Editorial: Former Microsoft Exec Charlie Kindel disses Microsoft for Window Phone 7′s failures

Posted on Dec 27 2011 - 12:57pm by Mike Wewerka

Microsoft’s former chief developer of its Windows Phone has made some waves recently, after having decided to leave the Redmond company after 21 years, he chose to post some comments on his blog that basically points the finger at Microsoft and their lack of communication and ability to work with Carriers and OEM hardware manufacturers as to why Windows Phone 7 has failed to take off.

In his post, Kindel says that Microsoft is “limiting” freedom to partners and so they’ve decided not to push the OS as strong as Apple and Android and this is why Windows Phone is still sitting on only 1.5% market share. He says that Google has done a great job of working with both carriers and manufacturers and that Apple has basically taken on all the responsibilities that carriers normally need to worry about, as they have their own marketing, retail stores and support, all a carrier has to do is sit back and collect the millions of dollars that flow in from the iPhone.

Kindel said this is extremely noticeable when customers go into the retail stores of every carrier and the sales people really don’t push Windows Phone 7. Because they have no motivation to sell.

His post and statements have drawn out the critics,  some of which are well known people in the industry, such as Robert Scoble, who said:

“Android and iOS are ‘safe’ because that’s where the apps are. Anything else? Not safe. Every conversation, every ad, and every Techcrunch post, er, Verge post, will remind them of where the apps are,”

I tend to agree with Scoble here, while there are a few other reasons I feel Windows Phone 7 has failed to attract consumers, let’s look at Scoble’s reasons.

Apps are a big part of why people buy a smartphone. Back when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, there was no app store or anything like it, sure other smartphones had other applications or services you could buy, but not like Apple’s forthcoming App Store. The iPhone also didn’t have a competitor that had anything like it, BlackBerry’s and Palm’s phones were not complete touchscreen phones, Palms required a stylus and BlackBerry, well, do I really need to say anything else. So when Apple launched the App Store, it redefined what people could do with a Smartphone and brought them to the masses, instead of the corporate world, like RIM’s BlackBerry.

When Android dropped, it filled that void of a powerful competitor. It became Apple and Android, while Microsoft sat back thinking about ways to trump the two, instead of actually doing it. As Microsoft decided to spend too much time thinking, Apple and Android moved forward, making their OS’s easier to use and inviting developers to join them. Apple climbed past the 500,000 app barrier and even launched the iPad which has over 200,00 dedicated Apps and Android is now over 300,000 Apps. Microsoft kept delaying their OS and when it did finally launch, the company was so far behind it’s competitors it coudn’t keep up.

Another reason Windows Phone 7 is failing to make a dent and maybe the part Kindel doesn’t want to admit, is because it could be his fault. When Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 it wasn’t really ready. It was missing key features, like copy and paste and it just didn’t feel finished. Then it took them much longer to deliver Mango (which had features that should have been included at launch) to OEM’s and once again, put them behind the rest. Even now, as phones like Apple and Android prepare to move toward quad-core processors, Window’s Phone 7 devices still don’t support a dual-core processor. Kindel can’t put the blame squarely on the relationship between Microsoft and carriers and OEM’s, while that may be part of the problem, the main problem comes from the software.

This is my point-of-view, so feel free to disagree, but this is what I firmly believe. While Window Phone 7 is a fresh  take on a smartphone OS, it lacks features that’s its competitors have had for years. It lacks customization, these “Tiles” or “Hubs” while unique and interesting, take away the customization of the phone. So you can change their color…big deal, people are vain, no if, ands, or buts about it. People love putting their own wallpapers on their phones and seeing it, not just on a lockscreen, but on every screen. It’s the little details that make all the difference.

Even a phones exterior, isn’t necessarily the deciding factor, it all has to work together. The iPhone is gorgeous and it works, so it sells well. But look at phones like the LG Optimus S, it’s a decent, affordable phone, nothing fancy, yet it has probably outsold every Windows Phone device, combined, because of the Android software, its customization and ease of use. Another example is Nokia’s Lumia 800, which is a beautiful looking device, yet, its sales, according to Reuters, has been underwhelming and well, look like a bomb for Nokia. Proving that putting the OS in a pretty shell, isn’t the answer.

To be honest, I don’t know if there is an answer for Microsoft at this point. They are in the same boat as RIM… the “To Little, To Late” boat. No matter what Microsoft does at this point, it will always be behind Apple and Android, they don’t have the eco-system to fall back on with each and every new software update. When Apple let’s say updates iOS to the next version, even if it’s dramatically different in presentation, the apps will all work, because Apple knows that’s where its success lies. But they built that Eco system at a time when they were the only ones doing it. Android followed up and did so to secure that second place (which went on to become first) spot. Being number three or four doesn’t work out so well, ask Sega and Nintendo how that’s working out for them in the video game world. If you’re to late to the party, chances are all the good beer and food is gone. In this case, the people or customers have already chosen a side and are pretty loyal to that side from this point out. But even if they decide to switch from Apple or Android, do you think they’d go backwards to Windows, with less of everything? I don’t think so.

Sorry, Kindel, while I think you may be partially right, a lot of the blame goes to the Windows Phone development team at Microsoft, the team that you were a part of, who dropped the ball and were way to late for the party, like 3 and half years to late.

Motivation: For this post, this post was merely my opinion on the matter.