Is Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 The Next Zune?

Jul 16th, 2010 | By | Category: iPods & Portable Media Players

Will Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 7 smartphone be the next Zune?

Could be – based on the latest Windows Phone 7, InfoWorld says Microsoft should just kill the project now:

There’s no kind way to say it: Windows Phone 7 will be a failure.

Windows Phone 7 is a waste of time and money. It’s a platform that no carrier, device maker, developer, or user should bother with. Microsoft should kill it before it ships and admit that it’s out of the mobile game for good.

Windows Phone 7 is a pale imitation of the 2007-era iPhone. It’s as if Microsoft decided in summer 2007 to copy the iPhone and has shut its developers in a bunker ever since, so they don’t realize that several years have passed, that the iPhone has advanced, and that competitors such as Google Android and Palm WebOS have also pushed the needle forward. Microsoft is stuck in 2007, with a smartphone OS whose feature checklist might match that era’s iPhone but whose fit and finish would look like a Pinto next to a Maserati.

InfoWorld’s take on the Windows Phone 7 is scathing – but it mirrors the Zune’s failure to impress when it was introduced.

InfoWorld’s comments on Windows Phone 7 highlight how much Apple’s iPhone has transformed the wireless industry. The iPhone and Android platforms are now leading the way, after emerging from seemingly nowhere just a few years ago.

Microsoft apologists will suggest that this is because of Apple’s marketing. But Microsoft spends twice as much on advertising as Apple – and seems to get half the results.

Is there still hope for Windows Phone 7? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

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31 Responses to “Is Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 The Next Zune?”

  1. Tom says:

    One key fact of this discussion is missing…when we hear about the smartphone market, we are only hearing about the consumer market…if we take the corporate market into consideration, we have an entirely different conversation, and Microsoft becomes a totally different animal.

    Microsoft has definitely missed the current boat, but this is a rapidly changing industry. One of the consequences of MS’s failure in the wireless space was their abandoning the developers. The fact is that they scrapped the previous OS and re-built from the ground up, completely unlike their historic pattern of building upon the previous OS.

    This is a major risk for Microsoft, without a doubt, however they absolutely need to take it if they want to remain competitive in a space they essentially already own (corporate). Additionally, looking at the actual markets that exist today, Blackberry is still technically the most widely used wireless platform as it has a major foothold in the corporate space. I, like countless others, carry my XYZ phone AND a Blackberry issued by my employer. As for the distribution of computer OS’s on the desktop, where the Blackberry is inextricably married to the selected messaging platform, Microsoft Exchange rules that space.

    So, the risk Microsoft is taking is not only necessary, it is strategic and intelligent. If they pull this off, Blackberry could very well be ousted in the corporate space and Microsoft could become owner of yet another niche that would be a natural extension of a market they already own.

    • James Lewin says:

      Tom – good points.

      You’re right – Microsoft missed the boat by not innovating fast enough and this left an opening for Apple. But if Apple can go from nowhere to dominating the industry in a few years, there’s no reason Microsoft shouldn’t be able to shake things up just as dramatically.

      Their time is limited on this, though, because Apple is starting to get accepted corporately and Android will probably see even faster adoption.

      • Claude says:

        “Microsoft missed the boat by not innovating fast enough and this left an opening for Apple. ”
        Agreed, although MS was years ahead of Apple in the SmartPhone market originally, and MS is a leading inventor of touch technologies, MS still failed to innovate its smartphone user interface from small, barely recognizable icons.

        Windows Phone 7 is completely different, it will undoubtedly be a success and several reviews had deemed it better than the iPhone making that look old-fashioned. Looking at the incredibly cool interface of Windows Phone 7 as well as the hardware coming for the operating system, it is a welcome change from MS mobile OS, despite being very, very late… (thanks to bad top management of this area (including Steve).

  2. Sala says:

    This article has no basis on what Microsoft is trying to do. I’ve attended various sessions on Windows Phone 7 and the UI is refreshing. The problem Microsoft has is really on Marketing as they suck in it. This phone UI has received various positive reviews and I commend Microsoft in trying a new approach. They bombed with Windows Mobile 6.x and have hired a whole new team in this design. I’m looking forward to seeing these phones and not be stuck with only Apple and Google. When it comes down to it, MSFT needs to market effectively and gain the mind share of the young. Xbox integration is a key for the young and from a corporate perpective, the productivity hub with access to SharePoint (One of the fasting growing portals) might differentiate them from Apple and Google. I say let’s see how it plays out instead of making claims that this will be a failure. The writer of this original article might be sponsored by Apple or Google.

    • James Lewin says:

      Sala – I can assure that I am not sponsored by Apple or Google. They’ve got deep pockets, though, so let the bidding begin.

