Let's Not Count Microsoft's Windows Phone Chickens Before They've Hatched

Apple is cool. So is Android. Windows never will be.

There’s a song called “Pass the Dutchie” from the early 80’s by a band long gone called the Musical Youth that starts “this generation rules the nation.” It’s not that great a song, but I heard it today while driving home and for some reason I started thinking about how “This Generation” of youths has ruled the mobile phone nation.

Apple’s rise from the ashes to the highest market cap company of all time was largely due to the iPhone, and Google’s mobile play, of course, has been as successful as Android has been popular.

I’ve been reading the trade rags and have seen all the hype around Windows Phone 8 and how its going to take the industry by storm and challenge both iPhone and Android, and to that I take another line from the song, which goes “how does it feel when you got no food?” - food, in this case, meaning subscribers or appeal.

I understand the thought process around why people think Windows Phone 8 will be a challenger. All of the mobile operators want a strong third option so Apple and Google don’t rule the entire mobile ecosystem, and with BlackBerry’s fall from grace it makes sense that Microsoft will have their shot. Don’t get me wrong; from what I’ve read, Windows Phone 8 will be a good OS. I’ve played with Phone 7 devices as well and the OS is head and shoulders above the old Windows Mobile that I had running on my old Treo (by the way, who thought it made sense to put a “Start” button on a mobile device???).

The problem, as I see it, is demand and appeal. The generation that now rules the nation wants the cool factor. Apple is cool to most, while those edgy people who like to buck the trend will use Android. As everyone but Microsoft knows, Windows is not cool and hasn’t been for maybe 20 years. The only people who thought Windows was ever cool are middle-aged guys like me, but we had to live through Vista, 95, Windows ME and the rest, and many of us got sick of blue screens, long reboot cycles, software crashes and all the other things we now joke about when it comes to Windows. Heck, Google isn’t even that cool to the younger generation, which might be why the company chose to push Android and not the brand Google. The Droid ads are edgy and appeal to a certain demographic.

For the younger markets, Windows Phone does have Xbox compatibility built into it, but gamers aren’t a good segment to go after for mobile phones. Remember the Nokia N-Gage? They tried and failed. The new Sony PlayStation phone isn’t knocking the cover off the ball either. If I were Microsoft I would have created a more appealing sub brand just for mobile (similar to Xbox). What kills Androids? Blade Runner? That might have had more appeal, although younger people might not understand the reference.

I know all the Microsoft apologists who read this are going to roast me here, but the fact remains Windows is a brand that’s well past it’s prime, and if Microsoft wants to actually make a dent, it needs to be willing to ditch the Windows brand and come up with something revolutionary, like Apple did years ago.

So before the industry gets all excited about Windows Phone 8, let’s remember that this generation does indeed rule this nation.

“Give me music, make me jump and prance.”

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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