I am not an app developer, nor am I a market sage or pundit by any means, but here is what it would take for me to switch to a Windows phone.
I enjoy my aging Android handset. It’s slow, but it does the job. Apps are not as important to me as you’d think but there are some areas that I believe a focus on would help:
- Swype. The absolute must-have is Swype or an equivalent alternate keyboard. For all its goodness, I can’t for the life of me understand how iOS users put up with the bog-standard keyboard that they do.
- Rocking Gmail and Google calendar support. You can generalize this to top-notch email and calendar support across the board, but the ability to star Gmail or google app account emails is critical. I am also a huge calendar user and need solid read and write support for multiple calendars to even consider a switch.
- I am a dedicated Flipboard user, but I think you’re on to something with your hub approach. Make your news and people apps rock and third-party apps would not be an issue in this space. Note, they are good, but not great, check out Google’s Currents or the aforementioned Flipboard for functional inspiration.
- Mapping and Navigation need to be in the same ballpark as the Google offering. That includes turn-by turn and voice recognition support. I can’t tell you how many times my hiney has been saved by commanding my phone to “Navigate to x address” when driving somewhere I didn’t expect to be.
- Lastly, and this is the toughest to fix, is essential third-party support for apps that meet geo-specific needs. As a NY Metro area dweller, I need to have the NY Waterways app, for instance, to buy tickets when PATH is delayed. I need a Best Parking-type app for last-minute parking options and deals. My point isn’t that I need my favorite apps, but that I think some research should be done into targeting high-density urban areas and seeding the necessary apps for those areas. I suspect Seamless is another service that could use a Windows port in many urban areas.
I am intrigued by the good and difficult work you’ve done on UI differentiation. I also think your Office support is your killer feature, although I suppose an argument can also be made for Xbox integration. (I am not a gamer, so I have no experience in this regard.) For me, truthfully, Outlook’s support of alternate calendars has the ability to be the single killer feature that could drive acceptance for me. At some point, I’d like to pick up the developer mantle on Windows 8, but I have no immediate plans. Good luck, MS. I think the world needs a strong third mobile ecosystem.