Microsoft has had a change of leadership in the recent times with the helm now shifting from the hands of Steve Ballmer to Satya Nadella. The move seems one in the right direction as Satya Nadella has been a long term employee of Microsoft and is one of those instrumental to Microsoft’s biggest revenue gainer, its cloud computing service. As Microsoft heads into a new era of Mobile computing, it must now look towards its new leader for guidance on how to take the company forward. Microsoft holds over 90% of the PC Market yet holds barely 4% of the mobile market. While PC’s market share was a significant achievement till little over 5 years ago, Today’s battle field is the smartphone and tablet market. Satya Nadella must now face a long uphill climb to the top of a growing smartphone heap and do it faster than all the competitors. Here are some of the challenges Satya Nadella faces in the battle for Windows Phone dominance and what steps he may take to win the battle.
The Android Clout
Smartphone market is well and truly Android’s Bastion. With over 90% of the market share, there is very little anyone can do to avoid the onslaught of Android devices, applications and services. More and more developers are heading towards building exclusive apps for Google Play and are willing to even by pass iOS and Windows Phone. While the world was going through the Flappy Bird frenzy, Windows users were simply left out. The game never made it to Windows phone before it was abruptly pulled from Google Play Store as well as iOS. Clearly, Windows OS is missing out on trend setters and big shot Apps.
Microsoft is contemplating allowing Android apps to run on Windows phones in the near future. While this move will ensure its growing base of users don’t miss out on trend setters. This will however de-incentivise developers from making exclusive Windows Apps. Perhaps it is a battle worth losing as Microsoft and Nokia can focus on making better hardware and exclusive software without worrying about losing out on high profile Apps and trend-setting games from Android. Windows Phone 8.1 has been leaked in entirety and it looks like Microsoft was hard at work. Every missing feature is present in the upcoming version of Windows Phone. It even supports the dual SIM cards as Microsoft has understood the need to address developing markets where rapid growth can be expected.
The Failure of Surface
It is no secret that one of the biggest failures of Steve Ballmer in his otherwise glorious time as CEO of Microsoft was the failure of Surface tablet. The Windows’s marquee tablet PC lost more money for Microsoft than any other individual service or product in 2012. While the tablet failed to budge even fringe players, Microsoft themselves saw the dream of Windows RT office dwindling to nothing. It seems now that Microsoft may no longer have what it takes to take on the might of the iPad, something Samsung has been themselves trying to do for over 3 years.
Microsoft is preparing its first touch based version of the Office for the iPad. While office has remained one of the key USPs of Microsoft Surface, it seems Microsoft clearly doesn’t want to lose out on the humongous base of iPad users. Clearly, it may be time to shut down Surface and focus on capitalising on the competition. Microsoft can’t sell tablets on Office but can definitely make sure its cloud service and OS essentials are adopted by iOS and Android users. Surface may not be totally killed off and we may just see a more promising rendition in the years to come, thanks to the hardware ingenuity of Nokia. For now however, Surface’s failure can be used as an opportunity for Microsoft to focus further on enhancing its presence in competitor devices.
Slow Growth Of Lumia
Nokia Lumia is growing as a smartphone. Nokia Lumia today stands as one of the top 3 players in the smartphone space especially in developing markets such as India, Latin America and eastern Europe. However, the numbers for Nokia Lumia are still not growing as fast as Microsoft would’ve liked. One of the major reasons for this is the apparent lack of diversity the device faced for its first 2 years. Today however these problems may be solved quickly.
Nokia and Microsoft have been working together to increase the portfolio of Lumia devices. Today Nokia Lumia devices start from as low as Rs 9000 and cater to a wider spectrum of users. Nokia has recently announced the launch of the Nokia Lumia 1320 and Nokia Lumia 2520 which also cater to a thus far unexplored spectrum of users. >Nokia Lumia 1320 price in India is Rs 21,594 and is by far one of the most affordable 6”HD smartphone in the market. The phone offers to its users the best of Windows OS at affordable mid-range price. Similarly Nokia Lumia 2520 would be Microsoft’s first real contender for a solid Windows Tablet after its surface debacle. It will be interesting to see how these two devices cater to a growing spectrum of Phablet and Tablet aficionados.
Microsoft are at a strange juncture at the moment. While on one hand, Microsoft wants to hold onto its old traditions and maintain its significant presence in the PC market. On the other, Microsoft must accept the revolution that is underway in mobile computing and data consumption. Satya Nadella has already sowed the seeds of what Microsoft’s future may look like. Microsoft will have more collaborative approach with competitors, more emphasis on Cloud services and solutions for mobile users and better diversity in the mobile space. It will be interesting to see how Mr Nadella changes the fortunes of Microsoft in the mobile space.