Microsoft exec “[People] don't know about Windows Phone and that's a problem we intend to fix”

As the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (MPC) in Toronto continues, Windows Phone 8 made a brief appearance today for the 16,000 people who showed up for the annual conference. In fact, anecdotal evidence from attendees suggests Windows Phone has a rather large presence at the conference.

As far as we know, no new features were presented but instead Microsoft focused on the new Start screen, being “business ready” and integration with Microsoft’s services, including Xbox 360 and Windows 8.

One of the most important signals that Microsoft is shifting strategy is the recognition that “Windows Phone” just doesn’t have the same brand recognition as Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android (or perhaps its reputation preceded it). We saw this demonstrated with “Lumia” trending higher than “Windows Phone” in Google searches. Now, Microsoft seems to have recognized this problem and is looking to take it on with Windows Phone 8.

WP Central

Gruhler at WPC'12 in Toronto talking about Windows Phone 8

Speaking at the event, Microsoft’s new corporate vice-president of Windows Phone marketing, Thom Gruhler, who took the position just a few months ago, is quoted as saying:

“Smartphone users today don't know about Windows Phone and that's a problem we intend to fix”

Indeed that is something that needs to be addressed as Android and iPhone are today synonymous with smartphone users (even Blackberry still has clout). We’ve heard earlier in a private meeting with Microsoft pre-Summit that Microsoft will be pushing Windows Phone 8 very hard come the fall and that they are re-focusing on the reboot of the OS with a lot of attention.

The recent launch of the Nokia Lumia 900 on AT&T did do a lot for familiarizing consumers with Windows Phone—it seems to carry more weight these days—and that brand familiarity may be the ground work for Windows Phone 8 (and Nokia) to be a success. The important takeaway for us is that Gruhler is looking to shift how Microsoft markets Windows Phone and he could represent an important change within the company. 

We’ll just have to wait and see though if Gruhuler, who came up with Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” campaign can pull it off.

