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Viewing Windows phone in the proper context

Editor's note: In light of yesterday's earning report and the less-than-ideal revenue numbers for Windows Phone, we are re-running this earlier editorial and analysis from November.

Sure Redmond is still making smartphones. And yes their mobile OS will be continually improved and utilized on first-party and partner OEM hardware. And let's not forget Redmond's cross-platform app deluge. Yes, Microsoft is everywhere.

However, despite these commitments, Microsoft is no longer pitting its mobile phone efforts head-to-head against its rivals. Microsoft has strategically withdrawn from the mass market and is no longer targeting general smartphone consumers with its devices. Given that for the past five years, general consumers have by-passed Microsoft's mobile offerings a more refined approach toward a clearly defined audience was determined to be appropriate.

"In the near term, we will run a more effective phone portfolio, with better products and speed to market. We'll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they'll love." – Nadella July 8, 2015

Indeed, things are different now. The context for Microsoft's smartphone story has changed. To remain in sync with this current stage of Redmond's mobile strategy, how we writers, industry watchers, and enthusiasts narrate that story, moderate the discourse, facilitate a dialogue and measure success must change accordingly.

We can't continue with business as usual.

Same old story

The year was 2007. The place was San Francisco. The product was the iPhone. The target: consumers. This was the first strike in what would become the smartphone war for the consumer space. In 2008, Google answered with Android and the HTC G1. Three years after Apple's initial strike, in 2010, Microsoft re-entered the fray with Windows Phone 7. This lightweight, touch-friendly, Metro-style OS and UI relinquished the weight of its stylus-dependent, enterprise-focused predecessor.

Unfortunately, this refresh brought little success to Microsoft's mobile endeavors. Still, it was the early days of Windows Phone, and Nokia/Microsoft were confident. In 2012, Nokia/Microsoft introduced the Lumia 900 with the tagline, "The smartphone beta test is over." This was a snarky "in your face" attack on all rivals in the space.

Like leaflet propaganda during wartime, this media blitz was designed to alter consumer perception of rival smartphone options in favor of Microsoft's offering.

It didn't work.

The war raged on, and Windows Phone still has not grabbed mass consumer appeal.

Furthermore, despite the presence of most core apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, the lack of popular apps like SnapChat or poor support for existing apps have kept consumers away from the platform.

Consequently, Windows Phone has never claimed much more than 3% of the industry's global share. Additionally, the ever-present "chicken before the egg conundrum" has kept much-needed developers from helping to resolve this app-gap issue. Thus, reviews and analysis' have echoed the same mantra since 2010; Microsoft has been fighting a losing battle with Windows Phone.

This is the story writers, analysts, blog post commenters and forum participants have told and retold over the years. This was the narrative surrounding Microsoft's efforts as they strove for relevance in the general smartphone consumer space. Assessments of their success or failure have consequently been tied to measures such as market share and units sold per quarter in comparison to rivals in that space.

They are, however, no longer in that space. Therefore, we need a new rubric.

New Measures

As a former educator, I used a scoring rubric, which is a standard of performance for a specific population. Because there are different expectations for fifth-grade and third-grade classes, the rubric applied to fifth graders would differ from that applied to third graders.

Because Microsoft is now focusing their smartphone efforts on three distinct markets, we must apply a new rubric that reflects accurate measurements of success or failure based upon goals set within that new context.

Microsoft's refined markets are:

  • Fans
  • Enterprise
  • Value Consumers

To complicate things just a tad, Microsoft will likely re-enter the mainstream market with a convergent phone/tablet device that could be the highly anticipated Surface Phone.

With these two factors in mind our new paradigm for assessing Microsoft's smartphone success should consider the following:

  • How is Microsoft performing in relation to satisfying the needs and expectations of its three target markets?
  • How are the development of the Windows 10 platform and other aspects of the Microsoft ecosystem progressing toward the company's likely goal of a late 2016 debut of a convergent device?

Old measures such as comparing units sold per quarter and market share percentages between rivals are no longer directly relevant. The direct rivalry is no longer the context in which Microsoft's efforts exists. Its new focus will yield a decreasing market share as the firm's target market is smaller. This same fact will, of course, yield a smaller number of units sold.

A closer look

As we endeavor to continue telling Microsoft's story, we now have the responsibility of aligning our minds with what measures would now denote success for Redmond; while keeping an astute eye on the mainstream smartphone war where the measures of success for those players has not changed.

