Windows Phone is regarded by many as not being able to compete with the mighty Apple iOS and Google’s Android-powered smartphones. Indeed, we’d usually agree with the argument that Microsoft is “doomed to irrelevance in the mobile age”. However, it may be time to reconsider the reports of the imminent death of Microsoft’s smartphone operating system. According to the latest figures, it certainly is not dying in the UK.
Smartphone operating system market shares for the year ending December 2015 compared to the year end 2014 shows some interesting trends. Android’s market share grew by 1.8 percent while Apple’s iOS declined by 3.1 percent. Meanwhile, Windows Phone showed better growth than Android at 2.3 percent (albeit from a much lower base).
A curious fact which emerges from the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech global analysis shows that the UK is the only Western market where Microsoft phones are showing growth. In China, Windows showed a 0.5 percent growth in a market currently dominated by Apple.
The performance of Windows Phone in the UK is probably linked to the success of Microsoft’s Lumia 950 and 950 XL handsets which were launched in November. Both phones have been well received by the public and if they had been released earlier in 2015 the UK sales growth for Windows Phone would have been even more impressive. This success contradicts Gartner’s view last year, which predicted that the Lumia won’t have much of an impact on Microsoft’s dismal performance in the global markets.
It’s not all good news for Microsoft though as the overall Windows Phone market share has tumbled across the globe to 2.2 percent and analysts do not see much hope for improvement from that base. Without strong support from OEM partners and mobile app development, the future looks bleak for Microsoft mobile. However, the new Lumia handsets are very popular with users who want a functional smartphone without much need for additional software or applications. And this market will probably keep driving the sales of Windows Phone.
What do you think? Where do you see Windows Phone this time next year?
Name the number one gripe most iPhone users have and there is a good chance that a large percentage of them will complain about battery life. Trying to squeeze your phone battery to last from breakfast until you get back from the pub at midnight is virtually impossible for most users. And that is the case even without heavy YouTube viewing or passing time on the bus or train with your favourite game. Apple has assured buyers of the new iPhone 6S that battery use will be much better than before. But many users are not confident that this is indeed the case.
Now Facebook has announced that maybe, just maybe, their iOS app could be a silent battery strangler!
It took user complaints to prompt the social media giant to acknowledge there could be a problem with Facebook on iPhones. One such user is entrepreneur Matt Gilligan who found that Facebook was causing a 15% battery drain on his iPhone 6S Plus over a seven day period. As he stated in his blog: “Despite having background app refresh disabled, because the app isn’t ‘sleeping’ properly when I hit the home button, it continues to drain. That extraneous background usage, despite not providing any value to me at all, is keeping the app alive 2x longer than my actual usage.”
It has been reported in other publications that users are finding heavy battery drain by Facebook in spite of having background refresh disabled. One user reported that Facebook was draining 39% of his battery and running for eight hours in the background with the app disabled.
One of the problems could be the auto-play of videos which is enabled by default on both wifi and mobile data. This could be a contributing factor to the heavy battery drain, as well as causing excessive data usage.
What we do know is that Facebook is dealing with the issue and it is likely that an unannounced patch will be part of the next upgrade – hopefully thereafter your phone will wait until you get home from the pub before passing out!
We’ve been working on a recap of the biggest stories in mobile and tech from last year. With our good friend Scottie Ladeaux we’re going to bring you a new post looking back on our picks from 2013 every Thursday.
We talk about the history of Nokia and what this acquisition means for them as well as the whole future of the battle between various smartphone operating systems. We also question the role of Stephen Elop in the relationship between Microsoft and Nokia.
It wasn’t a complete surprise to everyone, but this news shook up the entire business world and is sure to play a huge role in shaping the future of smartphones and mobile tech in general.
Nokia may have been in the business since the ’70s and produced the first handheld mobile ever but soon after the first smartphones came out they’ve been in decline. The Finnish company were the world’s biggest handset manufacturer for fourteen years but in 2012 Samsung emphatically replaced them.
Despite a massive marketing budget and lucrative royalty-sharing deals, their Windows Phone mobiles make up fewer than 5% of smartphones sold and Nokia have forced through a massive savings strategy. But even with 15,000 redundancies, they have been haemorrhaging cash and their revenues crashed from over €7 billion to just under €3 billion in the second quarter of 2013.
Nokia had been all but written off until September last year when Microsoft announced they’d be acquiring the whole company in a massive £4.6 billion (or $7.2 billion) deal. Microsoft also agreed to invest an additional €1.5 billion in financing to help with the Finnish company’s cash flow woes and debt issues.
It’s an industry open secret that, unlike other rival manufacturers, Nokia chose not to partner with Android when it first came out as they feared they would not survive the competition of Google’s market. Instead their plan was to join Microsoft and aim to control a whole vertical with their phones being manufactured from Nokia components rather than off-the-shelf parts. But nobody predicted they’d end up being owned by them.
This shakes up the entire smart phone market. Now, there really are only three big players left – Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s with Windows Phone. Previously, BlackBerry had also been in the running but with Microsoft choosing Nokia over them, it’s hard to see a place for BlackBerry in the future of smart phones. Especially since their revenues have also plummeted in recent years and due to their internal issues which we discussed in video #5 in this countdown.
However, some saw a conspiracy in the demise of Nokia. Stephen Elop was the head of Microsoft’s Business Division for two and a half years before he took over as Nokia’s CEO in September 2010. This was the first time that Nokia had a non-Finnish director and he received a $6 million golden handshake.
Elop’s reign at Nokia was fraught with controversy. It was under his leadership that Nokia’s internally-developed operating systems – Symbian and Meego – were in favour of Microsoft’s OS. He also deriding the company in public statements and some suspected him to be a Trojan horse-style saboteur destroying them from the inside.
The fact that Nokia’s market cap has plummeted over the last few years. has meant that it’s ripe for the picking and Microsoft were able to snatch up a bargain compared to a few years ago. There were rumours that Microsoft would try to buy Nokia ever since he was appointed and as part of the deal Elop will now return to Microsoft as head of their Devices team. But
Regardless, this acquisition will be remembered a major event in the history of mobile phones. Microsoft has been struggling to keep up as a technology company in the age of mobile and if they want to salvage any of the success they’ve retained since the ’90s it’s in many ways an entirely necessary gamble.
Still, the duopoly of Android and iOS seems incredibly solid at the moment and it’s hard to see how they can chip away at their market share. However, it is clear that they are willing to spend and do whatever it takes to have a chance to be one of the major players in this business. The strategy has been failing so far, so it’s hard to see how ploughing even more money in can make a drastic difference. But it certainly makes things much more interesting for the next few years and it can only be good for consumers to have more competition and innovation.
What did you think of this series? Do you reckon we covered all the major stories in tech and mobile from last year or we there some that we omitted? And what’s your take on the Microsoft-Nokia deal? Could Elop really have been a plant devised to produce a preferential price?