Source: Microsoft 

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Haven't we been saying this from the time it was first revealed in Feb 2010? Could have laid the groundwork already and have Windows 8 come in like the star striker and score the winning goal. Guess we'll see if they actually do come through on this.
  • New guy in charge of the marketing process though. Big difference, imo.
  • That, and I think they knew that since WP8 would be a reboot, they had to straddle the line between being part of the conversation and souring millions more on phones that wouldn't get an update to WP8, though I doubt the majority of WP users care about the update. The path they've chosen means there'll be over 100k apps that run on WP8, which is massive.
  • I definitely give Mr. Gruhler props for the super successful "Can you hear me now?" campaign, but that was selling a carrier's coverage which honestly you can get away with some BS here and there. I do think selling a mobile OS is more difficult, but hey, if they guy can sell, he's supposed to be able to sell anything, right?
  • There's an app for that. (iPhone) where's the beef? (Wendy's) I'm lovin' it (McDonald's) eat fresh (subway) save money, live better (WalMart) a diamond is forever (de beers) just do it (Nike) keeps going and going and going. (energizer) My point mentioning those is, its all about a slogan, that's how you attract people. Get the right one and you hooked your customer. I bet many of you can think of your favorite. Look what a slogan did for iPhones. Everyone thinks apps rule the world because of that one catchy ad. But with WP8 there will be people saying nope no app for that. My phone just does that, it's built in. Here's me quick WP8 slogan. WP8, "its built in"
  • What about something like "it just works".
  • "We're there!" or " I win" or "gotcha beat"
  • "Make mine Metro"
  • "we all win"
  • Thom Grruhler = Captain Obvious.
    They promised huge marketing before WP7 launched. They said the same with the Mango launch. The said it again with "rolling thunder" with Nokia. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • This is much better though every Wp8 Carrier is advertising Windows phone 8 and MS is doing it with Windows 8  and Wp8 and Nokia is doing it with their Pureview Devices. Maybe HTC and Samsung would put more into it
  • Again, believe it when I see it. Let's look at how often Microsoft runs a Windows Phone ad as compared to how often Apple runs their Siri ads. Where's Samuel L. Jackson making dinner with a HTC TITAN || and Zooey Deschanel dancing with a Samsung Focus 2?
  • Please, that Samuel L Jackson and Zooey comm. Were lame. Unrealistic...just think about it. btw, I have 4 fam member with Mrs. Siri and they ignore her.
  • @AdamUCF - You have to read between the lines and from a closed door meeting with MS we had, they are changing strategy with WP8.  It's not just "more more more!" which is pretty much whatever says, it's about technique and how you sell it.  Having a new guy in charge is a big start. Shit, just watch Mad Men and you'll see what I mean ;-)
  • I know I'm sounding like a broken record but so is Microsoft with this sort of talk. How many times will they change strategy and "double down" before something actually changes? I hope you're right but the rest of us haven't been privvy to the closed door meetings and don't have access to beta WP8 bits so it's a bit annoying to see these empty promises trotted out again and again.
    Apple and Google have shown off iOS 6 and Android 4.1 respectively. What's the point in keeping this stuff secret now? I suppose I understand the "release and ship" mentality behind the end-user specific features but developers NEED access to this stuff. WP8 is a much, much larger change than Mango ever dreamed of being and yet we already had a beta running on phones by this point last year. The least they could do is release a locked down emulator and dev tools. What are my apps going to look like on a 720p screen? Not good, I fear. But it's hard to tell without any way of testing. Apple released iOS 6 for developers last month and won't be shipping to end users until right around the time WP8 launches. This is comparatively a much smaller change than WP8 as well. What's Microsoft waiting for? Are they really that far behind in development that they don't have anything stable to release?
  • War are you talking about. No they are far behind in development. They said they will have a sdk after they shown all the features which is likely end of August. They really want to keep the features to themselves at the moment.
  • "They said they will have a sdk after they shown all the features"
    They never said that. I'm expecting it to be like RTM and Mango where not all of the user features were fully shown off when the SDK was made available.
    But at any rate, why not show it off now? Their competitors have shown their hands. Keeping the SDK secret at this point is only at a detriment to their developers.
  • I agree. I feel like I've heard this before the Lumia launch. They need to drop the Windows Phone name I think. It's not catchy and it doesn't draw up images of a new modern fresh OS...what WP really is. They should call it MetroOS
  • well when HTC and Samsung, LG, etc, dont tell users what windows phone is. thats a problem, how is it possible that only ONE oem (nokia) market it and let people know about it? even when i was in Costa Rica visiting my family, I saw tv commercials about nokia Lumia. and when i was watching soccer games in espn, t-mobile 710 commercials.
    the Lumia commercial in CR didn't even say where you could get it (which is a problem, since it wasn't even known which carriers would sell it) but it was there, at least some people got to see it.
