Microsoft Lost The Smartphone Game Because It Never Cared Enough
Microsoft was one of the first to market with a smartphone as we know it today. That's important in the context of what has happened since.
Whilst Google and, particularly, Apple have forged their own path through the new post-PC era, Microsoft spent too much time looking over its shoulders at what competitors were doing instead of focusing on the reason why it was in the smartphone game.
Windows Phone 7, when it launched, offered a truly different way of looking at a mobile platform but Microsoft failed to sell the platform to customers or developers; then watered down its vision with each upgrade in an attempt to draw support in.
The only problem being that nobody needed or wanted a hybrid version of iOS and Android from Microsoft.
Nokia's switch to Windows Phone briefly looked like it would breathe life into the platform, sales improved, especially in Europe and South America. The company understood the mobile phone business, even if it had blown its own by hanging on to Symbian for too long.
The combination briefly made Windows Phone the platform for users interested in taking better pictures. But having been handed a golden opportunity to give users a reason to switch platforms Microsoft completely failed to embrace it. There were no updates to the platform which focused on imaging and no follow up to the landmark Lumia 1020.
The Lumia 930 / 1520 / 950 all moved the overall quality of smartphone photography on - to the point where the 950 is still the best camera phone you can
buy use today.
Yet talk to anybody about smartphone cameras and it is the iPhone or the Pixel which will dominate the conversation.
Microsoft didn't care about winning in the smartphone market enough to take its one major advantage, its most unique selling point and it's real differentiator and build a campaign around it.
The reason? Under Steve Ballmer it wasn't seen as a selling point to the compaany's big enterprise customers and under Satya Nadella the will and desire to be in the game wasn't there and the opportunity wasn't recognised.
It's a missed opportunity which I believe will have major repercussions for Microsoft's long-term business.