The Real iWorld Houston

Recently I spent almost a week surrounded by the most dedicated Microsoft fans you can find – not fanboys or techs, but business people who have chosen to align themselves with Microsoft and build business models around its technologies.

At the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Houston I was surrounded by thousands of people with Windows Phone devices – the Nokia Lumia 900/920 being the most popular (you can easily tell by the colours), with HTC being a distant second.

The amount of people using Surface devices (either RT or Pro) grew quickly throughout the week as attendees took up the opportunity to buy the devices at ridiculously low prices.

Even I bought a Surface RT for $99 because at that price – why wouldn’t you? It’s cheaper than a digital photo frame and in my house will most likely get relegated to that duty, as well as cookbook as well as other consumption services. This is only because both my wife and I already have Surface Pro’s as our work/personal devices and our daughter is too young (14 months) for her own tablet (yet).

The startling call back to reality was when I arrived back at the airport and was greeted with the sight of iPhones being used by people of all ages, and iPads with keyboard cases being used as portal productivity devices.

While it’s great to see the Surface and Windows 8 are slowly being accepted as viable choices for both consumer and business adoption, as well as the steady (albeit slow) increase in Windows Phone usage – Microsoft is a distant competitor when looking at mainstream adoption of consumer technology.

The stark contrast between the reality distortion field of WPC and the outside world shows that Microsoft has a long journey ahead if it wants to reclaim hearts and minds of end users.

Personally I don’t ever believe it will ever have a majority – there will be a continual battle between the 3 major smartphone & tablet OS giants.

I do strongly believe that Microsoft should really be pushing out its generation 1 & 2 devices to the consumer market at a low cost to establish a beachhead. Firstly ensure mass adoption through cheap devices, lock people into the ecosystem, then slowly raise the prices and introduce chargeable services. While Microsoft has a long and established history – in the smartphone and tablet market I believe it needs to act like a new entrant trying to prove itself.

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