Remember when a mobile phone was for calling people? Yeah. Not anymore. Smartphones are the must-have tool in this connected society, and Microsoft is hoping their goose has finally laid the golden egg with its new Windows Phone 7 Series (WP7S). The phone is so new that it’s still wearing that clingy plastic screen protector. But the buzz is huge, and these are the most talked-about features…
At first glance, it’s sleek and sophisticated. At second glance, users will fall in love with the high-res touchscreen, and the not-too-touchy buttons (including a dedicated Bing button – imagine that). That’s about it. It’s refreshingly simple, and doesn’t feel overwhelming like a Blackberry. The graphics are outstanding, and the screens are like butter – scrolling vertically, launching easily, and sliding users around with nary an effort. By comparison, the iPhone seems a little … ahem … clunky.
Microsoft’s truly brilliant idea was to keep users highly connected by integrating their contact list with their favorite social networking sites. Users can instantly see friends’ feeds from a number of social networking sites, view online photo galleries, and more. Social media is the place to be, and Microsoft is there.
Rumor has it that apps for the WP7S will cost more than iPhone apps, but the quality will be better. Which is kind of the point. Microsoft’s strategy is to not let just anybody with a spare hour (and a willingness to comply with some bendy regulations) develop an app, and then sell it for a buck. But who knows? They may change their minds once customers begin shouting, “More apps! More apps!”
One of the most talked-about features of this new smartphone is its integration with Xbox Live. Details are still kind of sketchy, but initial buzz indicates that gamers will be able to make their avatar and Game ID mobile (as in “take it wherever you go”), and easily drop into Xbox Live casual games from someone else’s lair.
Microsoft really wants to build up Zune. So, of course, they’ve made it the go-to entertainment software within the new Microsoft 7 operating system. The WP7S will be Zune enabled, and the company has its fingers crossed that users will feel the experience is different from that offered by iTunes. Microsoft is banking on easy access to music and video, plus a “social element” that makes users feel extra-engaged.
Linux lovers don’t love Microsoft. But the fact is that the majority of companies worldwide use MS Office products, and this new smartphone will make a huge contribution to the 24/7 mobile office. It will allow users to create, edit, and share documents with ease – and without those pesky formatting problems – straight from their mobile device.
iPhone got pretty persnickety and chose AT&T as its only U.S. carrier. Microsoft sat back and laughed, and then learned from Apple’s faux pas. Every major wireless carrier will offer the WP7S, which could lessen its exclusive feel, but cause Microsoft’s stock to skyrocket.
OK, bugs aren’t a feature. But it’s worth mentioning that Apple does have an advantage here. The iPhone has been out for awhile, and the company has worked out some glitches. It is guaranteed that the first run of the WP7S will have its quirky moments, which will get the tech bloggers’ panties all in a bunch. But Microsoft’s advantage is they have the shiny, new smartphone. And that’s usually enough.
So tell us … do you think Microsoft is back in the game with their new smartphone? And – more importantly – do you think the name is going to be one of the biggest marketing blunders of 2010?