Some writers may find it challenging to speak on both particularly within the context of a single piece where inclusion of multiple platforms is common. But to maintain the integrity of the narrative, it is necessary.

Below are some quick thoughts to consider when evaluating Redmond's streamlined approach. Note, Microsoft's success is evaluated in relation to measures associated with their specific targets.

Under this new paradigm, comparisons to rivals are less relevant.

Fans

  • Are fans receptive of the new devices?
  • How have fans responded to purchasing phones off-contract through Microsoft retail?
  • How are fans reviewing the devices?

Enterprise

  • Are enterprise customers adopting Windows Phone?
  • Has there been enterprise growth since the shift to focusing on this demographic?
  • How well are Windows Phones integrating into existing enterprise infrastructure?
  • Are users acclimating well to Windows Phone?

Value

  • Are budget consumers responding to Microsoft's offering?
  • Are consumers retaining their low-end Windows phones?

Road back to the mainstream

I believe that Microsoft will be re-entering the general smartphone war with a convergent device by Q4 2016. The firm's progress toward that goal is a measure of success that should be considered. Thus, analysis, device and OS reviews and general dialogue in forums and blog comments should take this point into consideration.

One major factor in the realization of that convergent device is Continuum. Moreover, the Lumias 950/XL are Redmond's first phones to showcase the potential of this platform feature.

"Many countries are mobile-only countries. I don't want to be mobile-only. I want to be mobile-plus. This is a mobile-plus device to me. It will really help us expand even what is considered today mobile." - Nadella October 6, 2015.

As I shared previously, Redmond is attempting to shift the industry toward a convergent device paradigm. Nadella's admission that Continuum on a phone will help to expand what is considered mobile supports this claim. The Lumia 950/XL are an iterative step toward a convergent mobile device that will be a phone, mini-tablet, and a PC via Continuum.

Thus, how the industry assesses Continuum's place in Microsoft's current story toward convergence is an important point to evaluate. Questions to consider over the next year as we talk about the new Lumias, Windows 10 and Microsoft's ecosystem are:

  • How is Continuum being utilized?
  • Is Microsoft taking steps toward bringing Continuum to value phones? (Important for emerging markets)
  • How reliable is Continuum over a wireless connection and why isn't Microsoft marketing the wireless connection?

An additional point to consider is Microsoft's relationship with OEM partners. These partners, though few, are still players in the mainstream smartphone space. How Microsoft nurtures these relationships over the next year will be critical to Redmond's presence in the broader space in the future.

Finally, Microsoft's success or failure with winning developers to the App Bridges is critical to the platform's success. Assessments of the firm's efforts in that regard are indeed relevant.

The pen is mightier than the sword

Professional writers have a special burden. There is an inherent level of respect given by most readers in deference to a writers specialized knowledge, analytical abilities and ability to communicate complex issues effectively.

Type Cover with Fingerprint ID

Type Cover with Fingerprint ID

Tech writers must, therefore, be cognizant of industry shifts that affect how we will analyze the industry as a whole or a component thereof. Failure to do so may result in our telling the "same old story" when the paradigm has shifted.

Information presented in the incorrect context could lead readers in the wrong direction.

For example, any review of the Lumia 950/XL should in my opinion, present the context in which the device is positioned by Microsoft. It is a device for the fans, not the mass market. The provision of that information gives clear context for any additional dialogue that a writer may add regarding the devices potential or lack thereof to entice users of rival platforms.

By being given the proper context, a reader won't be unintentionally led to conclude that the Lumia's failure to entice non-Windows fans is a result of Microsoft's failed attempt to lure them. That's the old Windows Phone story.

The 950/XL fit within the paradigm of how they appeal to fans and, as representatives of new technologies, how they affect Microsoft's multi-layered track back into the mainstream.

The measure of success

On October 6, 2015, Nadella shared the following during an interview with the Verge.

"…a change in Microsoft where we no longer talk about the lagging indicators of success, which is revenue, profit. What are the leading indicators of success? Customer love. There's actually a way to measure it. It's called NPS, Net Promoter Score."

NPS is a customer loyalty metric. It is this measure that Microsoft is applying to determine its success with its fans, enterprise and value consumers. Nadella stressed that getting an entire organization to fall in love with these indicators is the biggest driver of success.

Microsoft's CFO Amy Hood reiterates:

"I think we're not focused on what that growth will look like and should look like. We're focused on doing it in a smart way. And we're focused on the people who love our products and our experience."-Hood November 18, 2015

As writers, analysts and industry watchers I believe it prudent that we embrace that these are the leading indicators for success driving Microsoft within their new approach to the smartphone space. Whether the content we produce is Microsoft, Android or iPhone focused if Microsoft's smartphone story is being told it should be told within its new more refined context where the old measures, for now, no longer apply.

