With iOS and Android, two major mobile operating systems taking up a valuable share of the market and becoming increasingly popular, it may be easy to disregard the new kid in town, Windows Phone 7.
Windows Phone 7 is practically a total rebranding of what used to be Windows Mobile. A system that served us well early on, but began to show its age as newer mobile operating systems started taking the spotlight. Eventually, the stylus began to be phased out, making ways for screens that used our fingers for input. Many of the applications for the older Windows Mobile OS were designed with a stylus in mind, and quickly became frustrating for users.
There were some problems. It tried to capture the look and feel of the desktop version of Windows, and perhaps that wasn’t the best route in the end. Even Steve Ballmer himself was once quoted as saying that the company “Screwed up with Windows Mobile.”
Still, lessons have been learned, and other mobile OSes have tested the market, and Windows Phone 7 may end up being the product of learning from past mistakes.
Either way, we think Windows Phone 7 is worth keeping an eye on.
1) Xbox Live integration – Gamers who love the Xbox brand will also love the direct integration with LIVE. The games are already looking awesome, and thanks to Microsoft’s strong position in the online gaming space with Xbox LIVE, they already have the strong advantage of a user-base that already enjoys the service. Add in the management capabilities (such as setting up their Avatar and managing their friends).
The ability to jump an from an XBLA (Xbox LIVE Arcade) game on your Xbox to the same game on your phone, when you have to leave the house should be another great feature, as well as the Avatar tools such as flashlights and levels (as in the tool, not the part of a game).
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2) Developers with lots of content! – There are already plenty of Apps confirmed to be coming to the the system. We’ve already seen that many of the essential applications such as Twitter, Netflix, OpenTable, Travelocity and Flixter are on their way. Not to mention, the company announced last month that the platform would bring more than 50 XBLA games to mobile. We don’t have a concrete number, but that already sounds like a strong first few months. The developers are on board.
3) Marketing dollars – Microsoft has the marketing dollars to push this thing out the door and make everyone know it’s coming. How much do reports say they are spending on marketing alone? Analysts estimate that they are spending about $400 million for the product’s launch. If they can make the OS look as great through their commercials as it does in the demonstrations we’ve seen, they have a great shot at becoming one of the big names in the mobile OS market. Of course one may argue that it takes more than a few good ad campaigns to sell a product, it definitely gets them the attention they need from consumers. If they can scream the loudest when you walk into your local Sprint store, they can definitely rack up the customers.
4) Much more useful interface for touch, built for thumbs and fingers. – Let’s face it. A lot of us, especially the guys, have big ol’ fat thumbs. Previous versions of Windows Mobile had many applications that felt as if they were designed for stylus input. Sorry, but our chubby fingers don’t have the precision of a stylus.
This lady doesn’t have fat fingers, but that’s okay
Luckily, this time around, the Tiles make navigating quick and easy. You can place various objects on your homescreen. For example, if you want to add a favorite contact, you can have them within easy reach on a Tile, and the icon is large so that even bigger hands can easily navigate.
5) Availability right out the gate – We already know that carriers in the US already include AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. Meanwhile, HTC, Dell, Asus, HP, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and LG are backing it on the hardware side. This obviously makes it much easier to distribute phones to people on various carriers and users can find a piece of hardware the suits their tastes and needs.
In the end…
it will be a long journey for them to take a top place in the mobile OS world. it will take a serious marketing push. but remember, many of us laughed at the thought that Microsoft could ever build a successful gaming platform. By this holiday season, Windows Phone 7 will be in consumer hands. From there, it’s a push to be regarded at the best.