Much like mayflies, Windows Phones didn’t enjoy the light of day for long. No matter how hard Microsoft tried, they couldn’t prevent their impending doom. Those who weren’t fond of Microsoft were only too happy to indulge in heated discussions about this failure.

But why did Windows Phone fail? Was it because of the stiff competition? Or maybe their lackluster design led to their downfall? In this article, we’re going to examine why the Windows Phone failed so miserably.

The rise and fall of Windows phone

Introduced in October 2010, the Windows Phone was meant to rival the prestige of the iPhone. Microsoft planned to achieve this by combining Windows Mobile and Zune into one.

The original Windows Phone featured the Windows Phone 7 operating system designed by Metro. Both C and C++ programming languages were used to create the first Windows Phones.

Intrigued by the product, many people bought Windows Phones after their debut. However, their curiosity was short-lived. These early Windows Phones couldn’t compare to other mobile operating systems.

When Windows Phone 7 arrived, it wasn’t much better. Neither consumers nor developers were impressed by its design. As a result, it didn’t have as many applications as iOS and Android. This ultimately proved to be one of the main reasons why Windows Phones failed.

Windows Phone 8 entered the market in 2012. Despite its innovative operating system, it couldn’t turn the tide of impending doom. In this industry, first impressions matter. And Windows Phone left many things to be desired.

Later, Microsoft tried to catch up with its rival brands. They tried doing so by scrapping physical buttons and making Windows Phone handset cameras optional. Unfortunately, these features failed to impress consumers.

Microsoft then further tried to patch things up by releasing Windows 10 mobile. This Windows mobile platform tried to enhance integrity between other Windows devices.

At this point, the Windows Phone had already earned its reputation and people weren’t willing to risk straying from their trusted brands. Its features are similar to that of Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 10 Mobile could hardly be called groundbreaking anyway.

Although Windows 10 Mobile could use most Microsoft software, people still barely expressed any interest in it.

At this stage, both iOS and Android thrived in the smartphone market. While they were fearsome megalodons, the Windows Phone was just an insignificant minnow.

As of 2008, Microsoft was collaborating closely with HTC and Sony Ericsson. Many of their devices used the Windows Mobile operating system. Although these devices weren’t bad, they couldn’t compete with the likes of Android and iOS. These two tech-moguls were ‘in’ at the time, while Windows Phone fell even deeper into obscurity.

To secure its own hardware production, Microsoft bought Nokia in 2014. After rigorous rebranding, Windows Phones now bore the Microsoft logo.

But history kept repeating itself. Most people already thought that Windows Phones were inferior to those from Apple and Android. The interest was simply non-existent. Microsoft further sealed its own fate when it continually refused to innovate its mobile apps. Instead, they relied too much on Nokia’s popular design.

It wasn’t long before other brands further enhanced their own designs. Since Windows Phones now had nothing to offer compared to their competition, they lost their relevance in the mobile industry. Of course, it took a while before Microsoft recognized this fact.

Statistics from 2015 reveal just how badly Windows Phones failed. Of all the smartphones sold, Microsoft could claim only 2.5%. Over 90% of sales belong to Apple and Android. With such a poor market presence, Microsoft’s failure was imminent.

In 2017, Microsoft finally admitted defeat. And in 2020, they moved their products to the end-of-life stage. After 2022, Microsoft will no longer support Windows 10 Mobile.

Why did windows phone fail – 9 flaws

1. Windows Phone OS

Although Windows might be a brilliant OS, it simply wasn’t compatible with such a tiny screen.

Imagine your computer desktop compressed into a small phone – that’s more or less how it looked.

2. Holes in the Windows CE foundation

During their creation, Windows Phones were designed with a version of Windows CE that hadn’t been completed yet.

The incomplete Windows CE platform limited the versatility of Windows Phones. As a result, they were outdated compared to rival brands.

3. Lack of app developers

Variety is the spice of life. Both Android and iPhone have known this for a long time. However, Microsoft failed to keep up in this department as well.

Despite their effort, they couldn’t amass enough app developers. This was because many people were already using iOS and Android phones at the time. Given the scarcity of Windows Mobile users, developers didn’t consider making apps for this platform profitable.

4. Loss of support from Google

In 2012, Google gave up on creating apps for Windows Phone 8. Although Google wasn’t such an iconic brand at the time, apps such as YouTube, Google Maps, and Gmail were widely popular.

After losing Google’s support, Windows Phones fell even further behind their competitors.

5. The Windows 8 fiasco

From the moment it entered the market, it was obvious that Windows 8 would be a failure. Thus, even those people who had been curious about Windows Phones were put off by the fiasco.

Of course, the two products have little in common. However, many people didn’t know this and frowned upon all Windows products equally.

6. Windows mobile OS couldn’t keep up with the competition

Windows Phones entered the market at an inopportune time. At this point, most consumers already owned an iOS or Android phone.

Customer loyalty can be a powerful driving force behind marketing. Even if they were better, Windows Phones wouldn’t necessarily establish themselves on the market back then.

7. The Windows mobile platform was too rigid

Neither the Windows Phone OS nor Windows 10 Mobile OS was customizable. But unlike Apple, these mobile OS didn’t offer any additional features. And naturally, the Windows Phone couldn’t compare to the prestige of the iPhone.

And while Android might be less prestigious, it had a very fluid mobile operating system. Thus, people who liked to customize their phones preferred an Android device instead of a Windows Phone.

8. Microsoft moved too slowly

In 2007, Apple revolutionized the smartphone market with its iPhone 7. It wasn’t long before Android joined in. Once again, Microsoft failed to follow suit.

Windows Phones relied heavily on their customer base, which contributed to their demise. Although they received a wake-up call in 2014, they couldn’t do anything at this point.

9. Poor value for money

Eventually, even their loyal customer base fell apart. Since Windows Phones lacked the features of their competitors, they slowly fell out of favor.

To make things even worse, Windows Phones were terribly overpriced. People just weren’t willing to pay for an obsolete mobile OS anymore – especially since they had better options.

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Final thoughts on why Windows Phone failed

So why did Windows Phone fail? It wasn’t because of one giant mistake. Instead, it was a series of smaller problems that accumulated over time.

From an obsolete interface to its untimely arrival in the phone business, Microsoft bit off more than it could chew. Despite its best effort, it couldn’t overcome these obstacles. Its valiant attempt to conquer the smartphone market crumbled in just a decade.

Microsoft’s greatest mistake was trying to manufacture both hardware and software for a single product. Other brands focused on just software, which allowed them to pour more energy into their devices.

Still, Windows Phones contributed greatly to the smartphone business. And if nothing else, you can consider their failure a textbook lesson for future entrepreneurs.

If you liked this article about the failure of Windows Phone, I have a few more interesting ones for you. Want to know what are the most successful Kickstarter campaigns? You should also check out these articles about why Vine failed, or why MySpace failed, entrepreneur podcastsstartup culture, and the best business YouTube channels.

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I'm the manager behind the Upcut Studio team. I've been involved in content marketing for quite a few years helping startups grow.