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Technology Stocks : Microsoft: The Devices and Consumer Segment
MSFT 454.06+0.1%3:59 PM EDT

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To: Eric L who wrote (142)7/15/2015 11:05:57 AM
From: Eric L  Read Replies (2) of 154
John C. Dvorak on the future of Windowa Phone ...

>> Windows Phone Has a Future (Maybe)

All it takes for some success is for Microsoft to do one little, itsy-bitsy thing: talk about the stupid Windows Phone.

John C. Dvorak
July 15, 2015

There have been many articles lately bemoaning the flop known as Windows Phone. But I've been keeping up with the latest builds, either by visiting a Microsoft Store or borrowing a friend's device, and Windows Phone is not half bad anymore.

In fact, it's as competitive as anything out there, and Cortana seems better than Siri.

What's bad is the half-hearted sales and marketing efforts. If the Windows phone is dead, it is because Microsoft has sunk billions into the technology but virtually nothing into actually selling the device.

I've observed this lackluster effort over the past few years. It's also reflected in the media. Take, for example this Computerworld piece titled "Microsoft gives Windows phones one last shot. "The negative headline makes the whole phone strategy sound like a hopeless rescue mission.

In the piece, which emphasizes the failure of the Nokia acquisition and the $7.6 billion dollar write-off, there is this commentary, which struck a nerve: "Microsoft's smartphones will follow the trailblazing of the more successful Surface tablet line, which after two years with little return hit its stride in 2014 with the debut of the Surface Pro 3."

More successful? Hit its stride? That got my attention. Why would the Surface Pro be any more successful than Windows Phone? The phone is the basis for the whole Metro OS, from Windows 8 to the present. The focus for the latest version of Window is almost entirely the phone, yet it almost universally declared a pre-destined flop.

It looks more and more to me like the Windows Vista of smartphones: misunderstood and poorly marketed.

There was a Vista TV ad that came along after Vista failed to catch fire in the marketplace called The Mojave Experiment. A bunch of people were taken to a faux focus group and shown the OS of the future. The features were emphasized, the ease of use promoted. The pretty appearance was factored in. Everyone in the focus group said the future looked rosy and they would definitely buy this futuristic OS. Then it was revealed to be Vista. Everyone gasped.

The ad told me one thing: Microsoft botched the Vista marketing. The company realized that this ad was not showing the marketing in a good light. It was quickly taken out of circulation.

So what is the difference between the Surface and the Phone? Advertising.

When Windows Phone first came out, there were a few ads that were humorous but actually showed the phone in a bad light by emphasizing that other phones currently had people's attention, while the Microsoft phone was "efficient." The subtext was that the phone was boring.

Meanwhile, the folks who advertise the Surface were showing off its unique features in a jazzy eye-catching manner. Can you name one unique feature ever presented regarding the Windows phone? Nope. In fact, Microsoft seems to have killed advertising for the phone while staying the course with the Surface tablet/laptop.

There has been almost no effort to make this phone a success.

Windows Phone is never included in the discussion about phones. Listen to podcasts, read blogs. Who uses any Windows Phone as a point of comparison? It never happens. It's as if the Windows Phone does not exist.

I, for example, have never received a press release or a briefing or even a note announcing a new feature for the device. I've been in the scene writing about this stuff for 30 years. I don't solicit press material, but it is very noticeable when there is none whatsoever. They are not even trying or care to do much of anything. I've never seen anything like it. No ads, no promotions, no nothing. And yet Redmond wonders why there is no traction.

It's obvious. Someone threw in the towel after the first round

When someone suggests the company is being smart by cutting its losses and folding its tent I ask, "when did the company ever try to market the phone in the first place?" There has never been any effort except for the early ads and they were counter-productive. When the entire enterprise boils down to a $7.6 billion write-off, you have to wonder what it's doing.

There is upside potential, Microsoft. Just do something! # # #

- Eric L. -
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