It makes no sense to keep rolling out new Microsoft powered smartphones if no one is building apps for them. Microsoft really needs to do something to get major developers to develop for the Microsoft mobile platform if they need their phones to survive another 2 years.
Just a few days ago I lost my phone in an Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi to Lagos, I was returning from a much-needed holiday with my family in Dubai and mysteriously my Huawei Mate 7 smartphone got missing. All efforts to recover the phone were fruitless and I resigned to my faith to move on.
I had to get a replacement fast as my entire life practically revolved online. The logical upgrade for me was the Huawei Mate 8 and since that phone was yet to be easily available, I resolved to pick up a temporary phone just to get me online and keep me connected till the Mate 8 became available. I didn’t want a Samsung for personal reasons (Yes, I know they are great but just didn’t like the fact that too many people had it) so I toyed around with the Sony Xperia Z5 and surprisingly an ultra slim phone from Wiko; I have always loved the Z series but it was way above my budget for a temporary phone, the Wiko was well priced and looked great, the limitation was that the storage could not be expanded above the internal 16GB…yikess!!! I had a look at the P8 from Huawei as well but the screen was too small and cost didn’t fit my budget. I was very excited about the Infinix Zero 3 and would probably have bought it, had I seen it.
My search continued and I spend hours comparing various low-budget but capable smartphones. My ideal phone had to have a large screen, at least 2GB of memory and look great. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw the Microsoft stand nearby and smiled thinking to myself, “there was no way I was going to get one of those”. I walked over nonetheless to have a look at the phones on displayed and surprisingly, they actually did look great and fit perfectly into my budget for a temporary phone. Memory wise, it was less than what I planned to pick up but I compromised on that.
To cut the long story short, I settled for the Microsoft Lumia 640XL, a giant 5.7in smartphone with the much publicized Carl Zeiss lens. It wasn’t really cutting edge compared to the android devices I had used and even examined in the store, but I was sold on two key features; the large 5.7in screen and the look and feel of the phone. What was there to lose I thought, it was only a temp phone. I was also excited about trying something new for a change, I had always used androids and Apple devices so this was something new for me.
Something in me kept telling me this was a bad choice but I convinced myself, it was a temporary phone and I would be moving to my Huawei Mate 8 soon. I really did like the phone but for someone like me who has always been an android man, I was in for loads of disappointment.
The problem started from the minute I powered on the phone with my newly recovered sim card inserted. I needed a Microsoft Live account !!! I guess this was expected to get the full features of the phone but I had one too many email accounts already – as at last count, more than 15!!! I went ahead to open one and setup my phone completely. I played around with the phone and it was pretty good, so far it wasn’t too bad.
I connected my main Gmail account and all my contacts, emails and calendars synchronized onto the new phone with no issues – what a blessing!!! I wasn’t quite sure this would work well but it did. Contacts I had saved just boarding the plane in Abu Dhabi were all visible, thank God for Google sync.
The real issue became clear when it was time to find and install all my apps and trust me I have lots of them and unlike most people, I actually do use my apps. The popular social media apps like Facebook and Twitter were easy to find. I couldn’t find Snapchat to install and I immediately knew there would be a problem.
I found a version of Instagram, which was still in BETA and was simply horrible to use. Navigating the Instagram BETA app felt very tedious and guess what, I couldn’t upload videos. I couldn’t just find my top apps. Most of what I found where versions made by independent developers and didn’t quite work like the real thing – This was all just wrong.
Your phone, no matter how expensive it is, is only just as powerful as the apps you have installed on them. Apps give your phone their real value, I might as well just be carrying a piece of expensive brick without my apps installed.
I had just purchased one of the new DJI Phantom 3 Professional drones and was eager to get it to fly. Guess what? There is no Microsoft app for this drone. I searched and searched and could find no easy way to get the drone to connect to my new Windows phone; what a disappointment. Luckily I had an Apple iPad mini tablet, which came to the rescue here.
I have several unique paid apps I use on the Play store, I could find none of them in the Windows store.
You need to take these into consideration if you suddenly found a really amazing Microsoft phone you are thinking of getting. Will you be able to get you favorite apps to run on them? I haven’t been able to; all my fun apps are all not here. I am already having a feeling of being “left behind”, disconnected despite being online on this phone. All the great stuffs are missing and when you do find some, they sort of feel like cheaper clones.
No matter how great a phone you make, if users cannot find great apps to use on them, then it might as well just be a fruitless effort, people will not buy your phones and this is probably evident in the sales of Microsoft phones globally. I know I generalize a bit too much here, there are a few people who don’t care about apps on their phones, they are ok with making calls, sending SMS, chatting on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Forget about trying to match features with the most recent Android phones, concentrate on getting developers to embrace your platform and develop quality apps, not the knock-offs I see all over the Microsoft store.
Without my apps, the 640XL is an epic fail for me, I bought it, so I guess I am stuck with it for a few weeks, I can’t wait to jump back on the Android side of things, it’s so much more fun on that side. J
UPDATE: The pain of using the Microsoft phone was just unbearable, I went out the very next day and got myself a Samsung Galaxy Note 5. What a super gorgeous phone.