Microsoft's "Smoked by Windows Phone" marketing campaign, a test of rival smartphones' speed against its mobile OS, started off as a small gimmick during the company's final booth at CES 2012. Since then, it has turned into a full-blown advertising effort involving web commercials and Microsoft's retail stores. Not everyone is convinced Microsoft is playing fair, though, with accusations of defeated challenges and unfair rules. We look at the life of the promotion from a CES show floor to Microsoft's brick-and-mortar stores.
May 8, 2012
When Microsoft launched its "Smoked by Windows Phone" tests at CES this year, we didn't expect them to become a linchpin of the company's mobile campaign. Clearly, we were wrong, and now Microsoft has released numbers on just how big it's gotten. According to a recent blog post, the speed tests have been run in 36 countries, and a total of 50,675 devices have been "smoked" by a rival Windows Phone. More impressively for Microsoft, 98 percent of the tests conducted from CES until now have been won by the Windows Phone, with a mere 638 phones earning the roughly $100 (depending on country) prize.Read Article >
There has, of course, been some controversy over the results. One winner, who used a Galaxy Nexus to show weather faster than a Windows Phone, got an official apology (as well as a phone and laptop) when Microsoft denied his win on a technicality. Our own Sean Hollister has also taken the test, noting that "nearly every test favors Windows Phone's clever integration of social networking and local search into the operating system... and the few that don't, like the two-city weather test, are carefully doled out to users with ancient, slow devices, those who obviously aren't tech-savvy, and those who don't care if they're a winner." Windows Phone has some fantastic features, but Microsoft's unlikely to start a fight it doesn't think it can win.
Apr 11, 2012
In spite of taking some flak for its testing methodology, Microsoft clearly likes the awareness-spreading effects of its "Smoked by Windows Phone" campaign and is this week expanding it to Korea via local carrier KT. The premise is simple: bring your own smartphone to a participating store and square it off against a Windows Phone in a randomly chosen challenge to perform a simple, routine task. Any winners will be rewarded with 100,000 Korean won, which is around $90 in US currency, close to the $100 Microsoft offered at the promotion's outset in the US during the Consumer Electronics Show in January.Read Article >
The Korean version has been dubbed the Art of Speed and follows in the international footsteps of the Nokia-operated Lumia Challenge. You can see the calendar of planned events over on the official Facebook page, though don't get too excited if you're looking to match wits with the very latest Windows Phone — Korea Telecom only has the Lumia 710 on sale. For now.
Mar 30, 2012Read Article >
Nokia tells us that this follows in the footsteps of similar campaigns conducted over in the US, where "the consumer reaction has been amazing." No stats are being shared with us yet, but evidently the task of engaging a wider audience for Windows Phone is going well.
Mar 27, 2012
"Do you think I have a chance of winning?" I asked the nice lady in the blue Microsoft t-shirt. "No," she said, a split second after the last word left my mouth. "Droid 4, right?" She pointed at my device. "I had that phone."Read Article >
At the Valley Fair Shopping Mall in Santa Clara, California, after waiting an hour in line at the Microsoft Store for a chance to win a $1,000 laptop by proving my Droid 4 was faster than a Windows Phone, my speedy dual-core LTE device was being condemned without a minute's thought. She gave me a sympathetic glance, thanked me very politely for waiting, and even offered me a soda when I casually mentioned how I'd missed lunch by standing in line. Then, her colleagues rolled out a handtruck filled with water bottles, and offered them to all the other line sitters. So gracious. So polite.
Mar 26, 2012
Microsoft's working quickly to counter backlash it's receiving after denying a user who won a Windows Phone challenge his just reward. Yesterday, Sahas Katta won a "Smoked by Windows Phone" challenge when his Galaxy Nexus displayed the weather of two different cities faster than the Windows Phone he was up against, but the Microsoft store claimed that he had to show weather from two different states. Microsoft has been roundly bashed for this technicality since then, so Windows Phone evangelist Ben Rudolph has just taken to Twitter to apologize and offer Katta a new laptop and Windows Phone, as well as an apology.Read Article >
While it's good to see Microsoft quickly try and make things right with a scorned consumer, questions about how fair Microsoft's contest is remain. For his part, Rudolph responded quickly — 10 hours ago, he offered a rematch to Katta, but two hours after that he said he was trying to "make it right" and that he didn't "see what really went down." We'll be watching to see if anyone else comes forward with tales of Microsoft stacking the odds in its contest.
