Today is launch day for Windows Phone 7 in the UK – but the hoped-for crowds of people waiting to buy the new phone failed to appear.
They are billed as the handsets that could topple the iPhone. Yet as Microsoft’s Windows 7 phones went on sale this morning there was not a queue in sight.
reported the London Evening Standard.
The device also suffered faint praise from the influential Wall Street Journal reviewer Walt Mossberg. Although he called the user interface “novel and attractive”, he complained about missing features:
Microsoft has inexplicably omitted from Windows Phone 7 key features now common, or becoming so, on competitive phones. These missing features include copy and paste, visual voicemail, multitasking of third-party apps, and the ability to do video calling and to use the phone to connect other devices to the Internet. The Android phones and the iPhone handle all these things today.
I couldn’t find a killer innovation that would be likely to make iPhone or Android users envious, except possibly for dedicated Xbox users.
Is he right? In some ways it does not matter; perception is reality. That said, none of his missing features strike me as deal-breakers for a majority of users. You can also argue that Microsoft has learnt from Apple not to put every possible feature into the first release, but rather to make the features it does implement work as well as possible and to build on that in the future.
The problem is that there is so much momentum around Google Android and Apple iPhone that the average consumer looking for a smartphone will need a lot of persuading before paying out for Windows Phone 7, or even really noticing it. Microsoft needed rave reviews, not so-so ones. There is a danger that the new phone may suffer the same fate as Palm’s webOS devices, well liked by those who take the trouble to explore them, but absent from the mainstream of consumer consciousness.
I’ve had a device for a few days, and it has been favourably received by people I’ve shown it to. Some of the games look great – The Harvest, for example, a Microsoft exclusive. The Facebook integration is also appealing to fans of that site, and feels deeper than Facebook apps on other devices. Windows Phone 7 does have distinctive features.
I’ll be reviewing the device properly in due course. What is more interesting than my opinions though is how the phone is received in the market. I had expected more interest from the curious on day one of retail release.
Update: Microsoft found a queue or two for its press release today. Big in Australia?