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Current state of Windows Phone: What's the hold up?

Posted: , by John V.

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Current state of Windows Phone: What's the hold up?
Something is dreadfully wrong, terribly wrong in the Windows Phone camp! If you’ve somehow stumbled across one of my social networking accounts, whether it’s Twitter or Google+, you’re probably well aware about some of the devices I personally use. Being a reviewer and all, it’s not uncommon to see me babbling away about a wide array of smartphones that span several mobile platforms, but to be frank, the majority of the time I’m using either the iPhone or the latest Android smartphone. Up until last year, one of my daily drivers included the constant usage of a Windows Phone – Sprint’s HTC Arrive, or as the folks abroad like to call it, the HTC 7 Pro. Are you shocked yet by that revelation? Most people would probably be astounded by that fact, especially knowing how little traction there is from manufacturers regarding sales figures with Windows Phones.

The only Sprint Windows Phone to date, the HTC Arive.

The only Sprint Windows Phone to date, the HTC Arive.

Like I’ve detailed several times in the past, I’ve been a fan of Microsoft’s mobile platform, especially during the early days of Pocket PC when I was still trotting around a few PDA devices – then transitioning over to Windows Mobile eventually. With the introduction of Windows Phone 7 Series, which aptly was rebranded to Windows Phone for the sake of convention, I was injected with the same desire that first wooed me to Microsoft’s platform in the first place. After a year and a half of using the HTC Arrive for Sprint, I naturally desired something new, something fresh, and heck, maybe something original for a change. Since swapping out my HTC Arrive for a Samsung Galaxy S III, I’ve been waiting patiently for something else to come along the way – yet, the sad truth is that Sprint hasn’t offered any new Windows Phone smartphones since the HTC Arrive.

Sure, I could go look at the other domestic carriers, and the more you compare them, the obvious truth arises in the fact that the GSM carriers get the bulk of love – albeit, Verizon has been slowly amassing its own refined lineup of late. When you look at what has been happening the last year alone, we see many manufacturers delivering a single flagship device, and launching it on not only one specific carrier, but to all major and a few regional carriers too. For example, that’s what we saw with the Galaxy S III, and more recently, the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. However, with Windows Phone, we saw a similar approach with devices like the HTC 8X Windows Phone, but for some strange reason, Nokia’s route has been less direct. Specifically, we saw the Nokia Lumia 920 launch with AT&T in the fall, with its variant in the Lumia 928 arriving on Verizon’s lineup not too long ago, and the Lumia 925 will be debuting on T-Mobile shortly. Inconsistency can kill the buzz, right? Indeed, each of those aforementioned Lumia devices differ somehow, but in the greater scheme of things, it’s the time in between the releases that can greatly hurt sales.

Nokia Lumia 920 released October 2012. Lumia 928 released May 2013. Lumia 925 is coming soon. Why the wait?
Nokia Lumia 920 released October 2012. Lumia 928 released May 2013. Lumia 925 is coming soon. Why the wait?
Nokia Lumia 920 released October 2012. Lumia 928 released May 2013. Lumia 925 is coming soon. Why the wait?

Nokia Lumia 920 released October 2012. Lumia 928 released May 2013. Lumia 925 is coming soon. Why the wait?

And don’t get me started with Sprint, as the carrier has been reluctant to even remotely tinker the idea of bringing ANY sort of Windows Phone to its wing. Honestly, it’s tough to wager who’s to blame at the end of the day – whether it’s the carriers, manufacturers, or Microsoft itself. But one thing’s painstakingly obvious: Windows Phone will continue to be in the shadow of its rivals until this issue is passively resolved – well, maybe aggressively would be the likely candidate at this time. Knowing that Nokia has a huge stake in the platform, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve been the most vocal. In order for the platform to continue building steam, the potential is blatantly there considering that there’s a close parallel between the UI structures of Windows Phone and Windows 8, which would help meld the two together for consumers that are looking for transparency. Regardless, this meddling issue has been persistent over the last year – with no end in sight at the moment!

If we were to look at some of the early Windows Phones, it felt as though they were cheap ports of some other highly prized Android smartphones. Remember the HTC HD7? Well, that reminded me of an inferior HTC EVO 4G at the time. And how about that Samsung Focus, which eerily looked and was spec’d like a Samsung Galaxy S. As for some of the other recent devices, it’s arguable that the HTC 8X Windows Phone was simply a redesigned HTC One X. Don’t get me started with specs, since I know from experience that it doesn’t necessarily translate to a high-performing device all the time. Despite that, specs are still dignified in the way that they help sprinkle that notion of drool worthiness that make us crave something tremendously – to the point that we must have it! Yet, Windows Phones in general seem to employ hardware that’s regarded in the Android world as last-gen.

HTC HD7 & 8X Windows Phone, are they just inferior ports of their Android counterparts?
HTC HD7 & 8X Windows Phone, are they just inferior ports of their Android counterparts?

HTC HD7 & 8X Windows Phone, are they just inferior ports of their Android counterparts?

