In Part I of this post, I narrated my frustration in efforts to convince my friends of the virtues of Windows Phones. We kept going around in circles without getting anywhere for the lack of proper words to explain the OS features. I couldn’t help but compare it with the other platforms. The iPhone aficionado would just say FaceTime (Bang, it hits the target), iMessage (Bull’s Eye!!), Retina Display, Industrial Design, AirPrint (Bang Bang Bang!!!), while I’d just about manage to whimper a Bing, which no one notices (fortunately). Even the Android guy butts in with his Widgets, CyanogenMod, NFC, C2DM, Rooting etc sounding uber-cool without meaning anything to anyone, but my Windows Phone is reduced to be the butt of all jokes. Why this Kolaveri Di?
C’mon Microsoft, how could you do this to me, your loyal fan and unpaid promoter? Why are you so out of out of touch with the consumers? Why do you only coin words like Hyper V, Azure and Hadoop that appeal only to Mary Jo Foley and geeks, not to mention the easily misunderstood SkyDrive? Why don’t you hire some wordsmith who can actually translate your great products into words that are easily understood by the masses (and liked)? Why why why?
Let me give some examples. You added a wonderful feature in Mango whereby texting and IM was combined in Messaging. But all you did was to change the name from Message App to Messaging Hub. Huh? Why can’t it be called something like IntelliChat, or ChatLogic and advertised as a service that ‘intelligently’ allows messaging on cheaper networks (IM) when available and uses costlier texting as a last resort. You could later make an IntelliChat API which other IM services could adopt to be part of WP7 IntelliChat. Just like Facebook Chat has been added and Skype will be, in future. The consumers really don’t care if such cross platform clients like IM+ already exist? They would lap up IntelliChat like its manna from heaven.
Another example – When auto upload to Skydrive is enabled for pictures, a low res image is uploaded every time a photo is taken. Why not give it a name like SmartShare or SuperSync and pitch it as a premium feature that detects if the phone is on 2G/3G and uploads a low res image to keep down data costs and later syncs the actual image wirelessly over WiFi to your PC? For all you know, this could become the differentiating feature against which other OSes would be measured. Instead, it’s the subject of crude jokes by MS haters now!!
Ben Rudolf did such a wonderful job smoking other smart phones during CES 2012 showing how quickly you can do things on Windows Phones. But ask him what feature he used for posting on social networks and he has no reply except that Facebook and Twitter are integrated into the OS. Who cares? They don’t even know what an OS is. Instead, call it SpeedSocial or SuperSocial or RapidShare (ok, not RapidShare) or Lightning Social or Social-on-the-Fly. You could then make an ad saying – “Windows Phone has SpeedSocial that takes your social experience from pocket to Facebook in 10 seconds flat”. For good measure, this can be spoken really fast just like that Mutual Fund Investment line.
One of the key differentiators of WP7 is the Live Tile. What the heck, there is too much of Live already. Windows Live, Xbox Live, Live Mail, Live ID; now give it a break, will you? The word ‘live’ is ill-suited for mass communication anyway, because the verb and adjective are spelt the same but pronounced differently. For all we know, half the users may be pronouncing it like the verb and wondering why the damn tile is living (or why it sounds like Liv Tyler). Instead call this feature tiles as AutoRefresh or InstaUpdate or Active Tiles. Several other features of WP7 can similarly be made to sound unique and exclusive just by giving them catchy names and can be sold as such. Try that with Background Agents, Contextual keyboards, Bing Search, Battery Saver, OTA updates, Office Integration, Media play in the background etc and pitch them as premium features. Didn’t you add 500 new features in Mango? If only you had christened 50 of them creatively, we could have been talking about something entirely different today.
The above list is not exhaustive and I may also be excused if the suggested words sound corny. (See Disclaimer in Part I) Because that’s not the point I’m trying to make. My point is that Microsoft needs to give a linguistic spin to its features in order to sell them better. And while we’re at it, what’s with the OS name – Windows Phone 7? Does it take a genius to see how stupid this sounds – “This is a Dell phone that runs Windows Phone 7 OS”. And lets be honest, most people out there still call it Windows Mobile, so why not go back to it? It sounds great and we’ve left WM6.5 far behind. Its already 7.1 and soon will be 7.2/7.5 and 8.0 later this year. It can do you no harm, Microsoft. The people who used WM and hated it know very well that version 7 is totally unrelated. And the first time smart phone owners you’re trying to snare are more likely to adopt a platform that has a simple and logical name. What say you, readers? Should Tango be called Windows Mobile 7.5?
Update - Its nice of a user named Ryley to use this post on Microsoft’s User Voice Forum to suggest what changes Microsoft may bring about in their marketing/advertising strategy. I sincerely hope Microsoft does notice.