Out of Sync

As a kid, I was a fan of the Saturday afternoon Kung Ku Matinee. My family and I would watch incredible feats of beautifully choreographed martial arts. The dialogue, however, was not as artfully rendered. The English voices that were dubbed over the original dialect were comically out of sync with the action.

If we in the industry embrace the new position Microsoft has in the smartphone industry with all of the inherent changes that entail, we can all realign our rubrics and continue the narration of Microsoft's tale on one accord.

Failure to do so, however, can result in a narrative that is horribly out of sync with what is actually happening in the industry. Readers who are trusting our analysis deserve better than that.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

567 Comments
  • Thanks for reading! It is important to consider that Microsoft is no longer competing directly in the smartphone war against its rivals. So as we engage in dialogue about the new Lumia's and Windows 10 Mobile on phone we must be careful not to draw on old measures of determining Microsoft's level of success in mobile. The company's new position calls for new measures. This I believe is a temporary position. As previous pieces and this piece indicate this period of retrenching is providing a foundation for a powerful re-entry into space with what I believe will be a convergent device. At that time measure involving comparisons to rivals will again be relevant as Microsoft will have re-entered the space. Let's talk!
  • I agree it's the right move to stop targetting the mass market by pitching Windows 10 Mobile simply as "another Android/iOS" and I agree that Microsoft seems to have realized that. I'm glad about that. Microsoft needs to find its niche for the mobile OS and build on that and try to make that succesful. They did with this Surface, even after many people thought the tablet market was more or less firmly in the hands of Apple and Google and of course after people thought Surface would remain a failure.
  • The difference was that even with the almost 1 billion writedown, MS did not give up and kept introducing new Surfaces withe one better that the last one in all respects and it always looked premium... With Mobile, after writing down the Nokia acquisition, they fired most of the team, the same did not happen with Surface. They are producing less of it and pricing it expensive but the phones don't look that premium. and couple that with the the consition of the WP10 beta software, its a bad deal all around... I am sure they would love to get more marketshare, but they have given up the fight and will look at just enterprise to keep them relevant. If they can give great deals/bundles on Xbox while reducing the prices, why can't they do the same with WP. Reduce the price and increase the bundles... hopefully it increases the marketshare... Or atleast keeps it there...
  • The Nokia team was much larger than the Surface team. I think with Panos Panay now in charge we will see changes to the look and feel of the phones. The Lumia 950 (XL) are not ugly, though, they just don't look very special. If I had the money and was interested in them, I wouldn't mind their average look. As for Windows 10 Mobile, while it works fast and smooth now (at least on my phone) I agree it lacks some final polish it should have. However, it's not like there won't be software updates. Of course there was a time where all that seemed to matter was market share but I think Microsoft has realized that for now, fighting for market share alone is a lost battle. So, in that sense, they may have given up that fight but I think it was the sensible thing to do. Though I do think they should make efforts not to lose the higher market shares they have built up in Europe.
  • A lot of Nokia people who were let go were in manufacturing, and other efforts not directly related to designing phones. The surface team is made up of people who just design tablets, they don't have app makers, manufacturing process, or factory workers.
  • Doesn't all this mean that Microsoft may have just one device for a phone? Like lets say, a Surface Phone. That will be it. A Flagship device.
  • No. Just like there isn't really one Surface 4 or Surface Book, there won't be only one Phone. They may share the same name (like all the Lumia phones share the same "name"), but there should be different variations between the phones, there just won't be as many variations as before (the number of low-end phones pumped out by MS didn't help themselves or Windows Phone, and that shouldn't have happened... You don't win a war by flooding the market with "trash"...) With MS's focus on three categories of users (fans/enthusiasts, business, value users), there should be 3 equally relevant phone categories (high-end, mid-range, low-end/value), and only one phone for each category. I'd personally name them something like 7xx as low-end, with specs to match, 8xx for the mid-range, designed with business in mind, and 9xx for the high-end, designed more like a phablet, with enough similarities and differences between the 8xx and 9xx to drop the XL moniker. They could even do away with the current naming scheme and come up with something new for the new phones.