Mar 26, 2012
The Windows Phone Challenge, provocatively dubbed "Smoked by Windows Phone" by Microsoft, appears to have suffered its first defeat at the hands of a competing smartphone this weekend, and Microsoft's response has reportedly been less than sporting.Read Article >
Sahas Katta, a self-confessed fan of Windows Phone's design, went down to his local Microsoft Store to pit his Android 4.0-powered Galaxy Nexus in a speed test against Microsoft's smartphones and, surprisingly, came out on top. The tests are geared heavily in favor of Microsoft's services, but Sahas still managed to outdo them when tasked with showing the weather for two different cities. The Microsoft Store assistant already had weather tiles for two cities pinned to her Start screen, but Sahas similarly had two weather widgets on his Android homescreen and, importantly, had disabled the lock screen on his phone, allowing him to show the requisite info within a moment of pressing the Galaxy Nexus power button.
Mar 23, 2012
Microsoft is turning its $100 "Smoked by Windows Phone" campaign into a $1,000 challenge at its retail stores across the US this weekend. Visitors can walk into a Microsoft Store between 9AM and 10PM local time to challenge Microsoft to a Windows Phone speed test — winners will walk away with a Hunger Games Special Edition PC and "losers" will be offered the opportunity to swap their current smartphone for a Windows Phone. There are 10 prizes per store each day.Read Article >
We spoke to one person familiar with the promotion, who confirmed that Microsoft will accept modern smartphones like iPhones, Android handsets, and RIM's BlackBerry devices. Shoppers will be asked to sign a release form to use their story in future advertising and there's a number of strict rules involved — including a limitation to one attempt only. Microsoft Store visitors won't have to hand over their phone at the end of the challenge if they don't want to, but they will get the opportunity to swap it for one of the latest Windows Phones (excluding the Nokia Lumia 800) without a contract. The $1,000 Windows Phone challenge starts today, as part of The Hunger Games opening weekend, and will end on March 29th.
Feb 23, 2012
"You asked. We listened," says Microsoft, introducing the company's latest approach to Windows Phone marketing, a nod to its Windows Phone fans who have requested better ads. The software giant is struggling to win solid market share for its Windows Phone devices, and faces stiff competition from the likes of Google and Apple — who are both eating away customers and mindshare from Microsoft products and services. Microsoft's feeling the heat, and the company has started to bare its teeth in recent months.Read Article >
The latest ads are direct and almost warlike. From newspaper adverts and parody videos of VMWare and Gmail, to the more recent attacks against Google. "Smoked by Windows Phone" joins the trend and started at CES in January as a small promotion designed to highlight some advantages of Windows Phone, following a similar social networking approach used in the #droidrage campaign. The company is now using this as a web marketing effort, running comparison videos of Windows Phone versus Android and iPhone devices on a number of web sites throughout February and March, including Forbes, Business Insider, and Entertainment Tonight.
Jan 10, 2012
Microsoft will hand out $100 to CES 2012 attendees who are able to beat the speed of Windows Phone. Ben Rudolph, Microsoft's phone and PC guy, is running the contest from the software makers' booth at CES. The challenge is simple, beat a Windows Phone feature with a rival device. Microsoft has created a number of challenges, including taking, tagging, posting pictures to Facebook, and posting status updates to multiple social networks. To win $100 all people have to do is simply beat Windows Phone with any other cellphone.Read Article >
Rudolph is calling the challenge "smoked by Windows Phone", and contestants might get the chance to win a Windows Phone in the process. Microsoft's latest marketing effort is designed to drive awareness for the platform, Rudolph admitted to us on Monday, something that Windows Phone lacks despite being released over a year ago. Rudolph's not concerned if hardcore Android fans turn up with tweaked devices to beat the challenge though, challengers will only be able to pick one of 10 scenarios to go head-to-head with Windows Phone. The challenge kicks off at 2pm (PT) today and we'll be watching closely to see just how many people manage to snag $100.