You WILL NOT buy Windows Phone 7
Who will line up to get a new Microsoft-powered handset when Windows Phone 7 officially launches on Monday? Betanews readers answered the who will in my previous post. They responded to an earlier question: "Will you buy Windows Phone 7?" About 70 percent of the e-mail respondents will buy. The naysayers, while fewer in number, give some very good reasons why not Windows Phone 7.
I expected more of a fifty-fifty split between the respondents, perhaps with even more Betanews readers saying no to Windows Phone 7. Well, hell, what do I know? To be clear, a few hundred readers, whether responding by e-mail or in comments, is no measure of WP7's sales potential. But both groups' reasons for buying or not are meaningful,
Like the previous post, I here present readers' responding by e-mail, because they are identifiable; many Betanews commenters aren't. I may post again over the weekend from commenters, some of which are sourer on Windows Phone 7 than the e-mailers.
With that introduction, I present the negative responses to the question "Will you buy Windows Phone 7?":
John Will won't buy a Windows Phone 7 handset for two reasons. First: "Unproven functionality," meaning "if it's anything like most Microsoft x.0 releases, it'll take a rev or two to sort out some of the basic issues." Second: U.S. carriers carrying WP7 smartphones. "I'll be looking to Verizon and an Android phone for my first venture into data-enabled smartphones." But he qualifies: "In the future for a next phone purchase, that situation may change, but the question is being asked today."
"I won't be buying Windows Phone 7," says John Obenauer. "Apple and Google have a great rivalry going on in smartphones, and customers of both companies benefit from the competition." He adds:
Apple has more apps, slicker hardware, and easy-to-use software; Google wins on openness of the platform and app market, support for Flash video websites, tight integration with Google services everyone already uses and a choice of phone hardware and carriers. How would Microsoft compete favorably with them? They can't beat Google on openness of the platform or integration with Google services, and they may even be locked down to an unpopular carrier (AT&T). They can't compete with Apple on ease of use and sexy hardware (they've been inferior to Apple in both ways historically). I just don't see legions of iPhone and Android fans being won over by a Windows phone. Apple and Google really innovate, while Microsoft has been playing the me-too company for years now without any compelling improvements. In case you're wondering about my biases, I own a Droid X, an iPad, and several versions of iPhones and iPod Touches.
Paul S. won't buy Windows Phone 7 because there is no Mac support, "which is a huge bummer for someone whose phone contract is up in about a month." Paul S. gave his last name to me but asked that it not be published.
Jack Winters also gave carrier as a major reason for skipping Windows Phone 7: "I'm looking exclusively at Android phones because my carrier is Verizon. I do not and cannot afford to switch back to the inferior network of AT&T." But his reasons go further. While many other e-mail respondents expressed current Microsoft product and platform commitments as reason for choosing WP7, Winters has already moved on:
I use Google Mail, Google Voice, Google Calendar, Google Maps on a daily basis and want to get better integration than what the MS phones provide. I expect the Windows phones to rely on Internet Explorer and Bing. I want a different browser and Google search. I want to be able to use Google Maps and Navigation in an environment that was built for them. I look at Google News, Google Finance, and Google Fast Flip regularly.
Daniel Bunyan is among the naysayers: "I owned an HTC phone with Windows Mobile and it simply did not work." He complained of doing "twice as many clicks to open an email" than on BlackBerry," emphasizing "it just felt like they slapped together a weak interface so they could claim to have functionality and a mobile solution."
Because Bunyan was a Microsoft mobile customer before, I asked in follow-up e-mail: "Microsoft has redesigned the Windows Phone 7 user interface to be more like Zune HD. Would a new UI make a difference, or was your previous disappointing experience too much?" It was "too much hassle last time. Mobile phones are too tightly connected to our daily lives and it is too difficult to move information between devices. So something has to be a game changer to warrant a switch. I am sticking to my BlackBerry; not the sexiest any more but the device simply 'works.'"
Richard Weerts used automobile analogies to explain why "I will not buy it -- would not even consider it." He calls Microsoft "hopeless when it comes to embedded OS software; they just don't know how to do it." He explains:
It's very much like GM and Ford trying to make small, tightly engineered cars. The know how is simply not accessible within their culture. They just can't, proven over and over and over again since the Pinto and Vega borne of the 70's oil crises. I have had an HTC Windows Mobile phone. It was just like the Chevy Vega; unreliable and you can't help but feel that that great new-car feeling will be short-lived with this one.
In a follow-up e-mail, I expressed: "I see your car analogy, but those American automakers made some shrewd investments in foreign car companies. So you think Microsoft simply can't compete in mobile--not in its corporate DNA?" He responded:
Sure, American cars companies made investments in others. But they never brought the know-how home to make a smart, quality, long-lasting small 'Ford' brand car. At least nothing to begin to rival, say, a Honda Civic. And this analogy does seem quite appropriate. A Honda Civic feels like a quick, fast-GUI smart BlackBerry or iPhone and a PC with Windows more like a large SUV with loose parts bolted inside its cavernous interior in any way convenient for the builder with no thought of how it needs to 'fit together' due to the scale -- conceptually applied to software as well as hardware. And, yes, I think it is not in MS's DNA to do embedded OS well -- that they can try really hard but will likely stumble with it.
"Probably not" is Jon Moody's answer to the will buy question. "I already own products that do what I need for music, video, phone, apps, navigation etc. Sooo unless Windows Phone 7 brings something new and compelling to the table (which so far I haven't seen any evidence of) then I don't see myself buying one. Those are the positives." He then offers seven "negatives, four of which I excerpt:
No matter what anyone says, I am not going to be doing office documents on my smartphone. And even if I were going to I already have that capability... and believe me it isn't something that I will ever say I need...As a developer I don't see the money in other words show me how I will make a lot of money and I might embrace it; haven't seen any evidence so far. Also I have attempted to install the SDK a couple of times with no success. For me this does not bode well for the stability of the software...After the Kin disaster why should I believe that Microsoft will not just abandon this platform as well if it doesn't quickly pan out? I realize that isn't Microsoft's normal MO but I have to tell you that disaster really left me with a bad taste in my mouth...I see Apple as the closed proprietary platform that wants to control everything but gives the user a great experience. I see Android as the open platform that can support any hardware (This should be Microsoft's niche at least it was on the PC).
Gabriel Ruiz won't buy a WP7 handset because he owns an iPhone:
However, if I had to chose between an Android Phone and a Windows Phone 7, let's say on a network were the iPhone is not available like Verizon, I would go with Windows Phone 7, because the control over the Interface and software that Microsoft has and Android hasn't. The fact that Android could potentially become just simple 'middleware' creates concerns on the stability, upgradability and security of the product. Windows 7 would be almost like the best of both worlds, a curated environment like the iPhone with the choice of multiple hardware models like Android.
Tom Bridges won't be buying Windows Phone 7, simply because the apps he needs won't immediately be there. He otherwise is a satisfied Microsoft mobile user. Because "I learned that my favorite software would not run on 7 and many of those developers would not be writing totally new programs, I looked elsewhere. I am a Ham Radio operator and a Bible studies author." Apple's iOS and Android "have new programs for these needs with the promise of support and more programs shortly. Thirty-one days ago I picked up my Droid X. Microsoft 7 was too little too late for me even if they had hardware and software by 2011."