  • Satya chose the worst possible time to announce his mobile strategy retrenching right before the launch of W10M.  The message he sent to industry is confusing and sounds like an admission of defeat.  'MS has given up' message has been quoted from many writers.  Users and developers were all discouraged and started to look for way out.  There were basically no phones, except L640, for sale during the good part of last year.  Now we see the result.  Tom Warren's 'Windows Phone is Dead' article concluded the industry's feeling for WP. The industry and users are careless about MS' mobile strategy shift.  They will continue evaluateing the WP performance by the reported results.  I doubt that Jason Ward can change their minds to re-measure things differently.  The important things are depending on what MS would do.  Will they continue to release advanced phones to satisfy fans?  Will Surface phone matter?  Will they indeed release phones to satisfy business/enterprises?   How fast can UWP apps grow if it grows?  Will they bring the Continuum support to the lower ranged phones?  What is the definition for 'value' customers?  Will mid-range customers count?  These are the things how I 'measure' MS' mobile strategy.  I'm a fan.  If they quit releasing new phones based on SD820 or SD830, I won't be satisfied.   Surface phone sounds like a phone designed for business/enterprise.  The so-called convergent device is a big unknown at this time.  It creates more questions than answers.
  • But in ways he had to. The 950 and XL could have been released in May 15 with 8.1 on board. But then they would have run into a dead end for Continuum etc. These new phones, supposedly the last of the Lumia line are just as much placeholders a anything. Frankly, I love my 950. As Windows 10 Mobile grows, so does the performance of my phone. Windows Phone fans are passionate, if not patient. I ask sticking it out because I love the platform. The Windows Phone is dead articles miss the point. Plus, they have all been written before. Yawn.
  • Sorry, but Satya's new "strategy" is no strategy at all--it's surrender. He never wanted the Nokia purchase, and has seen to it that it fails. Let's just be honest here. I mean, if Satya thinks that developers are going to develop for a platform with 1% market share in phones, then he's delusional. It's just not going to happen. Windows Phone is dead, and Satya Nadella is the assassin. He killed it through neglect.
  •     Its not dead, its on life support. Will be another blackberry, same strategy- Less trow **** at the ceiling and see if it sticks!  when they first released the 9xx and 1020 phones, people were excited, the phones were nice, diferent, reliable and durable, the software was for most part ok-- but no apps. They promised the world and people bought the phones. Fast forward to today- phones are nothing especial, outdated if anything, software still same, still unfinished, they managed to remove features while adding very few the masses need/use, and apps are the same or worst, first party apps basic compared to other O/S, they own apps work better and have more features on the other O/S's compraed to wm10. Still missing MAJOR apps like wechat and if wasn't for one amazing developer woul dbe missin many major ones. Cortana was a great idea, was cool to use when first came out, but they managed to screw it so badly was the main reason i left and bought droid phone. Having the stupid thing on a server and not on the phone for even basic things was just stupid decision. No internet or no/bad cell network- no bluetooth commands!!! WTF that does one have to do with the other? Oh,  if you happen to travel outside your country, it will turn itself off and wont reactivate unless you change all your phone setting to that country-- oh yeah, i forgot its only available on a few select countries. Dumbest thing i have EVER seen on a phone. Surface phone will be just another phone with million promises and nothing to show. I hope im wrong, would be great to have 3rd O/S, but if history any indication of the future, we know where thats heading.   Dont even get me started with only selling phones at stores or .ca, who the F*** comes up with this stratagies?    
  • To streamline the WP operation with refocusing is a welcomed move, but to break WP's back is not.  He could have gone ahead to outsource manufacturing, to streamline the phone portfolio, to reduce work force and to re-balance the focuses, but he didn't have to write the whole thing off for WP.  He should give W10M a serious chance.  But his announcement has killed the WP momentum which took years to build.  It was the turning point that reversed the trend from spiralling up to spiralling down.  The dwindling WP sales will drive users and app developers away.  Tencent just announced to stop developing for W10M for the exact reason.  You can change your strategies all you want, but you still need the user base to carry you through.  Now we are entering a very unsettling phase with unknown future.  Frankly, I think that UWP is the only hope for W10M.  That is the only thing we need to measure.  If there are tons of UWP apps coming, there is hope for W10 mobile.  Othewise, No.  It will all up to MS to figure out ways to build up the UWP library.
  • Even if developers go to the trouble to develop these apps... without market share... they won't stay with it long. In other words, Satya's strategy is no strategy at all. It's stupid. It's clear he wants Windows Phone to fail.    
  • Users could care less about what the media says. We know there's a bias to approve anything that Apple does. Posted via the Windows Central App for NES
