Microsoft recently released its Q4 FY 2013 results and the news from the Windows Phone division looks positive. Windows Phone revenue, reflecting patent licensing revenue and sales of Windows Phone licenses, increased $222 million. Some of this was offset by lower revenue from the Xbox 360 platform and the Entertainment and Devices Division (EDD) reported a net revenue increase of $134 million. So what seems to be working for Windows Phones?
Modern/Microsoft Design Language provides users a refreshing experience. The start screen provides more than just shortcuts to apps. Users can pin “Live Tiles” on the start screen. These Live Tiles can be people, apps, websites or other favorites which can be updated real time with information by the app publisher through the Microsoft Push Notification Service (MPNS).
Apps – The Windows Phone store currently has more than 165,000 apps. Microsoft in partnership with Nokia and app developers are bringing out new apps every week. MS Office Suite with Word, PowerPoint and Excel come pre-installed on WP8. Voxer, MetroTube, Gym PocketGuide, Photostatic, Spotify are some of the latest popular apps and more apps such as Vine, Path, Flipboard, Oggl are expected to be made available on the Windows Phone store soon. Some say that the fewer the number of apps, the easier it is to search for relevant apps. So perhaps having just 165,000 apps is not such a bad thing. Microsoft though needs to focus on bringing quality apps and worry less about the quantity in its app store.
Nokia Lumia is consistently rated as one of the best line of phones (and we heartily agree!). Among the Windows Phones, Nokia has 85% market share. The phones are competitively priced and have been quoted as the best looking phones compared to their competitors. They are colorful and bold. Nokia’s apps – Nokia Here (previously Nokia Maps), Nokia music, City Lens among many others are bridging the app gap and helping the Windows Phone market advance. The latest Lumia phones have very good cameras (Lumia 1020 has a 41 megapixel sensor) but even for the older phones, the pre-loaded lens softwares – Bing Vision, Panaroma, Cinematograph and Smart Shoot make picture capture better and fun.
While all of the above are definitely positive, these factors have been able to push the WP market only to a limited extent. Its market share went up by one percentage point in Q2 2013 bringing it close to 5%. We have listed here a few issues that Microsoft needs to address to improve its consumer and developer base.
Improved Operating System: Some of the top features that have been on windows phone users’ wish list are a unified notification center, quick settings, ability to multitask between several apps, volume controls, better memory management and multiple screens supporting live tiles. These features have been standard on iOS and Android for some time and it is high time before Microsoft addresses these issues in their next upgrade of the OS.
Quality Apps: As mentioned earlier, Microsoft needs to focus on developing quality apps rather than quantity. As mentioned by Mario Chiappetta in this blog, there are three types of apps in the Windows Phone app store:
Apps specifically designed for the Windows Phone OS
Apps primarily developed for other platforms but modified and ported to WP
Wrappers for mobile websites
Apps in the first category are great and are fun to use. The apps in the remaining two categories need to be designed better to work on the Windows Phone OS.
Improve revenue potential for developers: Based on a recent survey done by Vision Mobile, developer interest in Windows Phone decreased by 12% since Q1 2013 with more platforms (Blackberry, Firefox OS, Tizen, Ubuntu and Jolla) competing for their attention. According to their survey, Windows Phone is most popular for developers looking for a good development environment and documentation. However, these are not among the top three criteria that developers look at before choosing a platform. The top three are – revenue potential, user reach, and speed and cost of development.