Former Microsoft executive blames carriers and manufacturers for Windows Phone's failure

Former Microsoft executive blames carriers and manufacturers for Windows Phone's failure
Many former Windows Phone users will tell you that the so-called "app gap" was responsible for the failure of the platform to be competitive with iOS and Android. Now, Brandon Watson is rejecting that argument through a series of tweets. And Mr. Watson should know since he was Senior Director for Windows Phone between March 2010 and February 2012, and was the person in charge of "developer platform product management."

Watson is known as the individual who was able to somewhat close the "app gap" with Android and iOS, and helped to get several popular apps on board including Angry Birds. While working for Microsoft, he was responsible for the placement of 60,000 apps in the Windows Phone marketplace. From his unique perspective, he was able to respond to a tweet that once again claimed that the "app gap" was the reason for Windows Phone's demise. "You're talking to the wrong guy if you are going to make the claim they (Windows Phone) couldn't get apps developed. You couldn't be more wrong," Watson tweeted.

Instead, the former Microsoft executive said that he puts the blame for the platform's failure on the carriers and phone manufacturers. Without their support, Watson says that it would have been a long shot to beat Apple and Google. He says that Windows Phone received "second string devices." Watson's tweets were disseminated a couple of days after former Windows Phone chief Terry Myerson blamed the Windows CE kernel for "hobbling" Windows Phone. While that might have been true at first with Windows Phone 7 and 7.5, Windows Phone 8 employed the Windows NT kernel.

source: @BrandonWatson, MSPoweruser (1), (2)



1. Subie

Posts: 2381; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Apple didn't have carrier of manufacturer support either in 2007. Yet look where Apple is today. Microsoft could've designed and kept on making their own Windows Mobile devices if they so chose to continue to compete. You don't see Microsoft whining about tablet manufacturers and yet look where they are with Surface! Brandon Watson is entitled to his opinion and may have some points to make, but I don't entirely agree with them all. IMO Microsoft only has themselves to blame for not competing and continuing the battle in the hardware/OS mobile space. And I'm a fan of and use Windows 10 Mobile.

14. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Windows phone was not a good product compared to the iPhone period. That's why it failed. MS should've develop their concept further more by spending more resources. Specially they lack Apps which was the game changer for iPhone.

16. phoneguy

Posts: 213; Member since: Jan 08, 2009

You obviously missed the point of this article

37. sgodsell

Posts: 7430; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

It wasn't just one thing. It's was a number of things that added up to make Windows Phone fail. Especially right from the start. Like killing Windows CE/Mobile from the start. Microsoft was so big that Microsoft felt that they could really change things, and people would still take it and follow them. Like when the first series of Lumia devices arrived, those smartphones would not recieve the upgrade to Windows Phone 8. Microsoft made their.customers pay for their mistake. Plus Microsoft was so arrogant that they were charging OEMs $25 to install their WP OS, before any were even sold to the public. Whereas the OEMs could install and change Android all they wanted for free. Plus Android supported a lot more hardware and SoCs compared to Microsoft's paltry supported hardware list for WP. It's also at the end of 2010 that Android started to outsell iPhones, and all other smartphones. The writing was on the wall. Windows Phone after 2012 was still charging OEMs to install Microsoft's WP OS on each smartphone. No wonder why OEMs didn't want to make any WP devices. Even though it was down to $7 per WP device at that time. The other problems were WP only supported Qualcomm SoCs. But Android supported a multitude of different SoCs, and was still free. Microsoft was already going after OEMs to install their WP OS, but was also going after OEMs for Android royalties as well. At this point WP was on its way out for good. Look at what happened in the end. Microsoft bought and killed Nokia.

44. chris7223

Posts: 2; Member since: Apr 07, 2018

And that was just for starters. We can write a book on why Windows Phone failed.

22. Acdc1a

Posts: 475; Member since: Jan 21, 2016

It was superior in many ways. UI was most glaring.

29. rkoforever90

Posts: 459; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

windowsphone was far better than iphone it worked smoothly even on crappy specced phones yet didnt had unwanted restrictions like iphone it had file manager decent customization and one could install apps in micro sd can directly sent or drag and drop files via pc without need of any sync tools

36. Jason2k13

Posts: 1466; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

Not sure why you guys are replying to piyath... That guy knows nothing about tech.

