Windows Phone: What it Needs to Succeed
We Need More Than Solid Design and an Elegant OS.
In my honest opinion, I believe the Lumia line to date is just to get people aware of Windows Phone. I believe that with just the phones we have today, Microsft will never reach above 5% marketshare. If we are just talking about the phones available today, as well as just WP7.5, it shouldn't reach above 5%. As the platform stands, it is a wonderful OS, has beautiful design, but is held back by fear of what the future may become for phones. People want higher DPI, and they want more cores. LTE was a huge leep forward, but it is not widely available as of today.
Microsoft needs to think outside of Windows Phone.
As it is today, most iOS and Android apps look relatively the same. I love WP7 apps look, but if we have to wait for a WP7 look and feel update, and get the app first, I would rather that. Most apps for iOS and Android are released near the same time. As WP7 users, we have to wait months (or never even get the app). Both iOS and Android apps get promoted on TV, Radio, and Newspapers. "Download our App on your iPhone, iPad, or Android Device!" I have never heard anyone mention Windows Phone when mentioning their apps. This is a huge blow to Windows Phone. Windows Phone needs to look beyond the fact that they have a new, elegant, and refreshing OS that doesn't need as much horsepower. People want Apps, HD screens, and more cores. They don't know what cores are, but they want more. The more the better. This mindset is wrong, but you can't fight it. Not this late in the game.
When we reach Apollo Windows Phone will be 2yrs Old.
A two year old platform needs the most popular apps. I don't know if Microsoft is having developers work on apps for an after Apollo release, but they seem to either be waiting or just not coming. We have no official apps from google, pandora, instagram, mint, decent facebook app, flipboard, linkedin, Onlive, dropbox, HBO Go, and tweetdeck. Apollo also has a lot to live up to. Talk to a lot of WP7 users and they will tell you (me being included), "Just wait for Apollo." If Apollo does not deliver some key features, it will kill Microsoft's chance of becoming #1 or even #2. If Apollo turns out to be another Mango, Windows Phone will stay at 5% or less. Mango brought key features to the OS, but they were mainly features the other guys already had and didn't make the OS anymore appealing for devs.
What does Apollo Need to be.
So, I hope I have made it clear that Apollo has a lot to live up to. Without this update, Windows Phone is stuck in far last. So, what do we need. What features need to be added. Here are a few.
Deeper Windows Integration
Windows as an experience needs to be more relevant throughout the OS. More of the user experience should be able to be synced from phone, tablet, laptop, xbox, and PC. Skydrive pictures should show up in my pictures, my tile theme should match my color theme on Windows 8, and I should be able to do some type of airplay on all my Windows machines. More multiplatform gaming. Games that can be started on a phone, picked up from on a tablet, and finished on a Xbox. Bring the phone to the experience. Make the phone more than a remote, make it a key part in some games. Star Wars for kinect would be great if my phone could be used as a lightsaber, and it would help with tracking my movements.
Deeper Social Integration
Make Twitter, Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, and any other social network integrated in every aspect of the OS. Fix the notifications on the Me tile. It sometimes will tell me about old notifications or won't get new ones. It should be a pleasant and seemless experience that feels natural.
If this aspect never get dealt with, the OS will never take off. Essential apps need to be there, and they need to be there fast. Windows Phone users should not have to wait weeks for release, or even longer for updates. Microsoft has worked hard to rake in new developers, and that will pay off...BUT, it will only pay off if they get the popular apps and keep this OS alive. You can't sell someone the idea of a Windows Phone if you can't talk up the app market or...
Future Proof Specs
People will either buy an iPhone or an Android device if you don't have apps or specs. HD screens, multiple core processors, and multicore GPUs are becoming the norm for phones these days. If people go into a store and compare the Lumia 900 screen to the HTC One X or the iPhone 4s, they are not going to choose the Lumia. Specs do matter in this day and age. Sales reps will try and talk you out of a Windows Phone, and can do it fast by just telling people about the specs of other phones. Like I said above, Microsoft needs to think outside of Windows Phone. It is wonderful that WP7 can run so well on these specs, but people want more power.
Improved Multitasking & Notifications
One of users biggest gripes about WP7, is the lack of useful multitasking. Multitasking works differently for every app, it isn't done in the most intuitive way, and it isn't really even neccassary with the way the OS is designed now. Sometimes it actually feels like it takes more time to hold the back button and swipe to the other apps you have open, then just hitting the Windows key and finding your app in on the homescreen. Notifications are also a big problem in WP7. Live tiles are wonderful, and they work as good notifiers. But, there is no way to look at past notifications for nonsocial notifications, some apps notifications can not be found within the app, and it seems like something is missing.
With all of that said, I will say that I have a WP7 device that I sold my iPhone 4 for. There are very few apps I miss and I don't find it to be less functional. There are tiny gripes here and there, but I love the WP7 experience. It is a joy to use. I am not the average user though, and there are quotas that have to get met in the eye of the public. Without meeting those, Microsoft is going to stay below 5% marketshare. I will stick with Windows Phones, and I will be getting an Apollo device, but the OS needs to be taken to the next level. I think Microsoft will do it, and I think I understand what they are doing. I just hope in the end I will be happy and satisfied come the end of this year. I have been telling people that 2012 is Microsoft's year...I hope they don't let me down.
TL;DR: Microsoft needs to bring popular apps, improved notifications and multitasking, higher specs, and more integration from social and Microsoft services. If not they will remain in last place.