  • Users SHOULD care less what the media says. But in truth it's unfortunately different. Here in the Netherlands Windows Phone isn't popular. At all. Cause there is no advertising, no product awareness and phone shops don't know much (if anything) about the platform. Windows Phone has always been 'dead' over here. And now people here read the headlines about WP being dead (those stupid Dutch so called tech bloggers literally copied iVerge's headline saying "Windows Phone is dead"!) and going: "see? WP sucks!" For me, I keep using WP until the end of days, no matter what people say.
  • As a fan, you're paying for the bleeding edge tech. The phone has the first iris scanner, unlikely a cheap endeavor.  It uses a vapor chamber for the 810 chip.  It has triple led, all these little things do add up.  Not to mention the crazy screens.  
  • Totally agree. I just wish people could focus more on these positive aspects instead of focussing solely on the negative. But that's the tech-world-state we're living in now. And it sux ballz.
  • No it does not have the first iris scanner. There was already an Android phone out with one.
  • The fujitsu was a prototype while ms already had it planned as per news. There's was also huge and clunky. And it went nowhere with release.
  • Wow, this is a lesson in how to spin bad news. You actually attempted to change the criteria for gauging success when the current one didn't work. What? Lol
  • Are you talking to me? I'm not changing criteria for anything, just saying that success can be measured in different ways for different contexts.
  • He's talking to Microsoft.
  • Success is relative to the strategy applied, whether the strategy is good or not is another story
  • There was a strategy?
  • Yes. MS told us exactly what they were going to do. Now we see the result and we act surprised. Writers have been penning WP obituaries and hit pieces for 5 years. Recent reviewers have said the new phones are great hardware, but like drunks in the liquor store they can't help but toss in caveats that become self-fulfilling prophesy. Guaranteed there will be companies buying bulk and utilizing programs such as the Microsoft SIM and using skype and other p2p calling to do business. Remember the carrier landscape is changing, too.
  • All this wishful thinking.... For years we questioned the way MS handle mobile, and now that they failed, and we were right, we're supposed to be like "let's look at things another way"" to make ourselves feel better.. We're adults, and we shouldn't be looking for a false sense of hope.... I call BS, and that's getting besides the point, and getting is nowhere....
    .......
    The point is that MS has failed it's fans, shareholders, and itself.. We should not make excuses, nor sympathize, with them for their bad business.. That's soft, and naive..
    .......
    MS should be shunned, and held accountable, for their shortcomings.. And, at the time that MS finally makes a worthy product (and market it properly) should we show any faith, or excitement, for their efforts.... This pathetic, overly hopeful, sympathy makes me sick, and it's been going on to long, This community has lost it's edge!
  • +++++
  • Microsoft has not failed its shareholders. You have no right to tell others whether they should be excited about something or not or whether they should sympathize with MS or whatever. That's people's business, not yours.
  • Yes he does and you have the right to ignore it. However, that won't alter the fact that both Microsoft and Blackberry have failed to launch new smartphone platforms to compete with the iPhone as did Nokia and Palm before them. No Smartphone platform that was established before the launch of the iPhone has survived.  Google did not have a legacy platform to hold them back and have won the battle for market share (but not profits of course).    
  •   I love reading this article and would be a good article for all those writers up there who are trapped on the past of windows phone. :D God bless sir. :D I would love to see entry level phones with continuum feature and windows hello. :D
  • That's another issue MS needs to deal with. How many people that might consider the jump to WP will do so having to shell out $600?
  • Fans wont care and neither will business customers.  Also they are still making a budget phone it just wont be able to run continuum. The budget phones are for people who want to test the OS without making a huge investment.  
  • That's just it. They won't lure new users with high end phones when people can just stick with Android or iOS. So if the intent is to draw new people,which it should be, it will be an epic failure. People already know that the OS lacks apps. So new people won't waste money buying even $75 phones to find out they still lack apps. If WP is to succeed they need to get in house devs to create apps people want and need. Not hard to tell what apps are popular. Instead MS leaves it IP to independent devs that create nothing more than web apps that generally suck.
  • I don't believe this is the way to get new people. The best way to get the general public (I believe) is through marketing and having something shiny and new. It feels like Microsoft truly is gearing up to release something special next year and when they have this shiny, new product, you better believe Microsoft will market the hell out of it. And by then, the hope is that a lot of devs will have made a lot of Universal apps or use the bridge tools to port apps from iOS that will be available for this shiny, new product that will have a marketing push behind it in the way most Surface products do. 