    lets hope WP8 changes that, with better hardware and features. but if its again, only nokia marketing it, it will be hard.  
  • Biggest marketing is the carriers. If all the big carriers in the US had Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8 willl be successful.
  • If you can't get manufacturers beside Nokia to advertise or for that matter cellular carriers
    ATT, T-Mobile, & Verizon to advertise with appealing commercials like they do for Apple and Android, then you have to do it yourself. I for one think MS is taking the right approach with the surface and now advertising and if you piss people off along the way, then so be it! Lets face it, PC manufactures are just now starting to get that people want visually appealing devices; 4 years after the iPhone, and x years after mac books. They should wait this long to design sleek devices....why are they mad at MS, they should be angry with themselves
  • Aye!
  • Exactly +1!!
  • While I agree to a point with your comments, you forget to mention that PC manufacturers have been fighting their way to the bottom of the price point.  Do you believe you can sell a Macbook Air for $499?  Uh, no.  PC maufacturers were simply competing aginst each other based on price point.  What Apple has shown the rest of the industry is that a lot of folks (not more than the PC market as a whole mind you) will buy a produc that is visually appealing, with really good build quality.  MS has shown with the Surface it can be done.  We don't know what the offical pricing will be, but  if they can do it, HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, etc should be able to.
  • It doesn't help that you can't walk into most carriers and see a Windows Phone on display. Verizon and Sprint technically carry it but most likely will have to special order. No model available on Virgin, Boost, US Cellular, Cricket, or Metro PCS.
  • They almost screwed it up for me with the whole Lumia 7.8 debacle - luckily I purchased my lumia off contract because I had a feeling something was up.  Sure does leave a bad taste in my mouth to see Microsoft/Nokia purposely screwing over their tiny fanbase by being vague about updates to WP8 to sell more lumias before they announced it wouldn't be getting WP8 - but I'll give them one more chance...
  • Oh give that a REST already
  • +10! Ms needed to get a product to market fast hence wp7. Now they are making a change for the better (3 screens) with w8, wp8 and Xbox. Moving along...
  • +10, you nailed it!  The platform will be greater than the sum of it parts.
  • Is it not a valid point for someone to have? I happen to agree.
  • If anyone leaves a bad taste in your mouth, its Nokia. I'm sure Microsoft informed all manufacturers who made wp7 devices that Apollo's underlying core would be changed from the bottom up. Many of us here need to accept the fact that technology evolves rapidly. I for one upgraded knowing full well my L900 may not receive the apollo update. I will deal with upgrade costs after I see the new offerings.
  •   99% of the world doesn't know or care about the Lumia 7.8 "debacle".
    It's only a "debacle" for a teeny, tiny percentage of a teeny tiny marketshare. It's so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things it's ridiculous. And I am saying this as a Lumia 900 owner.
    For most of those who do know about it, it's somewhat disappointing but not a terrible shock or traumatic experience we'll never recover from.
    For a select few, it's the worst deception since the Nazi's tried to deny the Holocaust, they have PTSD over it and think the entire executive boards of Microsoft and Nokia should stand before an international criminal tribunal to account for what they've done.
    Most people see it for what it is though, a minor disappointment that is unlikely to affect their lives in any meaningful way and which we'll all have forgotten about in a year.   
  • People don't care because they don't know. Nobody wants to be left out of updates that add new features. I sell phones at a major carrier and when I have mentioned the update situation to regular people they have taken that information into consideration when making their purchase. People don't like buying electronics where the value depreciated too quickly (ie. Apple supporting their phones for 3 years after release).
  • The thing is that people don't really buy mobile operating systems. Nobody goes into the store to buy iOS or Android. They buy Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Verizon Droid, Evo, and Nokia Lumia. So this idea that Microsoft really has to market Windows Phone like crazy is wrong headed. Consumers don't care about the OS, they care about the hardware and it's branding. Stop marketing Windows Phone and start putting a ton of money behind individual phone brands like Lumia. HTC needs a flagship windows phone brand. Samsung needs to stop with just the AT&T Focus garbage and either bring the Galaxy brand to Windows or come up with a good windows phone brand that cuts across all carriers like the Galaxy brand.  
  • Agreed - would like to see them take the Surface approach with WP8.
  • Yes. Bring the galaxy brand to wp. And call it a galaxy focus or a omnia focus .Actually that is good names. For it
  • Yes, you definitely need to advertise the OS, especially when NO ONE knows what it can do and why you should buy it. All those "droid does" and 'if you dont have an iphone" ads are advertising the strenghts of those platforms and getting people excited about what they can do with it. For WP which still has virtually no awareness there MUST be a concerted effort to educate people on what the OS can do eg integrated Skype, Live tiles, Office, Windows 8 companion. All this in conjunction with advertising cutting edge hardware is what WP needs, they cant take the approach of apple and google because those are already well known platforms while WP is not.