Just to recap my point, there’s this choking hold up going on in the Windows Phone world right now. From the lack of offerings from manufacturers (well, everyone aside from Nokia), to the lack of consistency with the release of closely related models, these pervasive issues are hindering Windows Phone from overcoming the gap in its position in the market place. Seriously, when we’re seeing so many innovations over in the Android space, it doesn’t bode well for Microsoft’s platform when it comes to attracting long lasting relationships with its partners. I really want to go back to Windows Phone as my daily driver, honestly, but I can’t commit when all of these factors are drowning the platform slowly. So who’s going to be the one to stand up and deliver the good news for a change?

  • Options

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:17 22

1. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 4290; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)

I hope things change...
Microsoft will not be able to keep up with Android at this pace.
Sales will be consistent for WP but while we are at the current status of 8, surpassing Android still feels like a dream.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:39 10

6. SuperMaoriBro (Posts: 533; Member since: 23 Jun 2012)

Back when wp8 was announced I really wanted to get a device running it. But the products took months to arrive, I gave up waiting and bought a flagship android. Now im deep in the android eco system with no regrets. MS after you build hype make it easy for someone to purchase your products - we are an impatient bunch :)

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:17 10

13. squallz506 (banned) (Posts: 1075; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

Wp8's market share is growing John V. Truth is most windows phones are world phones especially the nokia's. And to be a world phone, it is just easier to be a gsm sim card accepting phone. Sprint doesn't do that. It's Sprint's fault, not Microsoft's.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:23

14. roldefol (Posts: 4364; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)

Sprint doesn't use regular SIM cards on their LTE phones? What do they use then? I ask because while my VZW LTE phone wasn't initially a "world phone", it recently became one via software update.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:30

16. tacarat (Posts: 804; Member since: 22 Apr 2013)

For compatibility where LTE isn't in place, Sprint and Verizon phones still have CDMA equipment built in for voice. LTE is mostly being used for data until more infrastructure is built up. It's why you can't use cellular voice and data on their iPhones in most areas just yet. Apple wouldn't make hardware adjustments for them, whereas a lot of Android makers would.

Or so I hear. Can't post links yet >.>

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:40

21. roldefol (Posts: 4364; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)

True, LTE is data-only for now, but Verizon's infrastructure is almost complete. I just recently discovered the iPhone 5 doesn't allow simultaneous CDMA voice and LTE data, which is, for lack of a better word, crap. They didn't want to add (or lacked room for) a separate LTE antenna, and since CDMA accounts for only a small portion of Apple's sales, they didn't feel a need to accommate the carriers. So AT&T still has talk-and-surf bragging rights. Thanks, Apple!

That doesn't explain why Sprint couldn't carry a Lumia 92x though, since Nokia should definitely be able to support the extra antenna.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 16:21

26. tacarat (Posts: 804; Member since: 22 Apr 2013)

I was incredibly surprised the i5 didn't do that for S/V. Apple does what Apple does, but still. As for Sprint, I have a feeling they don't want people considering other phones than iPhones and what they have now for a few reasons.

The first is that they have made contractual arrangements to sell a ton of iphones. There's probably a penalty if they fail to meet that.

Second, a new OS would require more training of staff on their end for support, more effort and all those things that add up to higher costs. Sprint has a major selling point on their pricing. I'm pretty sure they'll avoid having to hike prices if they can.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 19:09

35. OldWarrior632 (Posts: 14; Member since: 03 Jun 2013)

Indeed, Sprint comitted to buying a very large number of iPhones from Apple, whether they sold them or not. (Take or Pay) in order to get the Iphone. If you look at Sprint's history, they have not shown a profit in over 5 years (as far as my research can go back) and in 2014, they are only estimated to even break even in Q3, followed by a -$0.13 in Q4. Sprint may have a lot of customers, but are not anyone's road to success. Verizon will be the live or die for WP phones, and the store I bought my 928 from last week had never even seen one until mine came in. Grim news.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:32 2

18. TheBitterrTruth (unregistered)

It will definitely take time to surpass android, even iOS but I think they can at least gain a good share in OS industry.
They should increase their apps.

posted on 04 Jun 2013, 03:15

50. selena1000 (Posts: 85; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)

well the true reason why android is huge is because its on almost every phone in market form makers like Samsung and HTC to local chinese makers. thats why it has a high market share

posted on 06 Jun 2013, 16:44

53. sgodsell (Posts: 4754; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)

The real problem is Microsoft controls too much of the WP OS and hardware. So OEMS can't deviate to much from Microsoft's controlled hw specs. Also how can any one company compete with android, especially since android is open to anyone. So any OEM can take android, modify it, and breath new innovation into it. Not to mention Linux supports a multitude of different CPUs.

posted on 06 Jun 2013, 19:04

54. gd761 (Posts: 150; Member since: 18 Sep 2012)

As for Microsoft controlling the Hardware Specs, you are right to a point. You can NOT put Less than what Microsoft says that they Want for their WP OS, but you can Exceed Microsoft's Min Specs. Most Companies want to just use what they can get the Most Profit from. So if they use an outdated CPU, then they Will do that. If they want to use sub par Memory, then they Will do that as well.

