A number of journalists and analysts seem to have written off Windows Phone 7 for dead, considering it too little too late for Microsoft to enter a smartphone race already dominated by Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, and RIM’s Blackberry. While Microsoft does have an uphill battle, it’s far from over. The following are a list of the things Microsoft needs to do to get back into the race.
Release Awesome Games
I wrote an article awhile back detailing why I felt Nintendo didn’t have to be afraid of Apple. One of my main arguments was that Nintendo has regularly made the greatest video games on the planet, and as long as they continued to do that, people would continue to buy Nintendo devices.
Although Microsoft doesn’t have the library of video game gems that Nintendo has, the same argument can apply to make Windows Phone 7 a success. While the iPhone has a ton of games in their store, it’s been predominantly filled with titles of little worth. Android has even less games. Unlike Apple and Google, Microsoft has in house video game developers who have developed megahits such as the Halo series, Fable series, Forza Motorsports series, Age of Empires series, and many of the recently released Kinect titles. They also published megahits such as Gears of War and the original Mass Effect.
Microsoft needs to leverage it’s advantage with Xbox to produce a number of the best mobile games for smartphones. They can be through in house development, publishing third party titles, re-releasing older titles, or even just the ability to help developers easily port games between Windows, Xbox, and Windows Phone. Imagine the fan hype if Windows Phone 7 had a port of the original Halo released on it. Ultimately, Microsoft needs to try and make Windows Phone 7 the gaming platform that gamers really want, rather than the ok-gaming platform the iPhone currently is.
Do Microsoft Office Online Right
Lets face it, Microsoft Office has been king amongst office applications for along time. While Google Docs has made some tiny inroads in that space, Office is still the predominant platform for white collar workers. Microsoft recently released their online competitor to Google Docs called Office Live (found here). Microsoft needs to integrate their Office Live (or just plain Office itself) into Windows Phone 7 to make inroads in the enterprise space. While a lot of employees may simply like the iPhone or Blackberry more, at the end of the day the enterprise needs the phones to be useful for their business. To some extent, one can consider Office the “killer app” that Microsoft needs to do right to drive Windows Phone 7 sales.
Treat Developers Right
In a previous article, I discuss at length the frustrations many developers have with the Apple App store. Apple has rejected a number of apps for the store and deleted a number of apps from the store for seemingly unknown or random reasons. In addition, Apple rarely gives developers a reason why they reject an app or give hypocritical reasons for the rejection (e.g. a seemingly identical app is accepted or not deleted). Due to the iPhone’s popularity, many developers have stomached Apple’s capricious behavior to sell their software to larger audiences.
Slowly though, it appears that other platforms are gaining favor due to lighter restrictions on development. BusinessInsider notes that more developers are now developing on Android than iPhone now.
Microsoft needs to engage and embrace the development community far better than Apple to win over software developers to their platform. They don’t need to relax app submission requirements, such as how Google has does for their Android Marketplace. However, they need to avoid the capricious and random behavior of Apple’s App store. Giving developers clear instructions on how to get an app accepted, giving clear reasons for an app’s rejection, and giving developers answers on how to fix an app for acceptance, would help endear developers towards the Windows Phone 7 platform.
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Jay Yarrow, “CHART OF THE DAY: Android Used By More Developers Than Apple”, BusinessInsider
“Microsoft Game Studios”, Wikipedia