At some point soon third place in the platform market will become as irrelevant as fourth. The market will firmly crystallise around two choices: Apple or
In order to capture as large a percentage of the new buyers market as possible Windows Phone OEMs are racing to the bottom of the price vector. Not a bad marketing choice, WP8 offers a reasonably good experience even on limited hardware and new users are probably going to be very happy with their new devices.
But what about when they aren't new users anymore?
The reduced price of these phones comes at the cost of functionality. Memory is limited to 512MB and storage to 4GB - around 1GB available to the end user.
These cuts mean that newer Xbox Live games - a key selling point for the platform - won't work. Several larger applications refuse to install and when more than a handful of apps are installed that storage soon disappears.
Those new users will soon bump up against these problems and after doing a little research will find that their phones have been misrepresented to them. Additional storage that doesn't support installing apps. Memory allocation that was never sufficient to run the more complex apps. Its not going to go down well. Microsoft must have known this before handing out minimum specs to the likes of HTC, Huawei and Nokia.
If Microsoft are lucky their customers will blame the OEM and jump to one of the other WP handsets. More likely they'll blame Microsoft and Windows and abandon the platform completely.
That doesn't bode well for the long term future of Windows Phone. Especially after Microsoft abandoned WP7 early adopters last year.
Given how hard that Microsoft is having to work to win each Windows Phone sale, its not doing a great job of keeping them.