Is Microsoft Hurting Windows Phone with Lumia?

Is Microsoft Hurting Windows Phone with Lumia?

By Rich W Woods

Yezz is a small company that makes smart phones. From my experience with small smart phone OEMs, they make great products. A couple weeks ago, they were kind enough to send me the Yezz Billy 4.7 and the Yezz Andy 5T, a Windows Phone and an Android phone, respectively, named after Bill Gates and Andy Rubin, respectively.

The Yezz Billy 4.7 is an absolutely stunning phone (the Andy 5T is as well, but that’s beyond the scope of this column). It is super light and thin, it has a beautiful display, it comes with headphones, it comes with three removable backs, and it even comes with a couple screen protectors! This all comes for the price of $179.99. It’s a budget phone that fills a hole created by budget Lumias, which are all either powerful, have a great camera, have a great display, very low priced, or thin and light but never all of the above. They also aren’t as thin and light as the Yezz Billy 4.7. In fact, no phone that I know of is.

Take a look at the Lumia lineup. The lowest end Lumia that comes with multiple backs and a 720p display is the Nokia Lumia 830, which sells for $499 unlocked, which also uses a 1.2 GHz quad core processor (with a better GPU). The Lumia 735 has as good of a display and is close to being as thin and light, doesn’t come with headphones or removable backs, and sells for around $350.

There are Great Alternatives to Lumias Out There

I brought up the Yezz Billy 4.7 because I’m currently reviewing it and it delivers a stunning amount of value, beauty, and style for $179; however, there are many great alternatives to Lumias.

The HTC One M8 for Windows is the prime example. Released in August 2014, it remains the only Windows Phone to use the Snapdragon 801 processor. With Verizon discontinuing the Nokia Lumia Icon and AT&T discontinuing the Nokia Lumia 1520, the HTC One M8 for Windows remains the last flagship to be sold in the United States.

The Samsung ATIV SE is another great option. Like the Nokia Lumia 930, Icon, and 1520, it uses a Snapdragon 800 processor and a 5″ AMOLED display (1520 is 6″). It uses a 13 MP rear camera, putting it on par with anything else on the market. I can tell you that those Lumias with Snapdragon 800s are extremely pleasant to use, so I’m sure this is as well.

Blu makes Windows Phones as well. The Blu Win Jr is a budget option that comes in at around $79 with a quad core Snapdragon 200 processor and a 5 MP rear camera. If that’s a bit too low end, the Blu Win HD is available for $100 more. It uses the same processor but with an 8 MP camera that records 1080p video and a 2 MP front camera.

So Why Aren’t People Buying Them?

Since I received the Yezz Billy 4.7, I’ve been trying to write a lot about it, mostly comparing it to other phones in similar price ranges. While many readers are very impressed with what they see from the Yezz Billy 4.7, they tell me that they would rather go for a real Windows Phone, a Lumia.

After all, Lumias are the most talked about Windows Phones that exist. They control about 95% of all Windows Phone market share. Most of all, they are made by the same company that makes Windows Phone.

When Windows Phone 8.1 came out, it was big news. Everyone talked about Lumia Cyan, the firmware update that would come bundled with Windows Phone 8.1. HTC, Samsung, Yezz, Blu, and other Windows Phone OEMs weren’t even mentioned. It’s as if they’re second class citizens.

Take a look at the Windows Mobile 10 Technical Preview. For its first build, it was available for six Lumias. For the second build to be released Friday, it will be available for all Windows Phone 8 Lumias except for two. There is no mention of non-Lumia Windows Phones. After all, the Windows Phone Recovery Tool only works on Lumias, so if the Windows Mobile 10 Technical Preview doesn’t work for you, you can’t go back to Windows Phone 8.1.

Why it Hurts Windows Phone

I know what you’re thinking. “Rich, why would it hurt Windows Phone? As long as good Windows Phones are being made, that’s all that matters! Dick!” Well, not really.

