Why Windows Phone 7 Mango really matters

Announced during MWC11 back in February, Mango is Windows Phone 7’s first major update that will finally give the platform a feature parity with its main competitors; Android and iOS. Microsoft has already publicly disclosed most of the new features and improvements that will come with this new OS release and those who haven’t been officially unveiled are for the most part already known. Looking at all these new enhancements and additions coming-out later this year makes it perfectly clear that Microsoft isn’t standing still and instead perfectly aware that to compete in the rapidly changing & growing mobile market it has to act quickly.

Why is Mango so important? Because a timely release and flawless execution will show OEMs, carriers, partners and most importantly users that for the first time in Microsoft’s history the company is finally able to take user input, listen to critics, drastically update the product’s features, partner with the biggest mobile handset the world, acquire the biggest VOIP service in the world, all in less than year.

Sure, the update process was a total mess but things are apparently getting back on track in this department (still waiting for the Omnia 7 updates though..).  Yes, only one major update a year isn’t enough if we compare this to Android’s roadmap but who would have seriously thought that Microsoft would port IE9 to Windows Phone 7 and have it fully GPU accelerated this year? 1500+ new APIs ? Integrated Twitter and Live Messenger? Bing Vision Augmented reality search and Bing Audio song search and tagging? Voice-to-text input for SMS ? Native support for east-Asian languages with handwriting recognition? All in and ready to go. Once Mango roll out starts later this fall, Windows Phone 7 will finally be a really contender in the mobile OS market with unique and differentiating features that will really set the devices apart when compared to other platforms. This is what competition does. It pushes companies to the limit and forces them to either fight back or be irrelevant. Today’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Music Beta announcements should please even the most diehard Microsoft fans because this is the kind of stuff that make companies innovate on a daily basis. The next major milestone should, IMO,  be the availability of Bing’s unique features outside of the US and this is where Nokia will play a big role.

Some people will probably complain because the new hardware chassis specifications are not on par with the current high-end devices being released on Android and iOS. But this is a moot point and I have already explained why Microsoft doesn’t need the latest and greatest (and expensive) hardware to compete. Today’s Skype acquisition also points at a future chassis update with a front facing camera. But according to what was said during MIX11 nothing prevents OEMs to pack such a camera as long as the device’s specification doesn’t fall below the minimum specifications. So don’t be surprised if we see Windows Phone 7 Mango devices (or Windows Phone 7.5 if that’s how you want to call it) with front facing cameras this fall.

Let’s be realistic though. Mango won’t be enough because as we have seen with many products over the years; a good product can’t be a success without good marketing and PR. I’ve been bitching about this ever since WP7 launched in October of last year and continue to do so because I personally think that the marketing and PR around the Windows Phone ecosystem and platform just plain sucks. The product needs better advertising all over the world and less PR mumbo jumbo or apologies when something goes wrong. Boasting about the number of apps in the Marketplace is frankly totally useless in the grand scheme of things. The average Joe doesn’t necessarily reads unbiased tech blogs and surely not the Windows Phone Development blog. Let’s just hope that Microsoft will quickly learn from its mistakes in this department before the next holiday season. Mango is big, important but will really have to be backed by a great marketing push or else it will fall short.

  • http://netnate.net Matthieu Nate

    I enjoyed the article. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Good read building up to the WP VIP event.

  • XnailstormX

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Microsoft and all mobile carriers supporting Windows Phone need to step up and be more aggressive on the update front; neither side can afford to be wrong with Mango. I’m a proud owner of the Samsung Focus and I’ve had it since February. I liked it and was very livid at AT&T and Microsoft for botching up the update schedules. If all parties are going to be as active as they claim on this front, now is the time to prove it!