      Your suggestion that Apple and Android are leading in the wireless space because Microsoft’s marketing “sucks”, though, is not fair to Microsoft’s marketing dept. Windows Mobile 6 looks pathetic next to the iPhone and Android and marketing can’t fix that.

  3. Ken Jackson says:

    Zune actually came around to probably being a better media device, except for one thing… hardware ecosystem. But by that point it was too late (and HW ecosystem is important).

    I think the phone shows a lot of promise. InfoWorld has always been somewhat anti-MS, although not like a pure Mac site.

    WP7 has several advantages over the iPhone:
    * Multiple HW form factors (e.g., a keyboard)
    * A better media player. For all the buzz about the iPod, the media player in the Zune HD is better designed.
    * Better Office and Exchange integration
    * XBox Live integration
    * Better developer model (Silverlight and XNA)
    * Multiple carriers
    * Etc…

    I think this battle is a simple win for the consumer. I personally think the Android devices are the phones to beat now. The Samsung Epic 4G looks incredible. I suspect that Apple will be reduced to being a second-tier player once again, although this time maybe to Google.

    • James Lewin says:

      Ken

      Glad to hear an alternate opinion.

      Some of the WP7′s “advantages” you mention come with some significant disadvantages too.

      I like the idea of multiple HW form factors. But this makes things more complicated and expensive for developers, which will tend to hinder development on the platform and increase the likelihood of buggy apps.

      And the market simply disagrees with you on the suggestion that the Zune has a better media player. Either Apple has brainwashed everybody or Zune’s differentiating features are only significant to a niche market.

      The opening for Microsoft is the business market, and the Office/Exchange integration, corporate developer support and multiple carriers should help out there.

  4. Hopper Schultheis says:

    I really don’t understand why people attack Windows Phone 7 so vigorously. It hasn’t even come to market. Even if that guy at infoworld has seen and indepth demo and hated it, he soesn’t explain why. He repeats that its stuff from the 2007 iPhone-era, but I fail to see how this is. If your gonna say stuff like that, at least give me some reason and info Why. For instance, I can say I don’t like the iOS because it really doesn’t do anything. It has no native functionality and would be nothing without if numerous apps. On top of that, I don’t think its all that beautiful either. In conclusion, I just need to know why everyone thinks that this will fail, because so far, all I’ve seen are articles based on nothing but crap.

  5. Rob Greenlee says:

    All WP7 needs is a fair shot in the market and it seems like some don’t want to give it that shot. I play with this phone OS regularly and it is amazing, sure it will have some shortcomings in the first version, but it will be regularly improved just like other mobile OS’s. It will still wow potential users when they see it light up with social network content and the very cool metro UI. The phone will be out in the Fall. It will also be the only other mobile platform to tightly integrate podcasts paired with a great podcast content catalog. I appreciate the more objective comments and post at Podcasting News. I hope others are rooting for the success of WP7 as more competition in the market is always good for consumers and those that like cool tech.

    • arjun says:

      What do you think WP7 needs to get a “fair shot” in the market?

      Do you think older Windows phones or the Zune didn’t get a fair shot?

      I had one of the original Zunes, and it was like the Commodore 64 of MP3 players. You couldn’t fan the stink off of that thing.

      And then it died because of a software bug. And then I updated the software and it had cool animations but the battery only lasted an hour.

      Based on the InfoWorld guy’s comments, it sounds like Microsoft is doing the same thing with the WP7, trying to put lipstick on a pig.

      • zs450 says:

        “And then it died because of a software bug. And then I updated the software and it had cool animations but the battery only lasted an hour. ”

        You had a crappy Zune. My Zune 30 lived from day 1 until I sold it after picking up a Zune HD. The battery would go no less than 12 hours on a charge and that’s being conservative. I’ve left Zunes in the car overnight playing music and still made it to and from work with enough power to get through.

        The Zune software didn’t get a “fair shot” because the Zune hardware was fugly. The software has been subject to a few awards over the years but before the HD they couldn’t get it onto anything that a person would want to look at much less carry. It was like holding an iMac in a LAN party, just not right!
        Speaking of Mac. When people call Zune a “failure” take the numbers into account. It has a mere 4% or 5% of the market. Pretty low when you look at the 80%+ of the iPod. On the other hand, Mac OSX has something a little under 4.5% of the worldwide market, so should Apple be called a failure because of the laughable share? Also, consider the worldwide market thing. Some loon at MS decided that only the US needed to have the Zune HD. There are plenty of people overseas who wanted to get one and it would likely have given MS a nice boost in the market if they had spread the love a bit. Now, considering they only hold 4.5% of the world market yet that % is only in the US vs the distribution of the other guys, it’s not so tiny anymore.
        There is far from no one using the thing and it would be dumb for MS to kill it with the small buy loyal fanbase they have built. The Zune software is excellent and the Zune Pass is a selling point that many people, even some that I know that don’t own Zune hardware, use and love.

