Two big events happened in 2011 for Windows Phone. First, Nokia announced it was abandoning Symbian and switching to Windows Phone, and it released a few devices late in the year with more planned in 2012. Second, Microsoft shipped the Mango update to just about every user. Both events generated a lot of news, but sales have yet to move upward. Will 2012 be a better year for the platform?
Microsoft is already planning two major updates in 2012, code named Tango and Apollo. WMPoweruser has obtained a few slides showing the roadmap for WP7. Both Tango and Apollo are targeted for the fourth quarter. It looks like it will be a bit of a fork in the platform.
Tango looks like it will be targeted for low-end devices in order to compete on price. These will be the phones you get for $50 or less, even for free, when you sign a two-year contract in the U.S. This has been a key area in which Android has dominated. Brand new devices like the T-Mobile LG DoublePlay or the Verizon LG Enlighten have come out of the gate as free devices, helping fuel Android's increase in market share. Even Apple has gotten into the game by continuing to sell the 3GS for $0.99 on AT&T's network.
Apollo is for higher end phones. Microsoft expects it will increase sales and cater more to businesses. It should also allow for "competitive superphones," which presumably means dual-core processors and LTE radios.
The Windows Phone Marketplace has also surpassed 50,000 apps. While still significantly behind Android and iOS in the app count, it is growing at a respectable rate. It took just over a year to get to 40,000 apps, but the next 10,000 came in just 90 days.
It still lacks in content though. All too often, when sites post articles on apps, Windows Phone is left out. LifeHacker has a weekly "Most Popular Downloads" post. When looking at the last three weeks, there are seven apps listed for Android, six for iOS and even one for Blackberry. Windows Phone was nowhere to be found. Users read these kinds of articles and when seeing Android and iOS mentioned so often, it impacts buying decisions. People don't put a lot of consideration into what comes with the phone. Email, SMS, Web browsing, voice calls, etc. are just table stakes. What really matters is what is the phone capable of when downloading a few apps.
Nokia and Mango should both boost sales, and we will know when Q4 2011 numbers start coming in how much they move the needle. They will have to, because future updates are about a year away.