Windows Phone: More High-End Devices Coming Soon - InformationWeek

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Windows Phone: More High-End Devices Coming Soon

As Windows Phone loses market share, Microsoft exec says HTC One (M8) and other new flagship devices could bolster demand.

Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You
Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You
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Times are tough for Windows Phone -- so tough that more than a few commentators have already suggested Microsoft should just throw in the towel. But with renewed support from hardware partners, Microsoft leaders still believe Windows Phone can succeed, especially as new devices fill out the lineup.

Since last spring, Microsoft execs have framed their Windows Phone strategy around low-cost devices for emerging markets. This month, however, HTC released a Windows Phone 8.1 version of its One (M8) flagship, which was previously an Android exclusive. Microsoft, currently reorganizing what's left of its Nokia acquisition, is expected to release mid- to high-end Lumia devices in coming weeks.

[Is Amazon's first smartphone a flop? Read Amazon Fire Phone Slow To Ignite.]

If Windows Phone is to grow in emerging markets it needs these higher-end models to set the tone, Windows Phone director Greg Sullivan told InformationWeek in an interview. "Flagship devices help define a platform, create awareness and desire," he said, adding that in markets where Microsoft advertises high-end devices on television, sales of lower-end devices tend to spike.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, these spikes haven't yet added up to much. Earlier this year, Microsoft leaders touted Windows Phone's growth in emerging markets, pointing out that its platform's share even surpassed iPhones' share in certain regions. But according to research firm IDC, this momentum stalled in the most recent quarter; Windows Phone OEMs shipped fewer devices than they had in the year-ago period, and the mobile OS's market share fell to only 2.5%, down almost a full percentage point from the quarter before.

Given this dismal outlook, it makes sense that Microsoft is focused on emerging markets. "We want to go where the growth is," said Sullivan.

To make headway, the company has attempted to re-energize its hardware partners, most of which had left Windows Phone for dead at this point last year. Microsoft established a service portal to help regional OEMs support Windows Phone, for instance. The company also relaxed the OS's hardware requirements and did more to push the company's vision through software, Sullivan said.

He pointed out that previously Windows Phones had to have physical keys, but everything can now be done

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
8/28/2014 | 5:05:56 PM
Windows phone.
I don't have a taste for Windown Phone. I regret my purchase of a Window phone that i had to sale first-hand. Not only do I find it inconvenient but also unnecessarily complicated for a phone. That being said, I wouldn't be interested in what are the innovations being introduced in this regard.
User Rank: Apprentice
8/28/2014 | 5:00:19 PM
Windows phone as data port for Surface Pro 3?
Q: Can a cell phone with a windows operating system be used as a data port? I'd like to use with a Surface Pro 3? Thanks for any kind of suggestions :)
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2014 | 11:50:25 AM
Solid, indestructible and, best of all, cheap
I bought my son a Nokia Windows-based smartphone on a pay-per-month (AT&T) plan and couldn't be happier. It was only $49, the service is $25 per month and my son says the Nokia device is "indestructible." He has dropped it several times (even without the cover), and unlike the two Apple iTouches we've owned that have suffered cracked screens, this thing takes a licking. I hope Microsoft keeps those phones alive, if only to keep things competitive and costs down.
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
8/25/2014 | 1:23:52 PM
Re: High end?
I don't think the typical Jane or Joe Consumer has much opinion on Microsoft vs. Google vs. Apple. That's inside baseball, as they say. They care about apps, camera, cost, and what their friends are carrying.

If Microsoft were smart, it would make a phone optimized for college students then push it hard to students seen as 'influencers,' or whatever the current term is, even subsidizing data plans if needed for top trendsetters. Keds sneakers did it, certain beer brands do it. Not hard to see a phone following suit.
User Rank: Ninja
8/25/2014 | 7:29:43 AM
High end?
Microsoft has already had, and has, high end phones from Nokia. We've read good things about the hardware. The cameras are good. But it seems as though few people care. The problem is that people just don't like Win Phone. It's not whether it's equal to Android or iOS. It's simply whether people like it. It could be the most sophisticated OS in the world, but if people look at it and think that it's harder to use, or they don't like the way it looks, or whatever, they won't buy it. More high end phones won't fix that. WebOS had the same problem. People would pick it up, play with it for a few seconds, and put it down again. I've seen people do that with Win Phone as well. They aren't interested in spending time to figure out how to use it, and the truth is that it's not as obvious as Android or iOS. It's also from Microsoft, and I believe that people are tired of Microsoft. They feel they still need to use Windows, but they don't want to use it for mobile as well. This is a mountain Microsoft has to climb over. In addition, it occurs to me that there are still a number of Nokia loyalists around who are buying these phones. They care less about the OS than the name on the phone. But now that Microsoft owns this, they are slipping away. I had mentioned this before Microsoft completed the purchase. I believe it's still true.
User Rank: Ninja
8/25/2014 | 6:46:42 AM
Re: Windows Phone 8.1
I feel like I've been reading about how Microsoft is getting ready to make another run at the phone market for the last (1, 2, 3?) years and nothing ever comes of it.  I have not seen Windows Phone 8.1 but I can't imagine a MS mobile platform that would get me to leave Android.
Michael Endler
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/23/2014 | 3:48:13 PM
Windows Phone 8.1
Have any readers been using Windows Phone 8.1?

I've had the chance to use the HTC One (M8) with Windows Phone 8.1 for the last few days, and though I'm still forming opinions, I think the OS is much improved, and that HTC's hardware is pretty nice, but not as ergonomically pleasing as an iPhone. I'm curious to see what future high-end Lumias will look like, now that Microsoft is running the show.
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