Are better marketing and phones suitable for heavy enterprise use in the cards for Windows Phone this year?
Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s Windows Phone division, gave a briefing to financial analysts today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, outlining some of the goals and plans for Windows Phone. (The webcast of that briefing is available here.)
He also got in some digs at competitors, dissing their operating system updates. An audience member asked Myerson about what consumers can expect in terms of updates with new versions of operating systems as they emerge.
Statistically speaking, no Android phones get upgraded. None. Ever. They have big bugs that don’t even get patched. That’s what we’re seeing statistically out there.
In the case of Apple, they ship OS updates to hardware that makes it unusable. It’s a great hardware sales tool, as far as I can tell: install an OS that makes your hardware unusably slow so you feel compelled to go back to the store and buy a new piece of hardware.
He added that consumer expectations of updates can be a “landmine” and that Microsoft intends to be clear about what consumers can expect in that area.
One topic that repeatedly came up during the briefing was marketing, with Myerson acknowledging the need to increase consumer demand — or even awareness — of Windows Phone. (Windows Phone currently has less than 2 percent of the global market among smartphone platforms, and less than 6 percent of the U.S. market, according to some research firms’ estimates.) Without providing many specifics, he said the Windows Phone marketing approach was being changed
“Our biggest challenges are now are not with regard to building a product,” Myerson said. “I think the reviews are all great. The customer satisfaction scores are great. Our challenges are really about building consumer awareness.”
“How do we go about doing that,” the questioner asked.
Myerson replied: “Well, we’re going to have to do some marketing.”
In response to an audience member who said he thought the pace of Windows Phone marketing seemed “slow and timid, compared to the other two incumbents which are driving ahead very quickly,” Myerson said:
It’s really taken time to build up speed. And we are unfortunately changing our marketing approach. Picking up speed again is going to take us a little time. And I’m not talking time in years. I’m talking time in months. We’re focused on marketing.
The “big change we’re making at the highest level,” Myerson said, is that historically, the company has relied on partners to do marketing and now, at least in the phone space, it’s going to do more marketing to consumers itself.
“We need to rebuild the Windows Phone brand with consumers and drive demand there,” he said.
The release of Windows 8 — the Consumer Preview version of Windows 8 launched today — should also help Windows Phone, Myerson said, given that they share a very similar tile-based user interface design called Metro and given how many people use Windows.
“The most familiar UI for people worldwide will be Metro very soon,” he said. “And that’s great for the phone business.”
In response to a question about forward and backward compability, Myerson said the goal is that all Windows Phone 7 applications will run on Windows Phone 8.
And it sounds like Microsoft is planning to release a phone that will be suitable for enterprise users who are concerned with security, manageability and connectivity.
“It’s reasonable to anticipate we will have a product that has world-class technologies in all those areas,” Myerson said.
(Image of Nokia Lumia 900 running Windows Phone from Microsoft)