        I agree with a previous poster to an extent. Microsoft fails at Marketing. The Windows 7 campaign actually is the most work they’ve kicked out since XP. the I’m a PC thing was ok though a little behind the Mac attacks that just faded away after Snow Leopard launched. The ads with Gates and Seinfeild were no good and the laptop hunters series was killed off too early by getting a bit stale.

        Anyway. You had a bad Zune :D

    • James Lewin says:

      Rob

      Thanks for your comments.

      The question is whether it will wow people next to the iPhone and leading Android phones. InfoWorld’s answer is unequivocally “no” – but I think we won’t know for sure until the fall.

      Your statement that “sure it will have some shortcomings in the first version, but it will be regularly improved just like other mobile OS’s” worries me, though.

      Microsoft has to come out of the gate with something that is competitive with the iPhone and Android if they want to wow people.

      I make the Zune comparison in the headline for just that reason. The Zune brand is tarnished because the original Zune was half-baked. If WP7 doesn’t “wow” people, it’s going to be another tarnished brand.

  6. Dave says:

    This article is rediculous. whoever wrote this should stop writing and sell everything you own. i for one hate apple with a passion but if they were to introduce something being in the same situation as microsoft, i wouldnt say its a failure, its a failure. just like everyone else says, you need more os in the market. it leaves a colourful and intricate market. i still love my winmo 6.1. yeah its boring and really buggy but i still survive. and to say zune is a failure??? you should get out and look around. it might not sell but thats because apple has become a statement for everyone in the new generation. take away apples apps and the zune hd will destroy the itouch. i have loved every zune ive owned. so instead of bashing a product that hasnt even come out. why dont you hope for different products. what a bland world it would be if we al had apple products. everything would be silver, silver, white, black, silver. how colorful. be smart dont be dumb.

  7. All this Microsoft bashing is irresponsible journalism.

    Done right, Microsoft has the ability to integrate all forms of digital media in a way Apple can’t. While the Zune wasn’t as successful as it should have been, the Xbox has been very popular and Apple has nothing like it. Imagine the ability to network the PC, Xbox and Windows phone together so you can not only communicate with others but access music and television through it.

    And if you want to talk about mistakes, let’s not overlook Apple’s biggest blunder, the iPhone 4. The love affair with Apple will die as Microsoft gets it’s game in order.

  8. dan says:

    Infoworld sounds like a completely incompetent entity. The point of windows phone 7 isn’t to rehash what apple and google have already done. microsoft is creating it’s own unique and outstanding interface. and the point of the tiles isn’t to pin every single app you have. that’s why they have repeatedly said it’s for what’s most IMPORTANT to you. likewise there is a separate page for all your apps. and from what i’ve already seen windows phone 7 looks amazing. along with all the amazing devices they are lining up. please do us all a favor and keep your dim witted opinions to yourself.

  9. 007 says:

    I”m sorry for even wasting my time on this site. I think apple, android, and microsoft are helping push competition and inovate there product lines, and consumers are reaping the benefit……

  10. Jay says:

    The main reasons why the Zune never came into its own were marketing and apps. Give Apple credit; they pioneered the sexy iPod and then iPhone with a great app store. M$ on the other hand never implemented a full ecosystem of great hardware, software and apps. In fact, they’ve spent the last two years playing catch-up on all fronts. Moreover, had they not gone down the KIN boondoggle, they would have most likely released WP7 six months earlier. Had they done this, WP7 would have made it to market before the iPhone 4. I agree the initial focus for WP7 will be the enterprise, but it’s obvious the XBox and Zune integration will be major selling points for the consumer space. What M$ does need to do is to clarify their multitasking vision for WP7. I think most people who are looking to upgrade to a smartphone will look past the initial lack of true multitasking if they know M$ has the real deal coming down the pike in 6-9 months. Finally, WM has been rightly abandoned by developers over the past two years. Now however, it’s readily apparent to any developer that M$ is about to field a mobile operating system that will put them back in the game long-term, meaning developers will be willing to invest in WP7.

