Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) once ran an ad tagged “don’t fight“. The ad shows iPhone users and Samsung users fighting over who has the best smartphone – people with Windows Phones were unfazed and they simply asked iOS and Android users to “Switch, don’t fight”. Of course, iOS and Android users didn’t switch to Windows Mobile after that ad, but the Surface Phone might give them a compelling reason to switch now.
Microsoft’s mobile platform currently stands at a distant third behind Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android devices. Hence, the Surface Phone will not find it easy to corner market share for Microsoft in a market dominated by Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android-powered smartphones. This piece explores the singular feature that could give the Microsoft Phone an edge over rivals.
Microsoft’s Surface Phone could convince iPhone and Android users to switch
The tech industry has been abuzz with rumors that the Surface Phone will be outfitted with support for Win32 apps. In essence, the Phone will be able to run legacy Windows program that people run on their PCs. If Microsoft actually fortifies the Surface Phone to run Win32 apps, you can reasonably expect iPhone and Android devices to be at a marked disadvantage.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is planning to get a foothold in the smartphone industry and the Surface Phone could thrust Windows Mobile into the limelight. Latest tech news suggests that the firm might unveil the much-awaited Surface Phone in March 2017. The Surface team has awed the tech industry with innovative devices such as the Surface Book and Surface Pro; hence, many people expect the Surface Phone to be a stunner.
Interestingly, a comparison of the rumored specs of the Surface Phone and the specs of Apple’s latest iPhone 7 suggests that the Surface Phone is a game changer. However, superior hardware won’t necessarily give the Surface Phone an edge over iPhones and Android devices. Microsoft needs to ensure that the Surface Phone runs Win32 apps if it is serious about overtaking Apple in smartphone race.
Here’s how Win32 might have an edge over iOS and Android
To start with, the Surface Phone’s ability to run Win32 apps will solve the apps chicken-egg problem for Windows mobile. The Windows Mobile OS has not been able to garner market share because there aren’t enough apps for the platform. The number of Windows Mobile apps pales in comparison to the volume of apps available in the Android and iOS ecosystems. On the other hand, developers do not have much incentive to build apps for Windows Mobile because of the low number of users.
Hence, the Surface Phone will have a suite of ready-made apps if it can run Win32 legacy apps. Developers won’t need to create new Win32 apps for the Surface Phone. They will only need to use Microsoft’s Desktop Bridge to port desktop apps to the Universal Windows Platform.
Secondly, the availability of Microsoft Win32 apps on the Surface Phone will encourage Android and iOS users to buy the Surface Phone. Most Android users own a Windows PC and very few of them use the Chromebook for desktop computing. Hence, many people (especially Android users) will love the ability to have portable desktop programs on their smartphones. The Surface Phone might not replace the laptop (that’s the work of the Surface Pro) but users will love the rest of mind that from being able to access Win32 apps on the go using their smartphone.