Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
When Windows Phone 7 launched in the final few months of 2010 the mobile OS landscape was hugely different to where we find ourselves today. In Great Britain, iOS and RIM were fighting it out for second place while Android’s share hovered around 35%.
Since then, in Britain and worldwide, Android has become increasingly dominant – in Spain it now accounts for eight out of every 10 smartphones sold.
For some companies like Samsung this rise to prominence has been hugely beneficial, but other manufacturers and carriers are becoming increasingly wary of putting all their eggs in one Android basket. The hegemony of Android has created a marketplace in which manufacturers are struggling to differentiate themselves, and this is a major cause for concern.
A plethora of law suits against different Android manufacturers has only served to increase reservations about almost solely using this OS.
Under these market conditions many carriers and manufacturers are looking for a better OS mix to help them stand out from the crowd, and the new Windows OS may be the answer. A number of excellent devices are adopting the OS from launch including the HTC 8X, Samsung Ativ S and Nokia 920.
All are receiving positive reviews, and make a clear step away from the synonymous black touchscreen that is so often associated with Android.
Additionally, and very importantly, Microsoft is making improvements to its app services by promising to support 46 out the top 50 most popular apps.
With just 51% of Windows Phone 7 owners saying they are happy with the Windows app store, compared with over 80% on both iOS and Android, this is a big and crucial step forward.
Windows Phone 8 does undoubtedly have some key improvements over Windows Phone 7. This includes the ability to support multi-core CPUs, HD content and NFC, upgrades which have put the platform on a par with iOS and Android.
But Windows Phone 7 didn’t underperform due to the quality of the OS – far from it – many reviews claimed that it was a more modern and intuitive system than Android or even iOS. Where it struggled was from a lack of support from manufacturers and carriers, and therefore somewhat inevitably from developers. Now, however, with the backing of global manufacturers and carriers, which are looking for a greater OS mix, Microsoft should be perfectly poised to benefit.