So with Microsoft telling the Manufacturers what the Min Specs they can use, is NOT a bad thing for the Customers at all. It just effects the Profits of the Manufacturers. It only effects them in the short term, because they will be buying MORE of the Higher Spec Parts for the Phones which drives down the cost which in turn drives up the profit.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:19

2. sharks (Posts: 236; Member since: 16 Feb 2013)

Much ado about nothing.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:19 10

3. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)

Very good article! I just so agree with this. Microsoft is so close to a perfect OS, but for some reason they just don't put enough effort in it. And that's sad because I really love WP and Nokia. Microsoft just needs a little kick to it's butt so the whole WP ecosystem would go up like a rocket!

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:48 12

10. ZeroCide (Posts: 785; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)

I argree its almost perfect. Almost being the key word. Microsoft needs to step up a bit and finish the lagging touches. If WP is Bulit on the Windows platform it has GREAT potential both as an OS and an ecosystem. Other developers besides Nokia should step up their game and make better phones. I hope BLUE brings the OS to full capabilites.

posted on 04 Jun 2013, 00:05

47. icyrock1 (Posts: 307; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)

Tbh, that's a problem that WP is facing. It seems to be that Nokia is the only one trying when it comes to new hardware. Microsoft needs to do something to get more people making handsets for the platform. HTC half heartedly tried with the 8X.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:20 1

4. _Bone_ (Posts: 2155; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)

For the sake of a healthy in-OS rivalry which is always good for the end-user, Nokia needs strong competition. It's pretty good how HTC, LG and Samsung are pushing each others on the Android front with Sony, Huawei and others remind them not to be lazy, someone needs to pressurize Nokia too.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:36

5. madpiyal (Posts: 108; Member since: 11 Feb 2013)

It seems like in US Windows Phone is not promoted and supported as in Asia. Whatever the current situation of Windows phone may be its nice to have another OS available. Even though I am yet to own a Windows Phone, I think like Mr John my next phone will be one( though John is waiting for a change). I always like when something is put together well. In this case the superb build quality of Nokia and a polished OS.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:40 5

7. tusshharish (Posts: 342; Member since: 23 Oct 2012)

microsoft should devolop wp more and should add support of newest hardware............also app devolopers should give attention towards wp........

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:41

8. tacarat (Posts: 804; Member since: 22 Apr 2013)

It's not quite their fault. Only 40 countries use CDMA. You have to have a "world phone" with a GSM chip to use their phones everywhere else. That will limit the sales potential of a CDMA only phone and make a more specialized phone more expensive.

Can't do much about the perception of old hardware for the windows phone. There are plenty of people buying high end phones for bragging rights rather than actual use. Have you considered an android phone with a W8 launcher?

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:45 7

9. sybersushi1 (Posts: 8; Member since: 29 May 2013)

I love Wp 8 so much!I hope i will sell my Samsung galaxy SIII and buy Nokia Lumia 925!


posted on 03 Jun 2013, 14:52 4

11. ZeroCide (Posts: 785; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)

Same here. I use both Android and WP, but i love the buttery slickness, flow and the fast app/game switching in WP and I only use 7.8. I can't wait to get a WP8 / WPBLUE device once my carrier has one.

AGREE!!! "MICROSOFT,NOKIA,WORLD wake up!" I'll add SPRINT to that!!!!!

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:16 1

12. scorpeyun (Posts: 26; Member since: 18 May 2012)

Very good article and hits all the right points! Being an IT admin and I've always been a Microsoft fan. I've been waiting for sprint to offer a windows phone for some time now but they are dragging there feet in the mud. If you want to keep you customers happy sprint at least provide them with all the options when it comes down to platform, not just what you think customers want. I use a Nokia 920 for my work phone from at&t because the option wasn't available with sprint.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:28 2

15. cornerofthemoon (Posts: 601; Member since: 20 Apr 2010)

I'd hate to think what shape the WP platform would be in now if it weren't for Nokia....

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:30 2

17. TheBitterrTruth (unregistered)

Windows phones = Nokia !

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 16:11

25. ZeroCide (Posts: 785; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)

That shouldn't be the case. All the other manufacturers should step up and make flagship phones in the WP platform. Right now Samsung and HTC are the only others that have made WP handsets. Recently Huawei has gotten into the game. All the other manufactuers like Sony, LG, Sharp, ZTE, and others need to step up.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 22:46 1

45. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)

Windows phones=down south

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:33 3

19. papss (unregistered)

Lol something must be terribly wrong..OMG John..could you be more dramatic? How about it being more about people not wanting change or are heavily invested in their platform? Sprint? Are they even a competitive carrier anymore? Tmob gets more phones then they do.
HTC is in piss poor shape themselves, SS is way more focused on where the user base is and their own OS. Should there be more? Absolutely. Is there something terribly wrong? I'd have to say not.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 15:35

20. DFranch (Posts: 247; Member since: 20 Apr 2012)

It seems Sprint is the one with the issue. AT&T, Verizon and soon T-mobile all have high end WP phones. It doesn't seem fair to blame anybody but Sprint for this one.

posted on 03 Jun 2013, 16:01

23. ZeroCide (Posts: 785; Member since: 09 Jan 2013)

Sprint is always late to the party.

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