Windows Phone 7 is Almost Here

Windows Phone 7 was launched this week and will be available on mobile phones starting November 8th. Microsoft has been largely absent from the mobile phone revolution that Apple began with the iPhone. Blackberry has been evolving its phones, and Android has had the fastest growth in the market. So should retailers starting porting their applications to the WP7 platform?

ebay_wp7.jpg
I've discussed the marketshare statistics previously, but the net is that the worldwide marketshare for Windows mobile is around 4% and falling. So I've told retailers they should release on iOS first, then Android. That's sufficient for most, but some will want to eventually support Blackberry and Web-based (for feature phones). I've never recommended supporting Windows Mobile.

Microsoft has featured Tesco's and eBay's applications during the WP7 launch and both look great. Obviously it will take a while to build up applications in the WP7 store, but rest assured the apps are coming.

From what I've read, the interface appears to be very easy to use, possibly on par with the iPhone. And Microsoft is trying to avoid some of Android's issues, namely, lack of quality control, consistency across handsets, and complexity. With an easy-to-use interface, support for multiple handsets, and rigorous quality control, Microsoft has a winning formula. But the general consensus on the internet seems to be that WP7 will not threaten the iPhone, although it could slow Android's growth. It may just be too late.

So at least for now, I still recommend retailers wait on developing WP7 applications.

Comments:

Why would a retailer care about who "threatens" who in this space or what the growth rates are? That is of no consequence. Marginal growth in reach and sales is far more important.

A retailer should be focused on providing access to all customers, platform independent. It's not our job to pick winners or losers in the smartphone market - just to be there for customers, whatever the channel or tool they use.

The opportunity of picking up sales is the priority, not saving 5 bucks on development of an additional application to access the expensive web infrastructure you have built up. If you're going to be facing bankruptcy for adding one more mobile platform, then one has larger problems in the first place.

As such I find this article problematic. The kind of perspective here maybe could be relevant to a single cowboy shop who has no resources and has to make one big bet to trying to make it big in selling apps. But for a retailer with a need to drive traffic and sales it is entirely the wrong advice. I want the customer to know that they can reach me anytime no matter what device they have. Its not your job to make their shopping choices dependent on access platforms but rather INDEPENDENT of them.

Posted by Sam on October 13, 2010 at 09:18 PM CDT #

Sam, I agree that the perfect solution is to support all mobile platforms, but the reality is that many retailers cannot afford to do that, even tier-1 retailers. So they must make a selection, and its usually based on reach. There are solution providers, Oracle included, that are trying to create development environments that support all mobile platforms. However, until they are more mature most retailers end up choosing 1-3 platforms to support.

Posted by David on October 13, 2010 at 11:00 PM CDT #

This reminds me of the long past age of browser wars. The point of the web is to make stuff more accessible, not less so. If we are developing solutions that end up artificially restricting the user, then we are working on the wrong premise to begin with. Make the solutions less platform-dependent. Or avoid platforms that force this choice and cost.

Posted by Sam on October 13, 2010 at 11:36 PM CDT #

Sam, it is exactly like the browsers wars, and I can't wait for HTML5 to solve this problem!

Posted by David on October 13, 2010 at 11:40 PM CDT #

great post thanks

Posted by Ralph Thompson on October 17, 2010 at 05:13 PM CDT #

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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