Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Microsoft lost me to the Android

As a Verizon Wireless customer I've been waiting (not so patiently) for the Windows Phone 7 to come out for the Verizon network.  Various release dates have been bandied about since they announced WP7 almost a year and a half ago.  I've been suffering along the last couple of years with one of the old Windows Mobile phones with the 6.x release of Windows CE/Windows Mobile on it.  It crashed several times a day, and despite a "lipstick on a pig" makeover of the UI by HTC the phone sucked.  I told it so every day I owned it.

Well last weekend the phone must have had enough because it jumped ship. I lost it somewhere in Washington DC on the Mall, and frankly didn't look very hard to find it.  Sent it a remote wipe signal and promptly abandoned it.  So now it was time for a new phone - I can't live without one.  And it has to be a smartphone.  And I use data ALL the time so it needs to be able to be used as a hotspot/tethered.  And it would be GREAT if it was 4g for speed.  This left one phone - the Thunderbolt - a sweet piece of hardware from HTC again, but this time the lipstick is on a sexy babe instead of on a pig.

So I bought the Thunderbolt, and burned an upgrade.  I promptly went out and bought all the accessories that we know we'll need (extended battery, second battery, protective case, holster, extra charger, etc).  None of these presumably will fit any future Windows Phone 7 phones so they are an additional sunk cost.  I now have 2 years to consider whether I even want the WP7 phone or not.
So how does this apply to entprepreneurs?  Well this is an entrepreneur blog so there had to be a point.  :) 

Microsoft has repeatedly bungled the marketing and sales of mobile devices.  They clung to the aging and impotent Windows Mobile/CE platform long after someone should have stuck a cross in it's grave.  They marketed a crippled version of the WP7 phone (the Kin) and then promptly proceeded to create the creepiest ad campaign ever that basically featured one teenager stalking another teenager.  They release WP7 on the same network that Apple already dominated in (as if they were expecting people to flock to a v1.0 Microsoft anything over a version 4.0 Apple piece of artwork).  And when they do release it the best testimonial they can come up with was "I edited a powerpoint in bed"....  I hope it was a porn powerpoint because that's all that particular user will be "getting" tonight.  They fumblingly semi-announce they're no longer making new Zune hardware effectively killing the non-phone version of the product that has been so successful for Apple.  They announce that the OS/Development platform that WP7 is based on will be going away, disincentivizing developers to build the critical applications required for platform success in Silverlight.

As a company Apple has regained the entrepreneurial spirit - and Microsoft has repeatedly demonstrated that they've lost it.  As an entrepreneur we want to be first to market, best to market and have a serious reputation for providing quality products quickly and within the proper marketing timeframe.  In the past couple of years Microsoft has repeatedly lost to Apple in this contest.  They need to start winning and so do you if you're not beating your competition to market with these capabilities.  What are you doing to be first to market, and to build products that are unique and powerful?