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Windows Phone Market Share Is Sinking, with No Help on the Way

Frustration, from what we remember, is the experience of trying to reach a goal and then realizing that, no matter what you do, there is no way to reach it. It's also what a lot of people at Microsoft -- and Microsoft partners -- must be feeling right now with regard to Windows Phone.

No matter what Microsoft does, this anvil just keeps plunging deeper into an ocean of market share, falling further and further behind Google and Apple. Microsoft tried -- although not nearly for long enough, we'd say -- to compete straight-up with Android and iOS, but nothing has worked thus far.

Now, as we've noted before, Microsoft is taking the near-Soviet approach of dumbing down its offerings in hope of reaching a nonexistent swath of people who want cheap, crippled "smart" phones. Frustration is setting in, and desperation is creeping out.

We've gone over in this space many times the challenges Windows Phone faces, the most important being -- to us, anyway -- that despite being beautiful, it doesn't look like any other operating system that has come before it. Revolutionary change, unless Apple does it, often doesn't go over well in the technology industry, particularly with consumers. Microsoft has just started trying to launch a revolution with its new interface. Now, it's taking the battle in the wrong direction by making Windows Phone devices less capable, not more.

What that means is that Microsoft is yanking its starting quarterback in the first quarter and putting a lousy backup in to finish the game. (Yes, we're mixing metaphors today like tossing a salad, although your editor doesn't much like salad, usually.) The result is likely to be that Windows Phone will be a flop akin to the Kin, and the sad part is that it doesn't have to be that way. Instead of throwing in the towel, Microsoft should use some of its wads of cash to continue to boost Windows Phone's functionality, not cut it, and to educate consumers on why a Microsoft mobile OS that's completely new and different is worth a look.

What we're getting instead is more timidity from the new Microsoft. The company that once barreled over its competition in every market it entered is sadly gone. The new Microsoft, at least the new consumer Microsoft, flails, stumbles and waves the white flag at the first sign of trouble. That's a great way to be a loser for a very long time, and it's no way to inspire confidence in a partner base. But it's what we're seeing with Windows Phone, and we hope it won't seep into the rest of Microsoft's operation.

Continue to offer your take on dumbed-down Windows Phone devices in the comments or at lpender@rcpmag.com. And thanks.

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Posted by Lee Pender on March 08, 2012 at 11:56 AM