Why Microsoft’s Low-End First Strategy Could Just Be Right For Windows PhoneJanuary 21, 2015
Few days back I came across an article on Softpedia which said how important it is for Microsoft to launch a new flagship. There was a similar article on Pocketnow. Both the sites have tried to show the importance of flagship-first. I had similar conversations with my friends too and I was on the opposite side. I supported Microsoft’s current strategy of focusing on the low-end. So, I decided to tell y’ll why it is just the right strategy. Well, these are just my opinions.
Low-end phones are super hit:
Since its inception, yeah right from day 1 of Windows Phone 7, flagship phones couldn’t show their charm. HTC had a wide portfolio among all the OEMs committed to the platform. Yet, they could hardly gain any traction. Later Nokia joined the team abandoning its burning platform (burrn). Lumia 710, 800 and Lumia 800 and a total badass (back then) Lumia 900 were in its team. But does anybody remember these phones selling in huge numbers? Nokia barely had passable sales numbers.
Situation improved as soon as Nokia launched Lumia 610 and even cheaper Lumia 510. Of all Lumias, Lumia 510 had better traction in the market because of its price and people actually bought it because of smoother performance in the segment compared to droids. That continued with the Windows Phone 8 running Lumia 520 and its variant Lumia 521 (on T-Mobile). Can you imagine how many of those cheap phones were activated? Freaking 12 million. Cheapest phone in the fleet which lacked many features sold in so huge numbers that it became the most selling Lumia phone ever. Lumia 5xx range have been specifically lucky for Nokia. Lumia 520 still continues to sell and recently it’s been selling for around $30 in Microsoft Store and few days back Amazon sold it for $19. Unimaginable.
Flagships haven’t been able to show their magic:
Now, compare any Windows Phone 8 flagship. Or for that matter take even mid-range Lumia phones. Initially, Lumia 920 showed positive momentum but its pace slowed down. That happened with Lumia 820 too. Next high-end Lumias failed to make an impact outside geeks’ circles. Even with strong cameras, they failed. What could be a better example than Lumia 1020? And Lumia 930 took so long to arrive in the markets that by the time it arrived everyone had forgotten it. So it was inevitable for the new owner of the Lumia brand to re-consider its flagship strategy.
There are numbers to back their ‘low end phones’ strategy. Numbers come straight from the Microsoft so there should be no suspicion about them. Low memory Windows Phone handsets topped the app downloads in the app store, surpassing the high-end handsets. Precisely, of all the app downloads 71% of them were downloaded on low-end handsets while just 29% high-end phones showed up in the store. Once again, Lumia 520 proudly takes the lion’s share in the whole scene. So, now you know where its market is. Devs would absolutely need to rush to low-end phones. High-end phones haven’t been able to increase the market share of WP and that has been the primary concern for developers who are reluctant to commit to the platform. Low-end is doing its jobs of increasing the share. It doesn’t need heavy promotion like flagships. Peer-to-peer publicity and cheap rates and discounts do everything which marketing can’t. And once Microsoft has double digit market share, things will automatically start to improve. This will let them focus on their flagship, albeit in the labs.
Windows 10 will boost the ecosystem:
But does that mean flagships are the things of the past? Definitely they ain’t. It’s just that Microsoft isn’t hurrying to release it. Remember, as a hardware maker Microsoft will be launching a flagship smartphone for the first time so they will have to do it with precision. Recently launched Lumia 535 is just one of the many building blocks for the company. It will need to carefully design the flagship and launch it at ‘appropriate’ time instead of following release cycle.
Windows 10 isn’t far away, it’s not around the corner either. Releasing a flagship now means it’ll come with WP8 and will need to be updated later. And Windows 10 will obviously need its own flagship. Two flagships in one gadget year? That doesn’t make sense. Those with eagle eyes must have noted by now that Microsoft has slowed down the WP8 development. It’s putting all its resources behind W10. W10 holds the future for Microsoft as it’ll run across the devices. Not just that, it’s carrier partners are showing trust in the platform once again. Sprint launched Lumia 635 on all its brands, Verizon is updating all its WP8 handsets which was completely unexpected. Sprint has also added Lumia 635 to its portfolio. That’s not all, Microsoft’s PC partners are also showing confidence in the upcoming in OS.
This means Microsoft is readying the market for its flagship because if it launches new flagship now odds are that it’ll fail just as its predecessors and Microsoft’s mobile platform surely can’t take another hit at the high-end. In just next few hours, Microsoft will be showing new features of Windows 10 and hopefully we will get to see Windows 10 for smartphones and tablets. I hope it will pack all the boost.