I just bought myself a new iPhone 7. This was a long overdue change, as since a few months my Microsoft Lumia was acting weird, and with no clear future path for Windows Phones, I didn’t want to buy something that would be useless in a few months.
A Bit of History
Let’s go back in time and see my phones.
I bought my first smartphone, an iPhone 3G, in June 2008, as soon as the first version of iPhone working in Europe was announced (iPhone 3G). I went on using iPhone for a few years, upgrading to iPhone 4 in 2010.
Then Microsoft announced its smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 7, and I almost immediately bought one to test how it worked and with the idea of building some apps. After some times I started using WP as my main phone, and never looked back for a few years, passing from the Samsung Omnia, to a Lumia 800, to a Lumia 930 in July 2014. I loved the UI, with dynamic tiles that displayed information at a glance. I also developed a newsreader for Windows Phone 7.
Then Windows Phone 8 came and changed the way apps had to be built. And then again, Windows Phone 10, and yet another change in how apps have to built.
While this is not a problem per se for end users, it is a problem for developers that had to rebuild their apps in order to be compatible with the new versions of the phones. Sometimes small changes, sometimes more fundamental changes.
This, over time, alienated developers, which at the end turned into fewer applications available for end-users, which caused fewer users to buy WP phones, which didn’t incentivize developer to spend time in updating apps, and so on. And only the biggest app and companies that couldn’t afford to lose that small 5%-10% of the market (in EU; in the USA, I think it never grew more than 2-3%) made apps for Windows Phone. Which IMHO was enough for most of the users: email, calendar, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Weather, maps, banking and the occasional games and fitness app.
Why did I move to away from Windows Phone to an iPhone? Because recently I started being more involved in sports. I started training for a triathlon. And none of the big fitness companies that produce sport watches or devices have apps for Windows Phone. This is due to the fact that Windows Phone 10 lacks some support for connecting to these modern BLE devices (doesn’t support “code-less” BLE pairing and cannot act as BLE client to devices).
So, I couldn’t sync my sport watch with my phone. Same for cyclo-computers and indoor trainers. And since these big players do not support WP, none of the popular fitness apps like Strava, TrainingPeaks and more support it either.
Another is my growing interest in connected devices, most of which comes from startups from USA. Given the aforementioned reasons (low market share), they obviously don’t spend time in making a Windows Phone app.
Yet another, more fundamental, reason is the (no) roadmap for the future of Windows Phone. Microsoft sold the featurephone division beginning of 2016, and it was hinted that they will not make new Lumia phones and even stop selling what they have in stock. They might produce a Surface Phone or anything else, but this level of uncertainty doesn’t help keep the few users they still have.
Why Not Android?
I own an Android phone from Sony for two years already, and recently I also had a Galaxy Express for a few weeks when I was in USA and both my other phones were dead (Lumia with an unresponsive touch-screen and Sony with a broken glass).
In general, the feeling of Android is less polished and a bit too technical for the user point of view. Apps are almost as many as for iOS even though not many fitness application have the same level of quality that they have on iOS.
But the thing that annoys me the most is the update of the operating system. Since every vendor has its own flavor of Android, you don’t get updates as soon as Google releases a new version. And it might be a long time before it happens (or might even never happen as it’s the case of my Xperia from 2014 which is still at Android 4.4). I know you can install ROMs and so on, but I’d rather spend my free time on OSS development and swimming, biking, and running and not fiddling with technology that should “just” work.
Do you also think the small experience of Microsoft with smartphones is over? Let me know in the comment here below.