Just four months after kicking off its “Smoked by Windows Phone” campaign, Microsoft is claiming that more than 50,000 competing smartphones have been defeated by Windows Phone. That’s a 98 percent winning percentage overall. Which makes me wonder: If Windows Phone is so great, why aren’t more customers interested in the handsets?
"I kicked off Smoked by Windows Phone at CES in January [to] show the world that Windows Phone is simply faster at the everyday stuff that people do on their smartphones,” Microsoft’s Ben Rudolph explains in a post to the Windows Phone Blog. “Since then, we’ve seen it in the Microsoft Stores, run by fans, and hosted by Microsoft teams all over the world.”
It’s been a big winner for Microsoft despite the fact that the actual phones aren’t selling well.
According to the company, Windows Phone has defeated 50,675 competing phones (mostly Android devices and iPhones) in the competitions, which have been held in almost 40 countries around the world. Other phones defeated Windows Phone only 638 times.
Evolving the campaign, this week Microsoft is launching a series of "Faster than Windows Phone?" web ads, which can be viewed on the company’s YouTube channel. As with the original series of “Smoked by Windows Phone” competitions, these ads highlight two people, one using Windows Phone and the other using a competing smartphone, to perform common activities such as sending a text message, checking the weather, or posting something to Facebook and Twitter.
Though there’s been some faux controversy over the campaign—in one case, a tech blogger who stacked the decks with his curiously configured Android phone claimed Microsoft denied him a victory—there’s no doubt about why Windows Phone has won so handily in these competitions: It really is more efficient than the Android or iPhone, even when the users of those phones are very familiar with their devices, because of the deep services integration Microsoft built into the system. Some complain that the challenges Microsoft provides play on those strengths. But since it designed Windows Phone to address real-world needs, this complaint, too, reeks of faux indignation. Why is no one complaining that Android and iPhone aren’t designed to address common usage scenarios?
Where Microsoft has really faltered, of course, is with Windows Phone sales. The system currently commands a wobbly 2 percent of the smartphone market, behind not just Android, iPhone, and Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry, but also behind the nebulous “Other” category that contains any number of also-rans. And as I note this week in my "Is Time Running Out for Windows Phone?" editorial, Microsoft is quietly remaking the Windows Phone platform yet again with Windows Phone 8, which will be based on Windows 8. This system won’t support upgrades from previous versions of Windows Phone, and it will require developers to learn yet another developer environment and new APIs. In other words, everything is changing. Again.
This kind of turmoil is the last thing Windows Phone needs right now, and while this quarter should show a nice market-share bump thanks to stellar sales of the Nokia Lumia 900, I’m curious to see how these users will react when they discover that their Windows Phone flagship device is just a placeholder. It’s going to be ugly.
“Smoked by Windows Phone” is a great campaign that plays to Windows Phone’s strengths. But if the company is serious about pushing this platform, it should be plastering TV with these ads, pronto.