2. mahima

Posts: 739; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

Microsoft is the one to blame. When Lumia 930 was ready, windows phone 8.1 was far from ready, so nokia launch lumia 929 which is exactly the same as nokia lumia 930 released more than 6months later. And Microsoft never listen to what the fans wanted. And the os itself was pretty(and i still wished for Windows phone ui simplicity and beauty) and i will always love windows phone...but the os development was too slow in a world of android and ios

35. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1436; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

The problem was that Windows Phone was never truly up to the task. Granted when W10M came rolling around the homescreen UI was nice and smooth with the live tiles, but the inconsistency in the rest of the UI remained as confusing as ever. How do you go about making an OS that's different on every level of the UI? The settings menu was a big mess, hardly any logic to it and often unclear about what specific sections it really encompassed. Basic apps like Facebook that came with the phone struggled to work correctly. Initially with WP8 you were dependent on a laptop to place files and ringtones in the correct folder on the phone to be able to access them, there was no way to do it from the phone itself, it didn't support a file explorer. Internet Explorer and later Edge were vastly inferior to Chrome or Safari, full of bugs. The keyboard was absolutely dreadful. Apps often contained less features than their iOS and Android counterparts or WP versions were simply not available. Notifications were limited in WP8 and 8.1 and W10M expanded the notification drawer, but still left basic accessibility to key functions unaccessible from there, so you had to dig through the settings menu to modify them so developers made live tiles with quick access to said functions. There was never just one thing wrong with Windows Phone, there was a lot wrong with it. I think however that the biggest problem it had, was that it was too much of a departure of what people knew and loved, an icon based UI. This was demonstrated perfectly when Windows 8 introduced the Metro/Modern UI. People hated the tile interface and wanted their desktop back with their icons and Microsoft gave in to that. People like consistency, continuity, they want more of the same with a slight subtle twist. People don't like different, they don't like complicated and Windows Phone was both. Even after years of development it barely moved forward, it didn't address its issues. And it's not like people didn't buy the phones, the Lumia 520 sold millions, but hardly any of those buyers stuck with the OS. It was a failure across-the-board, not just one aspect, but all of it.

3. rouyal

Posts: 1583; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

I'm going to have to agree with the app problem on Windows phone causing it to die. I got the Lumia 640 years ago when it was something like $30 at Walmart. I liked the phone with it's changeable colored polycarbonate backs, replaceable battery, and was just curious about the platform. When it came to the app store, it was a boneyard. The things I was used to doing on Android through apps, I couldn't do half on the windows phone. One example is that I have a WD my cloud NAS, and WD didn't make an app for Windows phones. There was more, but that's just off top of my head. As for the OS itself, I didn't think it was too bad, and could have seen myself using it if it had as much support as Android or iOS.

18. rouyal

Posts: 1583; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

Oh, and I think MS should make their own android fork. They can customize it to look and act exactly like WM, but have the benefit of the Play Store, or at the very least APK compatibly.

21. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

They did it with Nokia X. Unfortunately, it was a terrible experience.

4. haikallp

Posts: 319; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

It's definitely a combination of factors but the app gap stood out the most. Another factor is also how mature iOS and Android already were when WP was released. The two platforms already had loyal fanbases. The sudden jump of WP architecture from CE to NT also didn't bode well with many users. It's a pity though, I owned three WP devices previously. Except for the app gap, the OS was pretty great. More so after WP7.5 was released. And some of the hardware were great. HTC HD7, Lumia 1020, Lumia 930 etc. I honestly think if Microsoft continued their marketing and pushing manufacturers to implement WP, it could have at least get a 15-20% marketshare. But their support started dwindling down since 2015 or so.

5. jeffpom

Posts: 67; Member since: Dec 11, 2016

If you're going to blame anyone other than yourself... Blame Apple and Google. Those OS's were heavily ensconced when Windows Phone was released. Blame app developers and major companies that never developed apps for your device. This majorly narrowed your market. People didn't want your phone because apps weren't available for it that one could get on an iPhone or an Android based phone.

