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How Windows Phone can become a powerful 3rd placer (listen up, Microsoft)

Dear Microsoft,

I love Windows Phone. No really, I do. It’s very easy to use, and easier still on the eyes with its very impressive design aesthetic that actually puts both Android and iOS to shame.

All that isn’t helping with the market share numbers however. And that must be bugging your corporate HQ. Fortunately, it looks like you’re here for the long haul, despite your teensy global market share (just 1.18 percent of total phones, according to StatCounter Global Stats). By contrast, Android gets 37 percent, iOS gets 27 percent… and BlackBerry gets 3.2 percent. Even Samsung’s own homegrown OS has more market share than you do.

So listen up. I’ll tell you how you could quickly and easily become a strong number three player, with potential to be the number two.

You know how your hardware partner Nokia is still churning out feature phones left and right for economy markets? Yes, Nokia’s Series 40 phones still own some 12.5 percent of the global phone market, and Symbian still holds nearly 8 percent.

No, you can’t force Nokia to transform these into Windows Phone devices. That’s because you are essentially charging an arm and a leg for your OS fee. And for the kind of markets that want feature phones, price is a big issue.

Instead, here’s what you can do.

Create a stripped down version of Windows Phone. Call it Windows Phone Lite or something. It shouldn’t be that hard. Design it for smaller screens, minimal connectivity requirements, and just make sure that it runs basic apps (that come stock with the phone) and it runs a decent camera app. You don’t even need to run much apps anyway when dealing with feature phones, so there’s no need to encourage any third-part developer activity for this Lite platform.

And then essentially give it away as a goodwill operating system. For feature phone users.

Next, convince pal Nokia to switch from Series 40 and Symbian (and whatever the heck its Asha phones run on) to switch all future feature phone development to Windows Phone Lite. Because it’s free anyway. And hey, maybe as further incentive give Nokia a billion dollars or so to compensate for its past feature phone development work.

Finally, spin the strategy by saying that Windows Phone Lite is essentially still Windows Phone, so everyone should count any sale of Windows Phone Lite to be a sale in the Windows Phone universe.

Congratulations! Henceforth, you can now look forward to owning a big chunk of the feature phones market, with phones that critics could no longer define as being either feature phone or smartphone. You may end up taking over the 12.5 percent Series 40 market and the 8 percent Symbian market. That gives you, hmmm, about 22 percent market share. Way more than BlackBerry’s, and just touching distance short of iOS market numbers.

And it wouldn’t cost you much to do this. And you get a lot of media mileage.

Sure, you’ll fragment your OS into two kinds, Regular and Lite, but then that’s still less fragmentation than either Android or iOS has right now.

There. You’re welcome. Now where’s my paycheck?

Art

 

Art

Art

Art is a long-time editor for a number of technology publications. He is a Palanca-winning writer (he got lucky) whose day job is to try to be as serious as possible while being a management consultant and lecturer. His favorite noodles: chapchae.

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