Down and Out in Redmond & Helsinki
How excited would people be if the Lumia 920 actually had a launch date right now I wonder.
Its an interesting question and something we will never know. Let me give you abit of background as to why I'm writing this. In January a week after new years my iPhone 3GS was stolen, I wasn't really bothered, its a phone, life goes on. After a few months or so I got a Nokia Lumia 710 for £170 unlocked (after having the Samsung GT1080, the phone thats really taking over the world, forget the iPhone) and hooked it up with a GiffGaff sim, £10 a month with 250mins, unlimited texts & unlimited data. sweet deal. For the past few months I have actually quite enjoyed using it and comparing it to iOS noting how its different, where its better and where its worse. Its made me think a lot more about UI design something which I find quite interesting.
I started following Nokia on its Windows Phone journey as I'm interested in tech and I have a Windows Phone. When Nokia last week announced the 920 I found it pretty impressive as did most, The faked shots fiasco didnt bother me as it was clear that the camera Nokia were bringing to the table was so far ahead of its competitors that it would do as advertised and indeed it does, judging from the hole in the wall test at the event. On top of the other features such as great design, great screen and some great looking software (fingers crossed) it looks like the first smartphone in a while that wasn't an iPhone that really got the attention of consumer tech world. Then they did the typical thing a lot of tech companies do by not releasing a price and date. Well done guys, you made your job a bit harder when you are at the bottom of the ladder fighting your way up.
It seems this is due to Microsoft, I'm pretty sure Nokia would have loved journalists to play with the 920 to their hearts content and go home singing about it (the 920 does seem to need a bit of work still but its pretty much there). Nokia have worked their balls off and come up with some good looking equipment but Microsoft wont let them race yet. (you have to say, making your own OS and hardware does have its benefits, 920 with Meego anyone?). This is where it gets worrying,
SDK where art thou?
Microsoft have undertaken a colossal task of releasing a desktop OS AND Mobile OS at the same time whilst refreshing some other services such as Office, Outlook.com reunifying the brand. Piece of cake. You don't even see Apple attempt this, OS X has its cycle which is separate to that of iOS. The fact is iOS developers have had months with the iOS6 SDK. It makes complete sense.
When you think what they are actually trying to do its huge, and also a massive risk. Windows Phone 8 needs all the attention it can get if it stands a chance, the problem is time is running out. Holiday season approaching, Apple has launched iPhone 5, Google will launch New Nexus Phones at some point and lets not even mention 2013, thats RIM territory, and you don't want to be there (BB OS10 will destroy everyone, just so you know). It becomes even more Worrying when you look at the WP8 SDK. Hang on where is it? Peter Bright at Ars Technica has a good article about the potential problem.
This is what worries me most about Windows Phone 8, We all know that a good modern mobile OS needs Apps, and good ones. Part of its future lies with healthy support from App developers and especially when you are in the position Microsoft are in. Starving developers of an SDK to build the quality apps for what is a brand new, untested platform which you will need to convince people to buy, is not ideal. How do you convince people to get on your bandwagon?
Step 1. Good hardware. Nokia, Samsung and HTC will take care of that.
Step 2. Good software, apps that appeal to potential buyers, prime examples are instagram and angry birds.
You guys all know this, so does Microsoft. What baffles me is why Microsoft aren't leading the way here, Again Nokia is pulling its weight here making some pretty decent apps (transport, City lens, Nokia music), this is a company that when it wants to makes incredible apps, Photosynth I find incredible and something that should be an exclusive. We can see that they can deliver great apps so why don't they? Imagine if Windows Phone 8 launched with a mobile Halo, one app amongst a few exclusive WP8 launch apps. it got everyones attention all those years ago on Xbox and is a HUGE brand. (imagine playing it on a Lumia 920, I'll let you dribble for a sec).
Apple use this strategy, Garageband is an example of a cool app that's really well executed that serves two functions: shows off the platform and what it can do, encourages dev's to do what they do best, its an advert to Developers and Consumers all rolled into one. Microsoft if you want to get into the game you have the lead the assault from the front.
At this point I guess you are thinking, its just another WP fanboy having a rant which I guess I am, but its more then that, I crave development and innovation in a smartphone market thats dominated by two players who look identical. Microsoft with the Help of Nokia have potential to disrupt this. shooting yourself in the foot before starting the race doesn't help.
1. Steps 1 & 2 are vastly simplified steps to mobile os marketshare success. these two were most relevant for the piece.
2. Am I the only one who thinks the ATIV looks WAY nicer then the GS3, even though they are pretty much the same phone.