It's Mistakes Like This that Prevent Windows Phone from Taking off

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By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)

If you have been paying attention, you surely noticed that the smartphone space is completely dominated by two companies, Apple and Google. There are no other serious contenders if we are talking about today’s market share. Except, there is one player breathing down the necks of these two companies. This third player is not catching up on market share yet, but it is getting some seriously optimistic support from the analyst community.

I am of course referring to Microsoft and its “take two” on the mobile market, the Windows Phone platform. As I have said before, Windows Phone has practically all the components needed to become a successful player in this market. A super product, a developer community, global reach, leading manufacturing partners, and more. The only thing, I believe, holding Windows Phone back, is its branding/marketing.

I will name three examples, two of them not new, and one recent event that just made me laugh and ask “Why?”

For starters, the name. One of the most important elements of the success of pretty much any product, is its name. It should be attractive, it should pull people in, it should not scare them. “Windows Phone”? Really? That is the best you could come up with given your astronomical budget, Microsoft?

The second thing that I think Microsoft should have improved before releasing to market, is the name of the software consumers use to sync their Windows Phone devices to a computer. It is called Zune. You know, the name of the Microsoft media player that was cannibalized by its biggest competitor, the iPod by Apple? THAT is what you chose to name the software a Windows Phone user depends on every day? Bad move, Microsoft. Again.

But here is the kicker and I surely hope I am missing something here, but given Microsoft’s recent track record, I am not sure I am.

Microsoft, Nokia, and AT&T are in the midst of their biggest device launch ever. Yes, ever. The Lumia 900, an impressive device by all accounts, is launching as we speak. Nokia and Microsoft took over Times Square for this launch, that is just how big it is. And that is after a few week-long campaign leading up to this launch, called the Smartphone Beta Test. More on that here.

Except, the representatives responsible for this launch in all three companies, should be fired. You know what today is? Easter!

Yes, Nokia, Microsoft, and AT&T spent endless money on their biggest launch ever and they decided to launch the Lumia 900 on a national holiday, when, wait for it, stores are closed!

Not all stores, but many. As the New York Times reports, Melissa Havel, a spokeswoman representing Microsoft, confirmed that only some AT&T stores carrying the Lumia 900 would be open on Sunday. And she said that “many but not all” of Microsoft’s own stores would be closed.

Sorry to say this but you know where this kind of thing would never happen? In Cupertino. New models of the iPhone are typically released on Fridays, giving shoppers a full weekend to line up at an Apple store to buy the phone. The first day of sales is critical in order to measure the public’s excitement and leverage it to continue the traction. For instance, first-weekend sales for the the iPhone 4S last year topped four million, according to Apple.

Well, this decision definitely makes you wonder. Did the person who made this decision simply forget about Easter? Was this intentional? I for one, hope for Nokia and Microsoft’s sake that this campaign, which is off to a shaky start won’t prevent the Lumia 900 from taking off. And if it does, I hope the Lumia 900 is not the “make or break” device for the success of Windows Phone, like many believe it is.

Having said that, if it is the make or break phone, and it fails as a result of this launch, well, Nokia/Microsoft, you kind of deserved it.

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