  11. Rob Greenlee says:

    Arjun, Yes – I think Zune over the past year has not been given a fair shot by many. I have heard people say that the Zune devices and software is a failure and terrible but yet many of these same naysayers have never actually seen the Zune software, Zune HD or used one. I know that is just human nature to hear some influential blogger or news story come out like this one and many people start to believe it as fact. This is a common issue in the political world as well that people with an agenda can influence other perceptions. I agree that Zune has struggled, but think that if everyone who bashed it would actually just download the Zune Marketplace software and give it a try would think it is outstanding and very competitive to iTunes. I just hope everyone keeps an open mind about WP7 and not pass judgement early. Get out to the phone stores and touch it when it actually hits the market and download the FREE Zune Marketplace software – http://www.zune.net. Then everyone can pass judgement on it.

  12. Auzzie says:

    okay, ive read previous comments onn here, and they seem quite disturbing, along with this article which is even more disturbing. I read up to “Microsoft should just kill the project now” feeling confident about the article, but when i got to that part, i questioned it greatly, asking myself why? why would they do that? i mean they hired thousands of new engineers for the project, its freshly built, ive seen, and played with demo’s, at first it was laggy, but now its become very responsive to what the user wants, which is what i like. AGAIN above a user commented on all the integration, without that i dont think i would buy it, but because it has it, i will most probably. With Xbox, PC, and Cloud integration in whole, this thing connects to billions of media information and delivers it on my device, quite fascinating actually, and now im hearing about a online storage cloud for Windows phone 7 that will be able to be easily accessed for about 25gb of free memory, now that is something i need for my device.

    Anyways, coincidently, the year microsoft decides to throw itself into the battle (again), apple unfortunately failed with its new phone (hardware wise). As you probobly know, their are reception issues with it, but of course you can cover up the damn phone with a case and fix it (very un-atractive), and the phone is also fragile, ive seen 1 drop break the whole thing, anyway, this was gonna be my phone, until all this was revealed, now i shifted my view to WP7.

    As ive read before, you people just dont want to accept it…its brand new, and being heavily developed on, you cannot compare the last thing to this. And from what i read, its all just people sayin “its gonna fail, or be terrible” but why? why will it fail? i look above, one person says their is too much competition, what the hell does that change for the phone? does that make it worse? anwser to that is…it will remain the same, but the entry into the market will be harder. now do you buy something for how good it is, or is your whole decision based upon when that awsome phone entered the market? give me a break…

    anyways to finalize.. this article is chicken shit, like when a fortune teller tells you to throw some bones on a table and she can see the future. This phone has nothing bad to it, its reborn, its fresh, consider it greatly, as it has many surprises to give forth.

  13. zee says:

    the writer is a epic fail. wp7 ftw. Well im a radio talk show host and did a segment on wp7 and iphone and android. Half the listners considerd on getting wp7. while half want android. the very few brought up iphone that too only to say its a Ladies phone. most women are not so techy so they perfer iphone…..

  14. T.Lee says:

    Well, I for one cant wait for WP7. I have a HD2 and I love it. Now Im waiting for the HD3-WP7!!

    • Joshua Stowers says:

      Agreed. The phone looks pretty nice. So far it doesn’t look like it does as much as Android, but it’s fun to use and is very well integrated with Microsoft’s plethora of great products. EX: Zune, Windows 7, XBox, Hotmail, and Bing. You never would have heard me say that a year ago, but Microsoft’s products have become truly amazing.

  15. Calor says:

    Zee – what?

    The iPhone is a “ladies phone”?

    Were you intending to say something comprehensible there?

  16. Leigh says:

    The writer of this article should be severely chastised with an iron bar for stooping to quote InfoWorld. Galen who wrote the original article is only seeking to boost his ratings by writing that junk anyway.

    This is the brave new internet world. Get hits however you get them, put on a different face everyday, and collect the benefits.

    Have a nice day.

  17. Argon says:

    For one thing mr.James is the the only failure that I have seen so far is this article. Windows Phone 7 is not even out yet, and you claim it a failure, pathetic. And in my and many other people’s opinion Windows Phone 7 will do juust fine, your view on phone OS’s have been clearly highly based by iOS and Android models. Windows Phone 7 brings in and uses a totally different market strategy model, which fits in between Android and iPhone. Positive review across all technical sites is a failure? And AT&T is ordering 8 million Windows Phone 7 devices now thats a failure to you I suppose. Well whatever is a failure to you mr.James is a success to rest of us

  18. Joshua Stowers says:

    The Windows Phone 7 is nothing like the iPhone. This is a unique operating system, but I’m not sure it’s the OS we’ve been waiting for. People are slanted towards Android right now, in part because it doesn’t feel like a phone. It’s closer to a mini-computer than anything else. Having used (but not owned) the Windows Phone, I think it’s a pleasure to use, more enjoyable than iOS or Android. Of the three I say Android is the best OS, my preference is the Windows phone, as I don’t need as complex a machine as Android offers. iPhone is for those Apple fans, and people who follow the fad.

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