You've seen the proclamations: "Windows Phone is doomed." "…a distant third." "No chance to catch up." Anyone who follows technology sites these days, especially the mainstream US-based ones, have seen those quotes used in news articles and often even in comments. It reflects the slow, but middling growth of Windows Phone, which has never taken off in the US, hovering at just 4% (Kantar, August 2014).
Sure, worldwide Windows Phone fares better, with Italy at 13% and the UK nearly at 10%, but I am not here to sugarcoat the stats. They speak for themselves, and I am not taking issue here with their accuracy or what they mean.
I am more interested in perception, the way people talk about these things because although Windows Phone market share is comparatively small, it says nothing of user satisfaction, which consistently ranks very high, if not the highest, amongst all the operating systems. Although not many people are using Windows Phone, comparatively, those who do are enjoying the experience, both for hardware and software. That is something not easily dismissed. Now, if Microsoft had little market share and the users hated the devices and the OS experience that I think would be worthy of media Schadenfreude, but I digress.
Apple users react to lower market numbers
One of the more interesting stories in 2014 is Android's continued dominance in the smartphone world, which is undeniable at nearly 80%, according to a recent IDC report. Android is doing so well, especially in emerging markets that it is eating into Apple's share, which IDC thinks will drop from 14.9% in 2014 to 13.7% in 2018 (IDC predicts Windows Phone to almost double in the same time to a still low 6.4%). This prediction is hardly "the sky is falling" but still, the once mighty iPhone is slowly becoming – wait for it – a distant second to Android.
Why do I bring this up? Perception, the way people talk about things.
I came across an old article on MacDailyNews reacting to those IDC numbers. In it, I found the single most arrogant, pretentious, and elitist reaction to Android's continued growth, and Apple's decline:
"Apple does not chase market share. Apple develops world-class products that delight users. One Apple customer is worth more than a gaggle of those who settle for poor imitations of Apple products." – MacDailyNews, 5/28/2014
Evidently, market share is not significant to Apple. Therefore, if you were to offer Apple's CEO Tim Cook 15% of the smartphone market or 40%, he would shrug his shoulders in indifference. That is awesome. Now, in fairness, Apple does make an enormous amount of money off that 15% market and apparently, after the media fawning this week at the iPhone 6 reveal, they still have the US media licking their boots.
Nevertheless, remember, I am less interested in what Apple wants versus perception, the way people react.
Did you see how MacDailyNews turned a slowly losing battle against Android into a win for them? It does not matter what the market numbers are because Apple does not "chase market share." Instead, they make "world-class products that delight users" and "One Apple customer is worth more than a gaggle" of Android fans.
That, my friends, is some hubris. Mind you, this is not a defense only for the iPhone. Even after years of successful MacBook sales, OS X still only commands around 8% of the PC market (NetMarketShare, 2014), and there too you hear the same rhetoric: "market share does not matter; Apple products are just better."
(Mind you, I am not saying all Apple users think or feel this way, far from it, and I don't mean to demean Apple, whom I think make excellent products. But that attitude expressed above is the stereotype that I feel often applies, at least when discussing the age old debate "which is better?", to some of the most adherent Apple fans. Maybe I am wrong, but this is all besides the point.)
This leads me to…
Windows Phone users need to adopt this strategy
If you noticed above, I called the quote from MacDailyNews "the single most arrogant, pretentious, and elitist reaction." I stand by that, but I also see the genius in it. It's fine, my brain can handle the cognitive dissonance.
However, if Apple users can take that position, why not Windows Phone users?
I am not necessarily calling for a grassroots movement here, but it would be tongue-in-cheek enjoyable to see the following in comments for news articles on Windows Phones. You know, the kind where the reviewer begrudgingly enjoys the evaluation Windows Phone unit but bemoans the app-gap and market share, telling users to pass. Just imagine seeing this as a reaction:
"Microsoft does not chase market share. Microsoft develops world-class products that delight users. One Microsoft customer is worth more than a gaggle of those who settle for poor imitations of Microsoft products."
Is it ridiculous? Absolutely. However, in many ways, it does reflect how Windows Phone users feel about their experience, and if Apple fans can use the strategy to defend low-performing market share, I see no reason those with a Windows Phone cannot say the same in response. Moreover, I mean, it is somewhat funny to turn the tables, no?
Don't worry though, you do not have to buy a turtleneck sweater now or shop at Whole Foods Market.