Windows Phone 2014 Retrospective
A tough transition year
2014 was a tough year for Microsoft and all Windows Phone fans around the world. It was a year without market growth or exciting smartphones, but a year with a couple of important updates and OS improvements. We lost Nokia as Microsoft officially phased out the Nokia Lumia brand in favor of its own Microsoft Lumia. Many new manufacturers joined the Windows boat and we saw plenty of low-cost smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, none of the new OEM made an impression (except BLU) and the impact of eliminating the Windows license fees was not as expected. Below, we will discuss in more details what happened in the Windows (Phone) camp in 2014.
Good Bye Nokia
Nokia Lumia doesn’t exist anymore… unless you keep your old smartphone forever. The Microsoft/Nokia deal, announced in 2013, was formally closed in April 2014 and both companies agreed to start a slow transition of the Nokia brand to Microsoft’s own brand – a process expected to finish around the end of 2014. Now, with New Year Eve approaching, it looks like the task has been successfully completed. The first Microsoft Lumia smartphone (Lumia 535) is on the market, while Nokia Lumia webpages redirect to Microsoft servers. From now on, all Windows Phones made by Microsoft will carry the Microsoft logo at the top and we are curious to learn in what direction the former smartphone department of Nokia will be moving in 2015.
Microsoft announced a new CEO, Satya Nadella, who replaced Steve Ballmer. Nadella said: “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.” The effect of this change is yet to be seen, but the new One Windows approach is bold and ambitions.
Microsoft attracted many small manufacturers to produce Windows smartphones and small tablets. The results of eliminating the Windows license fees for small devices and expanded hardware support is visible in the low-end segment where we have a variety of cheap phones with Snapdragon 200 processors and dual SIM support.
Where are the flagship phones?
Unfortunately, there was only one premium smartphone released in 2014 if not counting the Lumia 930 which is in fact a rebranded version of Verizon’s Lumia Icon from late 2013. HTC One M8 for Windows is arguably the best new Windows Phone in 2014 though it is far from perfect because of its UltraPixel camera and a limited availability. Microsoft is not expected to release flagship devices before March/April 2015, so until then we have very few “premium” Lumia options – Nokia Lumia 930 or 830.
Microsoft released a couple of big updates in 2014 and now more than 57% of all active smartphones are running Windows Phone 8.1, while the shares of WP8.0 and 7.x are slowly decreasing. The latest version of Windows Phone is quite different than the version in early 2013 and that is a good thing. In addition to visual changes, Microsoft introduced many warm-welcomed features like Cortana assistant, Live folders, and more. Now all eyes are on the January event where we should learn more about Windows (Mobile) 10.