Windows Phone Set for Big Marketing Push

By | Jan 9, 2012

Microsoft, along with AT&T and OEM partners Nokia and Samsung, are planning to spend $200 million over the next few months to promote Windows Phone technology. Microsoft's mobile offering will be given a full-court press, including financial incentives for salespeople who get customers to buy smartphones running the OS.

In the consumer marketplace, Microsoft has a great deal of ground to make up. Its earlier mobile releases were widely panned, and it currently claims only a small fraction of the US smartphone market. But Microsoft still owns the business desktop (and laptop), which means that mobile Windows could be a very big deal for IT operations at small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

"Full Hero Treatment"

As reported at TechCrunch, Microsoft and AT&T in particular will be giving Windows Phone the "full hero treatment," combining a major advertising presence as well as heavy in-store promotion. This last includes a potentially controversial element: financial incentives of $10 to $15 to salespeople for each Windows mobile device that they sell.

Such incentives could be seen as leading salespeople to push Windows on consumers even if it is not the ideal phone for them. On the other hand, a commenter at TechCrunch notes that such incentives for salespeople are nothing new. (And it is fair to say that the article itself starts off on a distinctly snide note toward Windows.)

In the mobile consumer market, Microsoft can use all the help it can get. While the latest Windows Phone release has drawn favorable reviews, and app support is growing, it currently claims only 5.2 percent of US smartphone subscribers. Compared to Apple's iPhone and various Android phones, its market visibility is almost nil. Hence, the advertising push.

Beyond the Consumer Market?

A case can probably be made that consumers could be interested in an alternative to the pricey iPhone and the varied performance of Android phones. But a Windows presence in mobile devices could be of particular interest to business IT.

Windows remains the overwhelmingly dominant environment at work, and the Office productivity suite is an indispensable toolkit for everything from quick memos to full-blown reports. A mobile technology that provides seamless integration with Windows and Office could thus be an enormous advantage for both individual workers and the IT professionals who must implement and manage mobile access to the company network.

All of this means that Microsoft does not really need to match Apple and Android in the consumer mobile space. It need only gain enough presence to make Windows Phone a credible option, especially for people who expect to use their smartphones not just for finding restaurants or playing games, but for doing business on the go.

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