View From Above

Sep 5 2012   12:10PM GMT

New Lumias Can’t Salvage Microsoft’s Mobile Platform

Ron Miller Ron Miller Profile: Ron Miller

The new colorful line of Nokia Lumia phones. Photo courtesy of Nokia.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the shiny new phones that Nokia trotted out this morning. Leaving aside we weren’t given a price or availability of these phones or that the next generation iPhone will be released next week, on their face, these look great and have lots of nifty features. The trouble is that Nokia needed more than it could ever offer to get Microsoft and Nokia where they want to go.

I know I keep beating the same drum in this blog, but it’s not as though I relish the thought of Microsoft and Nokia failing. It’s quite the opposite. I’ve acknowledged many times, the market needs someone to take on Google and Apple, but these two platforms have become so powerful, it’s going to be almost impossible to stop them on pure momentum alone.

That said, not everyone feels that way. In fact, my colleague Wayne Rash, writing in eWeek saw this announcement as a real opportunity for the Microsoft platform due to the copyright litigation dance going on with Apple, Google and Samsung, which he believes could leave Microsoft with an opening. It’s possible, but as I’ve written I don’t think most consumers pay the least bit of attention to patent litigation.

As usual, you have your share of tech journalists gushing over the phone, and yes, it’s a nice phone, but as I wrote in a recent post, when you start as low on the marketshare totem pole as Microsoft, it’s going to take some serious traction to move up the ladder — even a little bit.

And, let’s face it, the first generation of Lumia phones were pretty nice too, but they didn’t do much. According to the latest comScore numbers for July, 2012, Microsoft dipped from 4.0 percent in the April report to 3.6 percent for July. If you trust these numbers (and I don’t see any reason not to trust comScore), in spite of the huge push from AT&T, Microsoft and Nokia; the Microsoft platform actually lost ground.

What’s different this time?

Don’t get me wrong, there is some cool technology here, and the phones have interesting colors, a big screen, a powerful camera and intriguing wireless recharging. (I’m curious to find out how and how well that works.) But you can’t escape the fact, no matter how fancy these phones may be that Apple’s market share increased 2 percent according to that same comScore report topping off at 33.4 percent for July.

And it’s not as though Apple is standing still. In a week, when the next generation iPhones come out, what do you suppose everyone will be talking about and the marketshare numbers will likely rise accordingly.

I don’t mean to leave out Google here because Android marketshare was up 1.4 percent to 52.2 percent of the US market in July. Look for yourselves. As the saying goes, read ’em and weep.

The latest comScore marketshare numbers don’t paint a pretty picture for the Microsoft platform.

Chart courtesy of comScore.

As Preston Gralla wrote on Computerworld today, it’s a nice enough phone, but it’s not a game changer. And that’s the problem because it’s not about the phone or the features. When people walk into the store to buy a new phone, they aren’t choosing Microsoft. They are going with Android or Apple, and with a new iPhone coming, chances are the story is not going to change unless Nokia and Microsoft come up with Star Trek-like transporter technology for the phone.

That might turn some heads. Otherwise, as the headlines fade, look for the same old story: Microsoft mobile platform struggles to gain traction. Story at 11.

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