  • Let's see what will happens
    That's interesting, but without strong presence in the marketing, tv, radio online etc.. I doubt they can succeed
  • I'm sure they know that too. If they make some mythical Surface phone, Microsoft knows it will be their hail mary and do everything they can to make it successful.
  • Amen  
  • The fans have been wishing and waiting for last 4 years...
  • Doesn't it feel like we're always waiting for something for the next MS phone?
  • I would say that's been more of a recent thing for me because I was pretty happy when Nokia came out with the 920, 1020, and 1520.
  • Sure and that got MS 3% market share. Lol
  • I never said it increased their market share. I was only speaking in terms of waiting for the next thing from MS.
  • Samsung and iPhone users are always waiting for the next one too. You can find articles speculating about the next iPhone the day after the last one was announced, it's universal to be talking about the next gadget. The difference is that Windows phone fans are very vocal in what they want - and narrow minded. If the phone doesn't have the exact features they wanted, if there is any compromise to make someone else happy too, then it's a failure. See 950, many people said they have to have a removable battery and SD card, but then when the phone has a plastic removable cover, people complain about that too.
  • Coming soon syndrome
  • Did you even read the article? He just said the intent ISN'T luring anyone in but keeping the fans where they want to be. Luring will happen with apparantely a convergence device, a Surface Phone - but I guess it will take up to Surface Phone 4 before we see anything different between 2010 and 2020.
  • Thats hardly true as the best apps are third party and MS have tried to add others and offered to fully fund the dev costs. Bob you need to read the article again.  
  • I'm a fan and I care, I desperately want to get the 950XL on contract with EE in the UK, they won't stock it and carphone warehouse won't do early upgrades so I'll have to wait until July to get the phone I want. I just picked up the 640 when my 930 was stolen last week and only then because it's the only Windows Phone EE had in stock. Microsoft should be pushing these phones harder to carriers regardless of if they are just for fans or not.
  • I think Microsoft needs to come up with financing for them.
  • Just an idea - I have previously "bought out" my contract to get a new phone - say you have 6 months left, you can offer to pay off the 6 months but ask them for 33% discount, which they do accept - it's an option to get out at a lower price.
  • And if buy from anywhere else other than EE you won't get WiFi calling!!
    I was hoping for visual voicemail with the 950 on EE but doubt it will be available.
  • O2 has WiFi calling through their TuGo app. Works perfectly with my 640. OK it's separate from main texting and calling apps but still great.
  • O2 will be doing them in UK
  • As the article alludes to, a phone of that cost is probably going to fit in the category of being for fans. It would be a flagship phone that isn't aimed at someone considering Windows mobile as an option versus iOS and Android.
  • $600? http://www.apple.com/shop/buy-iphone/iphone6s I would ask who would pay $649 or $749 to jump to an iPhone 6s (starting at 16gb, and no microsd slot). On other non-iOS front, similar can be said about sepcs vs cost. $600 is not a concern for a device wtih these specs. If you only want to experiment with Windows Phone (cautiously), there are plenty of cheaper devices that arleady run the preview and thus will likely run the final version of Windows 10 let alone lower end options that will come with native 10 on release day of the device.   As others said, fans (much like iOS or that other platform) will no doubt look past the $$$ amount. Business/enterprise, any one big enough will be able to test out one of these devices before considering converting everyone to them. Even at prospect of unlocked direct from MS devices, place I worked for had a 950 non-XL from ATT in the first few days to start testing and had already had plenty of time with earlier 8.1 test devices running Win 10 previews.    
  • There are at least a few good Android phones with similar specs for $400. Windows Phone isn't competing with iPhone. iPhone users are not going to switch to Windows. They compete with Android and as such they need to compete on price. They cannot compete on features or apps, the only chance is price. They need to bring it aggressive. $299 unlocked would have been a good start. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • People who like software support and ecosystems that aren't even more fragmented than the bloody Android will pay $649. The only people who should buy WP are people that WP will make feel fuzzy inside. If that's you, by all means, go for it. We all have our guilty pleasures and it's still better than listening to vinyls. I am sorely disappointed with what I got from it. Not only are there fewer apps, but even the same apps that are there, work considerably worse. Then again, I have nobody else to blame but myself.
  • Now, now...I listen to vinyls. . Seriously, I agree with you about everything else "Not only are there fewer apps, but even the same apps that are there, work considerably worse".  Even worse, I am still waiting for a top tier window phone for my carrier in the US.