Most Canadians aren’t yet aware of the Windows Phone 7 platform, but more of them want to buy Microsoft Corp.’s new mobile offering rather than Google’s Android.
That’s the finding of a poll of 1,094 conducted between Oct. 22 and 25 by Delvinia Data Collection on behalf of ITBusiness.ca. The respondents were over 18, an even split of males and females and spread out across the country. Respondents were members of Delvinia’s AskingCanadians online panel.
Slightly more than one-third of respondents said they were aware of Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft unveiled the mobile operating system Feb. 15 at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress and the devices will be launched in North America Nov. 8.
Many industry observers see it as a serious bid to compete with the likes of Apple Inc., Research in Motion, and Google for mobile market share.
Microsoft could have done a better job of promoting their platform, says James Riley, a partner with Engine Digital and former marketing manager at MSN. It has some tough competition.
“Apple can put something out and every media outlet covers it,” he says. “Microsoft announces something and not that many people cover it.”
Microsoft has invested big dollars in past ad campaigns taking on Apple’s Mac vs. PC advertising.
One controversial gambit saw Bill Gates acting alongside Jerry Seinfeld in a series of off-the-wall commercials. But marketing for Windows Phone 7 has been more straight-forward.
Despite Canadians’ lack of awareness about the platform, nine per cent say they plan to buy a Windows Phone 7 device the next time they buy a phone. That just narrowly beats out Android at 8.8 per cent, but is behind iPhone’s iOS (25.9 per cent) and BlackBerry OS (20.5 per cent).
That an untested OS could beat out Android, which has been on the market for two years and is available on many devices, is a surprise, Riley says.
“It probably means that people trust Windows,” he says. “It’d be interesting to compare those stats to Mac vs. PC.”
Windows Phone 7 boasts a touch-screen based user interface that differs from iOS and Android by being based around hubs rather than applications. Users will tap blue rectangles to access hubs that group together various activities on the device – such as communications or gaming.
Microsoft also promises the OS will integrate well into its array of hardware and software products in both the consumer and business space. It’s gaming centre ties into Xbox Live, its search into Bing’s local capabilities, and its productivity features are compatible with Office.
“It’s not clear to me whether it will be a business productivity device at this point,” Riley says. “People who use Office are going to find the compatibility very convenient.”
At the same time, Microsoft may fail if it tries to do everything through its MSN platform, he adds. It will have to work with developers if it is to win over users from existing smartphone platforms.Microsoft says it already has 1,000 applications in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.