Will Windows Ever Be Able to Challenge the Android and Apple Duopoly?
Whenever you think of smartphones, your mind is instantly focused on images of Apple’s iPhone and the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy S7. This is despite the efforts that have been made by technology giants Microsoft in recent times, particularly since their acquisition of the Nokia brand back in 2014.
This is reflected by the major market trends, as while global smartphone sales increased by nearly 4% during the recent quarter, Microsoft’s range of Windows handsets failed to capitalise and actually dropped below 1% of the overall market share. Not only this, but the number of Windows phones sold during the last quarter showed a significant decline from Q1 in 2015, as Microsoft struggle to compete with the popularity and functionality of Apple and Android handsets.
The Future for Microsoft and the Windows Phone
The most recent decline in sales and market share has largely been inspired by Microsoft’s lack of new Lumia devices, with various reports suggesting that the brand is considering revolutionising its attempts to conquer the smartphone market. Microsoft themselves even announced that they had formative plans to sell its feature phone business to a Foxconn subsidiary for $350 million, which may also mean that we have potentially seen the last of the colourful and promising range of Lumia devices.
With Microsoft’s smartphone revenues having declined by 46% during the last two years, the brand has clearly decided that a brand-new approach is required to challenge Apple and Android handsets. This decision will also have been impacted by the competitive range of deals available on big-selling phones like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7, with Apple EE contracts such as these offering tremendous value and appeal to users.
We have already seen signs of a changeable approach by Microsoft in other market areas such as the growing 2-in-1 category and the surprising launch of the Surface Studio. All these category-defining products have been exceptionally well-received by customers, and many analysts believe that Microsoft will follow the same route to re-enter the mobile market. There are reports that Microsoft will design a revolutionary, Surface-branded smartphone this year, creating a powerful and sleek competitor for the popular Samsung Galaxy and Sony range of handsets.
Why Microsoft’s New Approach May Yield Results
Microsoft’s burgeoning new strategy certainly holds promise in the current marketplace, backed by OEMs like HP and Alcatel, and a highly-evolved range of Surface devices would create compelling propositions at the entry-level and the premium end of the market respectively. The unique nature of such devices would also present compelling alternatives to Apple and Android phones, something which the bright but limited Lumia models failed to achieve.
This strategy is also preferable to licensing Windows phone technology to other smartphone brands, as the majority prefer to align their handsets with the popular Android platform.
Make no mistake; the Windows platform has a number of advantages that it has failed to capitalise on over time, including the range of professional apps that it offers to users (Apple continues to dominate the market in this respect). The Microsoft brand simply needs to develop a viable range of handsets that they can leverage to fulfil their obvious potential, however, while offering various value propositions to customers throughout the market. This year will therefore represent a seminal 12 months for the brand, as they look to change direction and finally law down the gauntlet to Apple.