6. Sammy_DEVIL737

Posts: 1529; Member since: Nov 28, 2016

Windows Phone died because it would have been almost impossible to beat Google or Apple without carriers and "handset manufacturers embracing it". Really? So you are saying that handset manufacturers didn't embraced Windows phone OS. Nokia, Samsung, LG, hTC, Acer, Dell, Fijutsu, ZTE, Huawei & HP recently made a Elite X3 with WP10 OS even after it was almost dead. And the list goes on..... Brandon Watson is just giving reasons, it sucks that MSFT didn't cared to convince devs for devoloping apps the way Apple & Google did. I hope they come back with Surface Phone with wide app support.

7. lyndon420

Posts: 6822; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Pretty hard to split a pie three ways when there's no pie left to cut. Maybe they could have somehow appealed to children who's parents hadn't bought them a phone yet...get them while they're young and not already heavily committed to ios or android...the UI looked like it was designed by children anyway. They were too late to the game and too heavily vested in taking Google to court over things they never designed or created themselves. There was hope for WP...maybe next time they will focus on making a product that everyone will actually want to invest in.

8. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

Sounds like he's covering his ass to me, which is understandable because it was his baby. Sometimes you can't see the forest from the trees. The app gap was the only thing that held me back from using a Windows Phone as my primary device. I actually did use the HTC HD7 as my primary for like 6 months with an Android phone as a secondary that would fill in the gaps where the HD7 didn't have the apps. Once that announcement came out that all Windows 7 apps couldn't be used on Windows 8 I just called it and couldn't continue. The app gap was a big problem. I still use SquareHome Launcher on my HTC 10(secondary phone) because I liked the interface so much. Honestly Microsoft just needed to be able to Call the shots better. They should've jumped ship sooner, abandoned their OS, built up off of an Android base and put a Metro Launcher on Android. Then they would have had all the apps and controlled the UI. Problem is they didn't want to have to negotiate away their royalties they were getting from all the Android OEMs. In the end they are making s**t tons for doing nothing. They're set. But right now they still need to update their Microsoft Launcher to have a Metro UI, then all the Windows Phone Fanboys would have a new Windows Phone experience.

9. andriodfanboy1

Posts: 169; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Win phone was never meant to succeed or dominant markets like ios or Android.

10. antroid

Posts: 392; Member since: Jan 24, 2018

Some companies cannot admit with their failures, hopefully they could learn from their mistakes.

11. hurrycanger

Posts: 1765; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

You don't even have a functioning voice recorder, and you blame on others...

12. Phantom1031

Posts: 264; Member since: Aug 02, 2014

Microsoft never knew mobile business, their decisions were hasty and they were leaving their users in doubts, you cant win loyal customers with such strategies

13. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

When you fail you blame others for your falier Microsoft logic.

33. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Literal pronunciation of the word "Failure".

38. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

My bad thanks.

15. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Carriers won't bet on an inferior product...

41. Sammy_DEVIL737

Posts: 1529; Member since: Nov 28, 2016

Anything which will hurt your fruit company is inferior to you Right??

17. jellmoo

Posts: 2620; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Bull. Windows Phone failed because Microsoft failed it. It was a solid product with good potential, but they pivoted time and again, constantly changing focus and target. Their business model never made sense, and then reacted wayyy too slowly to market trends. Microsoft needs to look in the mirror and realize that this failure is on them.

19. mcoomes

Posts: 56; Member since: Aug 12, 2014

At one point MS was offering the public the rather laughable Kin One and Two. They were horribly designed and overpriced. When you are a company as high profile as Microsoft is, you can't expect to roll out garbage like that and be successful, even if you later design something better. The company is still doing well, but man, what a dog of a mobile division when it came to hardware. Amazon, ditto, with the Fire phone. At least in Sammy's case, they had a solid rep prior to the Note 7 fiasco and were able to recover. And then there was the "app gap", but I tend to remain convinced that apps would have been quick to come of hardware had been flying off the shelves.

20. Luuthian

Posts: 332; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

There’s no one thing that killed the devices. *MANY* things killed it, from the app gap to the lack of good non-nokia hardware, to the lack of support from developers, hardware manufactuers, cellphone providers, etc. Windows Phone had too many battles to fight and it was constantly spread too thin. It paid the price for its lack of focus early on.

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