Microsoft on Windows Phone: The Most Important Thing is to Capture Hearts and Minds

Microsoft Does Not Plan to Aim “Enterprise” Users with Windows Phone

by Anton Shilov
09/22/2011 | 03:01 PM

Microsoft Corp. will not try to tailor its Windows Phone operating system (OS) specifically for enterprise users in a bid to make it more popular. Instead, the company will try to make its mobile platform and devices on its base more appealing to people in general. After the devices become popular on the market, enterprise users will gradually pick them up.


“The most important thing is to capture the hearts and minds of people. People work, people have personal lives, but people – and if we can all remember back long enough, the BlackBerry actually did not come in as a ‘enterprise’ solution. BlackBerry came in as something that individuals wanted and that corporations could support,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft, at the annual Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting.

The approach of Microsoft is nothing new. Apple released its iPhone as a universal device to consume content that it sells via iTunes and targeting just consumers. Several years later, the majority of Fortune 100 companies either use the iPhone or test drive it. In the meantime, market share of RIM’s Blackberry is decreasing, albeit the devices appeal to both consumers and enterprise users.

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“What we are trying to do is make sure we capture some imagination with people. I won't call them consumer people or enterprise people. [With Windows Phone 7] we still had some things we needed to do on our security and management story, our 7.5 release is much stronger. We'll continue to drive that very hard. There certainly is a market opportunity, if you will, that presents itself, but all good market opportunities have to start with some enthusiasm by people as people,” added Mr. Ballmer.

Although Nokia Corp.’s Symbian has been the most widely spread mobile platform for many years, Apple managed to spur a great enthusiasm towards iPhone among its loyal customers and eventually independent software vendors. Based on comments by Mr. Ballmer, Microsoft hopes to copy Apple’s approach and target consumers first and only then add functionality that makes life easier for people as professionals.

The natural problem for Microsoft is that it does not have customers that are as loyal and enthusiastic as customers of Apple and Nokia. What Microsoft has are hundreds of thousands of developers that are ready to design Windows-compatible software. What Microsoft needs to do is to make them design programs for Windows Phone as well. Partly, similarities between Windows 8 and Windows Phone help that. The problem is that the world’s largest software company has to make the WP platform popular among end-users, something that the company has failed to do so far.

But while Microsoft seems to be bullish and even overoptimistic about market potential of Windows Phone, it seems that at present it is not really popular. Based on recent findings from Gartner market research firm, the share of Microsoft Windows Phone- and Windows Mobile-based smartphones decreased to 1.6% in Q2 2011, down from 4.9% a year before. In fact, WP and WM handsets are currently behind Samsung's proprietary Bada (1.9%), RIM's Blackberry (11.7%) and Apple's iOS (18.2%) despite of the fact that they are available from numerous vendors.