Windows Phone 8 an iPhone killer?

The software giant has long struggled to break into the smartphone market, but its new operating system is winning rave reviews.

By Oct 30, 2012 10:19AM

Getty ImagesMicrosoft (MSFT) unveiled Windows Phone 8 at a conference in San Francisco on Monday, its latest effort to break into a smartphone market dominated by Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and Google's (GOOG) Android.

WP8 boasts a bevy of improved features, including better synchronization with other Microsoft products, an updated home screen that features Windows Phone's trademark "live tiles," and access to 46 of the 50 most popular apps. WP8 will be featured on smartphones manufactured by Nokia, Samsung, and HTC, and will be sold by carriers T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T.

WP8 is already receiving positive reviews, though that's no guarantee of commercial success. Previous versions of the phone were well received, and Microsoft still commands a paltry 3% of the smartphone market.

Can WP8 become an iPhone killer? 

It certainly has some great features, says the BBC:

[Microsoft] boasted that the system's internet browser, Internet Explorer 10, was the fastest on any mobile, and also suggested it offered the closest integration with video chat app Skype...
The firm also showed off Kid's Corner — a function designed for parents who give their handsets to their children to play with. It allows them to restrict access to a limited number of apps without giving access to email, phone call, or text message functions...
Another new feature is Rooms which allows users to create an invitation-only environment in which members share their calendars, notes, photos and other material. The firm suggested it might be used to help families, sports teams and other community groups stay "in sync".

However, WP8 still suffers from a lack of popular apps, says Steve Kovach at Business Insider:

As beautiful and accessible as Windows Phone 8 is, its app ecosystem pales in comparison to what you can find on the iPhone and Android. There's no Instagram. No Dropbox. No Pandora. And because of the relatively small number of Windows Phone users out there, developers almost always choose to make the latest and greatest apps for Android and iOS first. Windows Phone is an afterthought for many developers, if they're even thinking about it at all...
The sad part is, it won't be as good as it can be unless people start using it and developers decide to develop for it. But consumers go where the apps are and app developers go where the consumers are. It's a big chicken/egg problem for Microsoft and it still hasn't found a good reason to make you choose Windows Phone 8 over the competition.

And smartphone users may be locked into the phones they have, and reluctant to switch to the unique experience WP8 offers, says Roger Cheng at CNET:

One of the challenges is its unique user interface, which includes live tiles and bold fonts in the place of a grid of app icons. Microsoft is proud of its ability to stand out from Android and iPhone, calling this the new way of using a smartphone.
"We wanted to reinvent the smartphone around you," said Joe Belfiore, general manager of the Windows Phone program for Microsoft, on multiple occasions during the presentation.
But different means getting past the consumers' perceptions and assumptions for how a smartphone works, which hasn't always worked out so well for Microsoft and its partners.

(Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

More from The Week

Oct 30, 2012 11:21AM

I keep hearing that Windows Phone lacks important apps but nobody names them? There's over 120,000 WP apps and every dtudy I've seen says the top 100 are available or there is a substitute that available that's better or equal to what anybody needs. WP8, and WP7.5, do offer a new modern user interface that's more integrated and simplistic than legacy icons from desktop environments. It takes about 15 minutes to learn WP8 and then you'll say why was I doing it that old way all this time.  Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are not Vista folks they are Windows 7 with a modern mobile interface and there's a whole Microsoft ecosystem from Office 365, SkyDrive and XBox that all Microsoft devices can use.

Oct 30, 2012 5:02PM
apps apps apps...  The apps will come but the basic function of the phone is what matters and it is a very capable mobile platform without adding a bunch of junk apps.  Why do reviewers continue to treat quantity of apps like its a number that adds any value to an efficient mobile device.  Quality is what matters and if they have the most useful apps, and most popular then who cares.  Are we talking about a phone or a gameboy here.
Oct 30, 2012 12:59PM
my Prayers are with everyone who is affected by this storm, hope that it all ends very soon
Oct 30, 2012 3:40PM
App count is the biggest misconception a smart phone buyer can make. WP8 looks amazing and learning this new OS is a breeze. You'll understand it completely after a day or two. It's laughable with articles suggest that people can't learn to use a new Phone OS. The problem is too many people compare WP to Apple's IOS or Google's Android. This is neither of these products its actually better and you should give this layout a try before you pass judgment. I've been a WP7 user since it launched and I won't look back. WP is a great experience you just have to give it a chance.
Oct 30, 2012 9:40PM
I wish I had a nickel for every knucklehead that comes out with a headline "the iPhone killer". Try original, form your very own thought if that's possible, you'll love the satisfaction you get.
Oct 31, 2012 1:00AM
Popular apps matter, but beyond that, it doesn't matter that much. Get a good 'Top 100' and you're set. Microsoft doesn't have that just yet, but they're getting there. Building off WP7s apps means not starting from square one this time around.
Oct 31, 2012 12:59AM
Could have swore I saw Pandora during the WP8 reveal. Might want to double check that one.
Oct 30, 2012 6:23PM
WP is great.....been using it since the intro and will never use a non windows phone again. Plenty of apps, ease of use is outstanding and fun. Interfaces with Outlook and I can't live without SkyDrive. Just a cool functional mini computer with a phone. Thanks Microsoft. Now looking forward to Surface.
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