Windows Mobile is the Bearded Lady of the Mobile Circus

During the Build conference this year, several news outlets have hammered down on Microsoft to explain their lack of focus on the Windows 10 Mobile platform. It seemed like Microsoft was bent on focusing on their efforts on other platforms like the iPhone, while Windows Phone and Lumia were relegated to a few small demo’s. Microsoft rightfully stated that to them Windows 10 Mobile was not their focus during this year, and that sent several people into a flat spin over Microsoft possibly killing the platform, and some declaring it dead. The media bloodthirsty in their need to sink their teeth into the platform, ready to deal the final blow and declaring themselves the victors over this battle against the platform which lasted almost a decade, becoming more rabid whenever there’s fresh news released about it.

Windows Mobile-Phone-Mobile have been through so many ‘reboots’ that it’s hard to pinpoint when everything went wrong. Microsoft have spent billions on trying to push the platform into the hands of consumers, and consumers led by the media rebelled hard against this push by Microsoft. Nokia, the famous casualty of this relentless drive by Microsoft, now only relegated to pushing out networking technologies, tried and failed too. The Nokia brand, which was once a massive force in the phone/smartphone market went down in flames as it tried to hold on to its dominance. Windows Phone literally destroyed companies, jobs and burned cash like it just won the lottery.

Fast forward to today where Windows Phone manages to hold on to a mere 3% of the market, with a handful of devices out there and partners rightfully skeptical about ‘betting the ship’ on another device running Windows. Even Microsoft cut their losses on the platform and fired 18000 people in the last year as they ‘clean house’. But for some reason the media and the few who do own these devices demand Microsoft to push even harder, as if forcing a horse to drink will make him actually buy that Lumia, when another device is available that can in fact do more, at sometimes a lower price.

Windows Phone 8 Tried to whoo Customers with bright colors.

Microsoft is currently focusing their strengths on the place where they are actually making a big leap, and this is Windows 10 on Desktop, Surface and Microsoft apps on Android and iOS. Windows Phone for all intents and purposes have been shelved as a side project until Microsoft can figure out a way to really get people to use these devices.

Windows 10/Mobile currently has just over 500k apps in the store, compared to platforms like iOS and Android, this platform seems like a side project, or even side show to developers much like a bearded lady at circus events. Nobody is developing for the platform in general and Microsoft is working on changing that before they force another Lumia (or Surface phone like that would help) down anyone’s throat. Microsoft needs to draw developers to a platform which currently already holds nearly 300 Million active installs.

The Universal app platform makes it a no-brainer for developers to build apps and ensure that they will run on any screen size. Microsoft is adding features to entice developers to use Windows instead of any other platform to build apps when they purchased Xamarin, and integrated into their flagship development kit Visual Studio. Microsoft knows that if they don’t get everyone on board, they might as well kill off Windows as a Platform, and in the grand scheme of things if they do that they might as well rename themselves IBM. This all is to build up the base for Windows Mobile for when they re-attempt the attack plan for this platform, but unfortunately like many things it does take time.

Microsoft have stated numerous times that Windows Mobile is a crucial part of their strategy, and constantly harping on comparing the platform to iOS is counterproductive. Yes, several million consumers currently use the platform, and some want more from these devices, but if you actually follow the development of the platform you’ll already notice the differences the current strategy is having on the platform as a whole. Windows Mobile is near constantly updated and, in some cases apps get surprise updates as they start to move to the Universal App Platform. Microsoft is working on the platform, albeit in a more nuanced way.

Looking familiar.

As for Microsoft jumping back in and risking thousands of jobs and billions of dollars again to try and make Lumia ‘cool again’, well that will not happen, until the store is filled with millions of apps that can run on Windows Mobile. If you cannot wait, get an iPhone. Microsoft proved the world wrong with Surface, which after several years of the media and consumers demanding them shelve the product, is now being copied by Apple and makes more money than Twitter and Uber, while growing faster. Unless Windows Phone was a project that their future didn’t depend upon, you would have seen them shut it down in 2008.

Windows Mobile is just a curiosity right now, like a bearded lady. Eventually it will take the main stage, but until then it’s an optional sideshow.

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