Mobile World Congress has revealed several key elements of Microsoft’s Windows Phone strategy pushing forward. First off is the reduction of its currently strict minimum requirements in order to reach segments of the market it previously had no place in.
Now we have also learned that Windows Phone is on its way to 23 new countries such as China, Venezuela, and Thailand, just to name a few. This new move brings Microsoft’s mobile platform to 63 countries across the globe.
It makes even more sense that Windows Phone lowered its requirements, after all with its previous hardware specs it would have been very difficult to provide a phone that would be affordable to developing markets after all.
I’ve said this in the past, but I truly believe that Microsoft’s future with Windows Phone lays just as much in the developing markets as it does in major markets like the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Part of this reason is that its strongest partner for WP, Nokia, is still the OS champion most of the developing world with its Symbian OS. By leveraging its partnership with Nokia, MS could possibly reach out to these markets, appealing to customers that wish to upgrade their Symbian/Nokia devices to WP/Nokia devices.
The problem with this strategy before was that Microsoft’s WP had rather high minimum requirements and so Android actually was starting to have more appeal in markets like India, for example.
The big question is whether or not it is too late to compete against Android in these emerging markets. My best guess would be that now is a perfect time, after all many Symbian users are just now starting to consider additional options as their handsets age.
I also want to point out that with lower-spec Android devices (the kind that market for $40-$80 in India and the like) have much more market issues and fragmentation than Windows Phone is reported to have with its lower-spec devices. This could be an important fact to consider for those looking for a low-cost device that will have the most application support ‘bang’ for the buck.
Microsoft has also clarified that its overall strategy is somewhat based on the idea that there are many Android users out there across the globe, but many of these are not Android ‘lovers’, they just went with it because it was what they could afford and had easy access to. This is the crowd that Microsoft hopes to entice with Windows Phone 7.5.
What do you think of Windows Phone when compared against Android? Which do you prefer? Is it too late for Microsoft to overtake Android across the globe or is the time just right with Windows 8 on its way later this year? Share your thoughts below.