I suspect Windows Phone team are chasing the wrong metrics.

I’ve had an interesting and insightful conversation with Steve Sinofsky the past 24hrs that has got me thinking about the concept of how we measure success. Firstly, I know its freaking me out how much I am learning from the one person that I honestly thought was the single point of failure at Microsoft – but – I was wrong! as I suspect he had more to offer than Microsoft was willing to absorb that or he was too busy trying to steer whatever ship(s) he was steering to discuss. To the subject at hand. When I think about Mobility and how we measure the success and failures, I automatically break open my OneNote file on where the numbers are currently at when it comes to Windows Phone 8, iPhone, Android etc. The first thing I often do is review what the market share looks like and then probably grow agitated at how slowly Windows Phone is moving (yay 50% growth, but they need 300% to break into the 3rd place category). The problem with just tracking market share is the data has no soul, which leads me into the points I’ve been having with Sinofsky around how data is just a signal of behavior but it doesn’t tell you the entire picture accurately. How do I mean accurately? If you look at iPhone today you will no doubt see, it has a huge amount of the market share pie, but in all honesty, that doesn’t tell you much in the way of actual usage or replenishment rates. All it tells us is right now on planet earth there is just a very large amount of iPhones floating about the place and typically, many new customers are switching on iPhones for the first time each day we breathe oxygen. If you however look to your left or right and ask your peers how often do they buy iPhones they may typically come back with an answer that resembles “one to two years” In that they aren’t the ones likely to retain parity with Apple’s release cycles anymore? What happens to their existing phones when they fade it out? Is it relegated to the grandparents? Given to the kids as a gaming device? Sold on ebay? That for me is the metric I want to know the most about, how many new phones are people adopting and lastly how long does it take between phone adoptions. Then if you can layer in operating system, form factor (sizes) and latency between adoptions that would probably give early signs of where movement between adoptions is happening. Having that data set will also tell us all an open transparent story around how each mobile phone corporation in the race for success is able to sustain their adoption & life cycle. It also would give teams like the Windows Phone team a smarter metric to go after as if a typical iPhone customer today is taking 1-2 years before they migrate to a new phone or upgrade that in itself is the period in which you would need to strike aggressively. How to navigate these waters with the right data is the key and focusing in on who has the biggest slice of the pie tells us an end total of who was smart enough to figure out the overall collective metrics. It doesn’t tell us a story around who’s strategy was successful and where? For instance, which phone size right now is the bliss point in size? Which phone color is the best? Which phone feature seems to excite the most? And so on. These are data points and many more like them that are quite hard to mine for given most companies will hide that as much as possible to save embarrassment or alert competitors of success. Which is fine it just sadly feeds the beast around “% marketshare = success” rhetoric. You can boost your percentage if you just give phones away for free in China/India as sure, it will hurt your revenue model(s) but it would boost your confidence in the market level(s) and probably lighten the burden on your marketing budget as well. Clearly though that is a terrible strategy given it is going after the % and can’t sustain itself long term. I guess my end point and the lesson of the week is basically, what the definition of success here is in our industry? Is it to have 40%+ market share for a particular brand which in turn influences our decision(s) to buy or are we being shaped / groomed into buying these devices because suppliers are assuming that having market share means an easier sale? Downside is we are probably buying a form factor or device because of noisy influence vs. the right fit. Point and case – I bought the Nokia 920 because everyone I knew said it was the best of breed at the time for Windows Phone 8. I automatically forgave its size because I wanted to hear that story around it being the best. It took me a day before I developed buyer’s remorse solely on the size of the device as sure it had qualities that I liked about the phone but I really didn’t need to go above my iphone size? I went into that purchase with two sets of bias and I allowed the bogus data to shape an outcome that I ultimately did not want. Stupid but interesting how I was influenced.  

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  • Martin Kirk

    Did you really deduce all that insightfulness out of 15 jibberish twitter posts ??

    Or is there more to this story ?

  • I think they need to focus on the long tail.

    I’ve been using a Windows Phone for 17 months now, and the little things have taken their toll. There’s no Sirius XM app. My credit union has smartphone apps, but not for Windows Phone. I miss Facebook Messenger; people keep telling me that I don’t need it because it’s built into the OS, and I’m telling you the offline messaging functionality simply is not there. Waiting months to get my disappearing keyboard fixed was not fun (thanks, AT&T). MailChimp keeps pressuring me to use their AlterEgo two-factor authentication via iPhone or Android, but there’s no Windows Phone app. And the built-in e-mail client doesn’t event you let you map its #$@@$% “Sent Items” folder to the “Sent” folder sitting on the IMAP server or delete unread messages correctly; basic freaking stuff!

    And I’m done. I want to love Windows Phone. I use and love Microsoft tools. I wrote a Metro weather app for my phone *for fun*. I agree with the reviews that the “authentically digital” interface is refreshing and fluid. But I’m tired of this daily death by a thousand papercuts. For years, I have used Windows because if there was ever a niche piece of software that existed for an industry then that software was written on Windows. I didn’t have to think about my platform being part of my problem, ever. But in the mobile world, if there’s going to be a niche app — like the one for my credit union, like the one to get my MailChimp discount — then it’s on iPhone and it’s on Android, because that’s what the nerds are using, and that’s where the users are, and that’s that. That is the metric that matters. It is a platform first and a phone second.

    I don’t know how they can fix that.

    In terms of market share, I’m sure there are a ton of iPhones — such as the freebies being used by my parents — that are being used just for e-mail and awkward texts. They’re not having whining, entitled first-world problems like I am with the lack of apps and functionality. But they’re also not how iPhone got started. iPhone got started by nerdy early adopters willing to drop hundreds of bucks on a fancy smartphone and use that collective nerdshare to build an app ecosystem despite a toolset and language that was completely foreign to most developers on the planet. Yet the Windows Phone team is actively ticking off the nerds. Drop WP7 into the trash, change the API — a gunshot to the head to the early adopters who actually cared. What a mistake.

  • AS147

    Scott, the most interesting part of the story for me was the statement about Steve. A suspicion (as I have no proof) that I have had for some time is that he leaving MS was their loss.Whilst it is easy for people to point at his style and call it a fault but the characteristics he displayed are similiar to those of other iconic and very successful folk in many industries (highly intelligent, a bit “off”, determined and stubborn, narrow minded and sometimes socially ignorant etc). Yes his writings are hard to keep reading in long stretches but I think he probably presents a lot better in direct conversation (when he wants to). In terms of the main body of your story I agree but market share is one of the important targets its just there would be an easier and better way to become a successful eco system in the mobile market if the underlying data supporting usage and buyong patterns were more understood.
    p.s. I purchased the 920 also but did so on the fear that there was no better supporter of the OS and the apps than Nokia and also on the specs which far outweigh anything else available (big is ok for me). I haven’t regretted the decision but can see the allure of a lighter and smaller device for some.

  • masher

    Microsoft isn’t even worth looking at anymore.