If I might digress for a moment, I want to point out that Android fanboys love to create an iOS vs Android war in their heads. They will undoubtedly strike first; however, when you retort by pointing out that the iPhone is the best selling phone in the world, they will make sure you know that Android has a market share of around 85% and iOS is around 10-13%. Of course it is. Why would you compare one company that makes one line of phones to dozens of companies that make hundreds of lines of phones? It’s silly. Apple simply doesn’t have the business model for iOS to be the majority.

History has taught us that this is a two horse race and there is no room for a third. Throughout the 80s, it was Microsoft and Apple. In the 90s, it was Microsoft and Linux. In the early 2000s, it was Microsoft and Apple again. In the late 2000s until now, it’s Apple and Google.

The reason for this is that developers have to write their apps once for each platform. For iOS, the app must be written in Swift or Objective-C. For Android, it must be written in Java. For Windows Phone, it must be C# or VB.NET or HTML5 with Javascript, depending on Microsoft’s mood. Creating these apps takes time and resources and most developers aren’t going to spend that time and resources on a third platform.

If Apple stays on the track that it is on, it will always maintain its niche in the market. They will always have their 10%. I should also point out that although iOS is a vast minority, as far as how much revenue the platform generates, iOS is a vast majority, so developers are going to port their apps to iOS because iOS customers will pay for the apps.

Users want choice, which is why we always have a two horse race instead of a one horse race. Users have a choice between OS, which is Android and iOS, and they also have a choice between different OEMs, different screen sizes, different Android skins, etc., which is why Android works now and Windows has historically succeeded on the desktop.

The question is if Microsoft wants to replace iOS or if they want to replace Android in this two horse race. Like I said, I don’t think iOS is going anywhere. Apple is a niche. The users don’t have a choice in skins, a choice in different models (well, now it’s the 6 and 6 Plus), but users are generally agreeing that they want Apple and Apple isn’t doing anything to turn them away. Apple is not slipping up anytime soon.

Ideally, you would think that Microsoft wants Windows Phone to replace Android in the two horse race. Historically, that has been the model that has worked for them in the past. In the 80s and 90s, Apple made Macs and Macs were the only PCs that ran Mac OS, much like iPhones and iOS are today. Microsoft was there with Windows to give users choice. By licensing it to OEMs, they quickly gained a majority market share, much like Android is doing now.

This is why Lumia is hurting Windows Phone. If third party Windows Phones aren’t “real” Windows Phones and these companies can’t sell them, they will stop making them, leaving Microsoft to adopt Apple’s model of being the only OEM of phones that run their own OS.

As I said though, Apple is not going anywhere. Apple has perfected their model. When you don’t give anyone choice, you have to provide the best of whatever it is your selling and Apple does that.

If Microsoft does adopt Apple’s model and yet they can’t replace Apple, that still leaves them as the third horse. That gives them the ability to climb to the same 10% market share that Apple has, but since Windows Phone customers are not likely to spend as much as Apple’s customers, it won’t work as well for them.

About the author
Rich Woods

Being a computer programmer wasn't enough to fulfill his love of technology. In 2013, Rich founded For the Love of Tech and has been writing about his love of tech ever since.

  • Rich, if that was the case same would have happened with Android. Nexus devices are the real Android devices but yet Galaxy sells more units. Problem with WP is awareness and the integration of services which is not seamless. OEMs are often not interested in spreading a word about their devices except Lumia. Like Yezz, there are many other makers around the world. Many don’t even care to send review units. They are making devices as if it’s obligatory for them per agreement.
    Lumia devices indeed come with stunning hardware. Only phone that comes close to Lumia 930 is One M8 but even it’s incomplete on so many levels.

    • rwoods716

      You make good points, but I wouldn’t say that Nexus are the “real” Android devices. For one thing, they are not made by Google. They are licensed to third party OEMs. Also, Google doesn’t really push Nexus, not like Microsoft pushes Lumia. If Lumias were licensed to third party OEMs I think it would be different.

      I do certainly hope I’m wrong. Either way, the thing I’m afraid of is that Microsoft will eventually be the only one making Windows Phone. If that happens, they’re destined to remain number three and fade into obscurity.