  • People don't buy the OS. They don't care what the OS can do. Android has the most market share and most Android phone owners don't know they have an Android phone. It was the same way with Symbian phones. People do not think that "Droid" is a reference to Android. People thought Droid was a phone, it's the reason why Motorola Droid sells so well and Motorola Atrix does not. It was "Droid does what iPhone doesn't," not Android does what iOS doesn't. The vast majority of iPhone and iPad owners have never heard of iOS. The fact that Lumia has more brand awareness than Windows Phone is a good thing. Now they need to repeat that Lumia success with an HTC brand and a Samsung brand.
  • People dont know OS's, but they recognize brands. People dont know what iOS is, but they know the iPhone. They dont know the differences between ICS and GB or what they are, but they know Android (and "droid" due to Verizon's marketing). Most people dont use smartphones to their true potential like we do. Most people just want a phone that looks cool and other people have heard of it. What makes Louis Vuitton or Gucci so special? WP doesn't have that. All they see is a boring homescreen and a lack of apps. They have to show off "cool" features and ways it differentiate from the other phones. Like "droid does" and " if you dont have an iPhone"
  • Normal consumers don't care. You aren't going to hold their attention by demonstrating how great One Note is in a commercial.
    You don't see anyone else doing that do you? That's because it's ineffective. Phones are what sell. NOT the OS.
    You can certainly demonstrate a few of the features of the OS as part of selling the phone, but honestly the minute you get even slightly nerdy, detailed or technical, you'll lose 90% of your audience. 
    They just need some hip commercials advertising the phones, and showing people USING some of the features of the OS.
    And don't try to make the commercials like Apple commercials because people will see right through that. They don't want a phone that they percieve as "almost as cool as an iPhone" or "kind of like an iPhone".
    I think the way to position Windows Phone is to demonstrate it's virtues in real world scenarios and to focus on what it does better than Android. There are a ton of people out there who are less than satisified with Android (just check the customer satisifaction numbers if you don't believe me)  Show people how the OS is consistent, smooth, reliable, easy to understand and use. I think poking a little fun at how shitty Android is in all those respects would be a great thing. It will piss off the Android fan boys, but they aren't going to get Windows Phones anyway, and the regular people who have been tolerating Android will see the truth in the criticisms of it.
    I think it would be much more effective than trying to go after Apple, which has naturally limiting  marketshare and an extremely loyal following. The cracks in Android's armor are much more apparent and easy to exploit.  Microsoft should not be shy about ripping Android a new asshole. 
  • +1000000!!
    I've been saying this since they one. First, it's a mouthful to say "I want to get a Windows Phone." You still aren't saying what phone you're getting! People need to say "I'm getting a Lumia" or "I'm getting a (insert mega star phone name here)." The OS will work itself out!
  • Agreed, I think that MS should make there own phone and only allow those like Nokia who are willing to bring cutting edge designs to WP do so; all others like LG, Acer, and Lenovo with there focus knock off design can take a hike!
  • I believe its different this time around. Now MS has a product in WP8 that is ready to compete with and match what IOS and Android has to offer and in many ways is far superior. So now they can go ahead with very aggressive marketing and not have to worry about letting the people who buy WP8 phonesbased on marketing and aderts down.
  • And alot of people think Windows Phone is a form of Android.
  • Blasphemy!
  • LOL If someone ever said that to me, I would shoot them such a dirty look they would never make that mistake again. 
  • Hire more professionals who know more of wp not some newbie
  • Those who know buy the OS, but the average consumer buys the brand - i.e. iPhone, Galaxy, Lumia...
  • Hmmm,,,,Galaxy Metro. How does that sound?
  • Its been slow for sure but WP8 brings so much more and that's just for business. Enterprise would be foolish to dismiss what it will be able to do. We didn't get all the consumer stuff but what I did see looked very promising. In marketing you don't hit grand slams to win. You hit singles, doubles and a homerun now and then. You can't fire off one huge campaign and expect results. Hammer away. Ball(mer)s in your court MS. :)
  • I think you are absolutely right. MS shouldn't go for 1 grandslam,,they should spread it out by getting lots of singles,double and the occasional homerun. Just get people talking about WP8.
  • Well so far Microsoft and OEMs have been hitting pop-flies and those who hit singles stay on base :'(
  • I'm an IT manager with 300+ employees with a MS enterprise agreement. Honestly I think MS should send reps to business to demo the benefits of WP and stop waiting on carriers and the rarely seen commercials to do their work.....pass it along
  • Where as before I think MS knew they where behind the curve and were hesitant in a full on marketing strategy for fear of giving windows phone a bad rep in the minds of average consumers.
  • I agree with you there
  • Wow. Only took 'em, what, 18 months in the field to figure that one out, huh? Bravo. (Slow clapping)
  • What ever. (rolling eyes)
  • + 1