ because they bought a WP7 handset. It was done by not providing any way to upgrade to the newer OS citing ‘incompatible hardware’. Most users frowned, some like me silently bought a new handset running WP8.
My Nokia Lumia 920 was a brilliant phone. It was the best built phone in the market and felt like a weapon in my palms. WP8 matured slowly in the form of Cyan and Denim updates pushed by Nokia. The OS was now truly competing with Android and iOS and had gathered the second spot in markets like India and some European and African countries. It saw a double-digit market share in UK and Italy. Apps started flowing in slowly and most Indian developers including banks, telecom operators, media houses and e-commerce startups offered a well designed app on the platform. Some apps provided a delightful experience compared to counterparts in rival platforms. ICICI bank’s iMobile, HDFC Bank’s official app were some examples. The success of Lumia 520, 720 and 640 had resulted in a 7% market share in India.
But why would Microsoft care? It had only 3% in US and roughly the same worldwide. It couldn’t live with that. If they had simply abandoned these markets and had ensured a steady flow of high-quality , low-cost handsets in markets like India, it could have easily built itself a brand following. Lumia had come to be recognized here.
Microsoft, instead, chose to develop a new OS again. They promised that they will provide an upgrade path to existing WP8 phones. They failed us again there. The WP8 phones that had sold most didn’t get the upgrade and the users were left in the lurch.
I liked the new OS and enjoyed the advantage of UWP (Universal Windows Platform) for apps. I switched to a new Microsoft Lumia 650 even as Microsoft announced it would be the last Lumia. They did promise a few more handsets at different price points but didn’t live up to their word.
Microsoft’s ever-changing strategy and the resulting fragmentation of OS versions have forced developers and publishers to pull their apps out of the store or replace existing native apps with crappy web wrappers. Amazon and iMobile are among them. Some others like Instagram and Flipkart have replaced existing native Windows apps with iOS ports. These apps, however, are painfully slow.
Disappearing apps, unavailable apps and an uncertain future has forced genuine fans like me to think about switching to a different platform.
Frankly, both iOS and Android suck. They’re not fun to use like Windows Phones are. There’s no personal touch, there’s no liveliness to them. Android, especially, lacks character.
Still, I tried my hands on my dad’s Moto E3 Power (I had to move him from my old Lumia 920 for the same reasons). I started missing my Windows Phone within 48 hours and now using both. The one thing Android surely has is developer support. And that’s important to have all the important apps. Windows can never reach there, thanks to Microsoft’s own strategy, or should I say ‘the lack of it’. When it comes to strategy and announcements, only Reserve Bank of India has done a higher number of U-Turns than Microsoft .
When I was planning this blog a few days ago, Microsoft sent a mail to its ‘Insiders’ in India announcing a new and exclusive Windows Scoop Fan page on Facebook so that we can keep a tab on the latest developments and features of Windows 10. There’s hardly any mention of the word ‘mobile’ in that mail.
Microsoft owes me. If I were in Satya Nadella’s place and someone else had been a valued customer like I think I am, I’d have gifted a Surface Book (if not Surface Studio). Just like that, as a token of appreciation. For living with their indecisiveness at the cost of my money, time and the comfort of writing blogs like these on a phone running an official app of WordPress!
P.S. Written on my brand new Moto G Play 😐