Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Friday, February 11, 2011

Microsoft & Nokia: Windows Phone 7 vs. Android vs. iOS

Now, it would be cool if they actually used this logo.
Two foundering giants have found each other and bonded in cross-cultural matrimony to create a serious competitor in the race for smartphone dominance. Nokia announced today that it's dropping its Symbian operating system over the next year or two, and going full speed ahead with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 as its smartphone OS of choice. Nokia plans to have its first device out by the end of this year, with high volume in 2012.

The partnership makes a great deal of sense for both parties. Nokia's been watching its smartphone market share crumble, despite rather nifty hardware. They could never get their act together on software and interface and an ecosystem. Evidence of this was their efforts to get the N-Gage going, which was just kind of sad.

Meanwhile, Microsoft desperately needs Windows Phone 7 to get moving.

Microsoft's smartphone marketshare continued to decline in the 4th quarter, dropping to 8.4 percent in December (down from 9.9 percent in September). Since Windows Phone 7's debut in September, Microsoft confirmed on January 26 that they have now sold 2 million phones.. .to retailers, not customers. Which works out to around 500,000 a month. That may sound like a lot, but not in a world where iPhones are being sold at a rate of 500,000 every 4 days, and Android phones are selling 500,000 every 3 days or even less.

Microsoft has been successful at getting a storefront up and running, and selling some games at least. The most successful game is Fruit Ninja, which has sold in the high tens of thousands at $3 apiece. Microsoft has been trying to attract developers and has just announced a program to buy Windows Phone 7 handsets without contracts, so developers can get a device to work with. Oddly, though, their price is higher than what you can get the phone for sans contract from AT&T. Brilliant.

What does all this mean for game developers? A significant new market supported by a company that actually has experience working with game developers. Nokia will be selling Windows Phone 7 handsets around the world; they are the largest cellphone maker in the world, after all. Nokia will find ways to hit all the market segments they can. Microsoft will take over the Ovi store duties, so  you won't have to worry about that. You can expect some pretty powerful hardware from Nokia, and now it will have a slick interface and some interesting cross-platform links (hello, Xbox Live!).

Windows Phone 7, at the stroke of a pen, has been transformed from a nice idea into a real competitor. Sure, it'll be well behind at the start, but by 2012 it should be significant enough to be worthy of strong support (and there's always some advantages to early support... heck, Fruit Ninja has shown that already). Now we'll have a three-way race between iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7. HP has a shot with WebOS, though they will need to line up some serious marketing and partnerships in order to get anywhere in a crowded field.

Which leaves poor old Blackberry to shrivel on the vine... unless maybe they get smart and partner up with someone... hello, HP? Have I got a deal for you...

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