Windows Phone primed to exploit iOS and Android shortcomings

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Expensive iOS run handsets and ‘inconsistent’ Android gives Windows Phone enterprise edge

Windows Phones is now primed for a genuine assault on the enterprise market – thanks to its wide range of devices and consistent user experience.

This was the view from head of IDC’s European mobility team John Delaney (pictured) who was speaking during Microsoft’s “Business Transformed” event in London on June 4.

Delaney told the media at the event that Microsoft’s Windows Phone-run handsets – the fastest adopted OS on the planet in 2013 – are now better suited in the enterprise sector, highlighting the wide range of price points on its Nokia Lumia handset range.

He labelled Apple’s iOS-run handset, the iPhone, as “expensive” and limited in choice (two models in the market at present), whilst he was also critical of Android, describing user experiences as “inconsistent” due to the large number of different manufacturer partnerships, such as Samsung, Sony Mobile, HTC and LG using the OS.

“iOS is only available on two devices, both of which are expensive to purchase, and which also tend to run up higher mobile data bills,” said Delaney.

“Android is fragmented and inconsistent between different device brands, and even between different models in a single brand’s device range. There are also concerns about the security of Android, such as its high level of exposure to malware.

“Windows Phone scores on both of these counts. The platform runs on a wide range of devices, some at low price points, and the user experience is completely consistent on all of these devices.

It is also consistent with the desktop and tablet experience provided by Windows 8.

“With the release of Windows Phone 8.1, we believe that Microsoft can now offer enterprises a fully viable smartphone proposition, and one which means that enterprises no longer need to choose between the consistency, ease of use and strong security offered by iOS devices, and the variety and wide range of prices offered by Android.”

Perception

Delaney then reeled off statistics, that showed 35 per cent of UK enterprises are running devices using Android and 32 per cent are running iOS. Nokia handsets currently account for an 18 per cent share in the enterprise space, ahead of Samsung but behind Apple.

nokia-lumia-520-color-range-2-web

It’s UK consumer market share is currently around 10 per cent, more than double that of the year before. UK growth has been heavily attributed to sales of the Lumia 520 (pictured right), priced as little as £120 by some resellers.

At the start of April, Nokia won a 30,000-handset deal with Spanish financial group CaixaBank to supply 30,000 employees with its Lumia 925 smartphones replacing a number of pre-existing deals, which included BlackBerry.

Delaney also insisted the perception of Windows Phone playing catch-up in the OS space, particularly around security and application availability is no longer relevant. He added that Windows is well positioned to take advantage of customers looking to change from the likes of BlackBerry – thanks to its lower handset costs and IT offerings, such as Microsoft 365.

“Some commentators have described Windows Phone 8.1 as playing catchup with Apple and Android. This limited characterisation misses the point.

Microsoft has addressed all the issues that have hampered its uptake by enterprises, and at the same time enhanced the advantages it offers to enterprises in comparison with iOS and Android.

“There is a strong growing opportunity for Microsoft to target enterprise IT buyers with Windows Phone, driven by two factors: the wave of enterprises that have been all-BlackBerry shops, and have decided they need to seek an alternative; and the increasing tendency for enterprises to take a CYOD (choose your own device) approach in preference to the full BYOD (bring your own device) model, thus leaving platform selection in the hands of IT rather than end users.”

Despite Delaney’s praise for Windows Phone, he insists there as still a number of challenges to be addressed before it can realistically think of overtaking Android and iOS as the platform of choice. IDC interviewed a number of customers as part of the white paper, asking questions about areas such as security, cross-platform compatibility, manageability of public applications and the attractiveness to the end user.

The results showed it’s Microsoft’s perception in the wider market, rather than its actual qualities, that will hold it back, as overall demand will be stifled.

Strong demand

“All of the Microsoft partners we interviewed believe the main weakness of Windows Phone to be its relatively low adoption in the mass market.

This means that enterprise IT people are not experiencing strong demand for the platform from their end users. One of the main reasons for this is the perception among consumers that Windows Phone is “a desert of apps”.

“This is something that Microsoft still struggles with. It inhibits user pull for Windows Phone, which is an increasingly important selection criterion for enterprises.”

Microsoft insists there will be significant efforts around its marketing – although no figures have been confirmed.

Full article in Mobile News issue 566 (June 16, 2014).

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