The Waiting Game

For the last two years, Microsoft has been focused on the middle and low end of the market, ignoring the flagship market and attempting to make a play for volume and the developing markets. And at the end of the period, the result is… a 3.5% market share. This has barely moved over the last several years, despite the focus on low end volume.

Now, there’s likely several reasons for this, but one of them is the insanity of the Microsoft/Nokia lineup right now. Here’s the Lumia lineup as it currently exists (ignoring any phones that came out with Nokia branding):

430
435
532
535
540
640
640 XL

It’s easy to tell that the 640 XL is the direct successor to the 1320, right? And this doesn’t include the Nokia phones still being sold, like the 530, 630, 635, 730, 735, and on and on. Because of the large number of overlapping low end phones, it’s impossible to decipher the best option is these days.

And when overall specifications are taken into account, phones like the $199 ASUS ZenPhone 2 outdo everything Windows Phone currently ships in the same price bracket. In the US, that’s currently the 640 XL, although a little deal hunting can bring down better phones into the same price bracket. Regardless of which one it is, though, the only existing Windows Phones that can equal the ZenPhone 2’s hardware are the nearly two year old 930 and 1520, former flagships that are now on deep discount.

Unfortuantely, this is all part of a larger pattern. There has been no new flagship Windows Phone for two years, nor a new camera phone to replace the 1020 (Nokia’s former biggest area of leadership in the mobile space). Combine this with an uninspiring midrange of 730 and 830 models that is consistently out-specced and under-priced by their Android rivals, and it is impossible to arrive at a conclusion except that Microsoft is consistently late to launch models, confusing consumers with their vast array of mostly similar phones, and completely missing the highest margin of the phone market.

Bluntly, unless they can create a miracle with Windows 10 Mobile and its bevy of new features, their place in the smartphone market will become the joke that many pundits already treat it as.

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