Microsoft: 4G LTE Windows Phones coming and the iPhone 4S gives us an opening
In a fairly candid interview with the Seattle Times, Andy Lees, President of Microsoft's Windows Phone Division, answers some questions about Windows Phone, Mango, OEMs, advertising and more.
There are some typical responses, like on the iPhone 4S (see review at TiPb) since it's only one form factor, it doesn't offer consumers a choice. Meanwhile, Android is "chaotic" with some phones being excellent and others being sub-par, resulting in a mishmash of offerings on that platform.
Regarding advertising, it seems in the U.S. it is mostly up to the carriers with some OEM involvement whereas in the rest of the world, OEMs have more freedom to define their phone and experience. In fact, the strategy doesn't sound too different than what Microsoft has previously done in the past--which may not bode too well:
Lees: "In the United States, the operators own the vast majority of the retail through which phones are purchased. That's not true in many other parts of the world. I would say the OEM is disproportionately important in most parts of the world. And in the U.S., it's probably a balance between the OEM and the operator."
Q: So are there commercials that Microsoft is producing that they will all use?
Lees: "What we want to do is allow each hardware manufacturer to celebrate what's unique about their phone."
In other words, don't expect any Microsoft commercials or at least a broad campaign.
The other interesting bit on 4G LTE, which Microsoft seems keen on offering sooner than later, presumably with Tango:
Lees: "All the phones in the U.S. are 4G. What's interesting with this release, instead of all the phones coming out on the same day, there will be a season that will carry on into the next year that will include LTE phones as well."
Finally, Lees certainly has realistic ideas about Windows Phone. While we think 2012 could be a big year for the platform, he's taking a more long view approach, keeping expectations in check:
Q: Is this going to be your breakout year, do you think?
Lees: "A few things: The Xbox will be updated in November. The UI (user interface) is very similar (to Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows 8) with the tiles and panoramas. Windows 8 is going to help. In terms of just the phone, having the choice of hardware and the quality of the experience are going to be accelerants. Over the next 12, 18, 24 months, I can see a lot of stars lining up."
Read more at the Seattle Times here.