Talking tech since 2003

Today, Microsoft announced their latest attempt in the smartphone arena.  The introduction of Windows Phone 7.  It’s quite clear that Microsoft put a lot of work into WinPho 7.  Judging by what I have seen so far, the interface looks well designed and the support Microsoft Office and .NET applications is a definite plus (especially for enterprise).

Microsoft also partnered with several manufacturers for Windows Phone 7 including, HTC, Samsung, Dell, and LG.  The phones will be available through AT&T and T-Mobile starting November 8th in the US.  While some may argue that partnering with several manufacturers may spread the line too thin, it’s good to see that so many companies are standing behind the platform.

In terms of pricing, AT&T’s three phones (the Samsung Focus, LG Quantum, and HTC Surround) are competitively priced at $199 with a two year contract.  Fairly standard pricing for a smartphone these days.  T-Mobile has yet to announce pricing for the HTC HD7 or Dell Venue Pro which they will be carrying.

But who exactly is Microsoft looking to target with these phones?  I’m not too sure.  It seems they want regular consumers to purchase them but at the same time are also going after the enterprise with their Office / Sharepoint integration.  Over the past few years, many analysts have been claiming that Microsoft is moving more towards enterprise and business rather than consumers.  Which does make sense – that’s where a majority of their revenue comes from.

WinPho 7 has potential, but it will be really tough getting the product in the hands of customers.  When Apple announced the iPhone back in 2007 they completely changed and super charged the smartphone market.  In the past, Microsoft really only had to worry about RIM; now, they are competing with Apple, Google (Android), and RIM (Blackberry) in a very hot market.

Microsoft will need to look long-term with WinPho 7.  If they kill this product as quickly as they did with KIN, it will be a mistake.  I personally don’t expect WinPho 7 to see serious growth until a year or two from now.  This is in large part due to carrier contracts.  Both consumers and businesses will be waiting for their contracts to expire before possibly choosing Windows Phone 7.

I definitely see IT departments considering WinPho 7 as a viable option to offer to employees over a Blackberry or iPhone, but that won’t happen until the contracts for their current phones expire.  The real question is does this phone appeal to consumers?  I have to say, it looks like a great phone in several aspects, but is it enough to make me want to switch away from my iPhone 4 or Droid 2?  At the moment, no.  Microsoft is going to have to really sell me on this phone as a worthy competitor.

There are a few ways Microsoft could show me they are serious about WinPho 7.  The first would be by making sure they are constantly developing the operating system and adding new features (staying with the trends in mobile).  I would also love to see updates be made more uniform (similar to iOS as opposed to the way Google does it with Android).  I also want to see a promising App Store with a wide selection of good apps.  The Android market place is great, but it also has a lot of crap in it.  Something more like Apple’s App Store would be welcomed.  Additionally, I want to see that WinPho 7’s browser (which is based off IE) is comparable to that of Safari on the iPhone and/or the Browser on Android.

What do you think of Windows Phone 7?  Will you be buying one?

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