When it comes to the war for mobile phone supremacy, Microsoft knows that it is the underdog; that it needs to make some drastic moves to make a dent in the power bases of top dogs Apple and Google/Samsung. So Microsoft appears to have given its marketing wing carte blanche to do whatever it can to snipe at Android and iPhone. That battle has now busted into the realm of social media, specifically Twitter.
In an attempt to highlight the Android operating systems susceptibility to malware, the Windows Phone twitter account asked its followers on Wednesday to tell a “horror story” of Android malware with the hashtag #DroidRage.
Do you have an Android malware horror story? Reply with #DroidRage with your best/worst story and we may have a get-well present for you.— Windows Phone (@windowsphone) December 5, 2012
Predictably, this is not working out all that well for Microsoft. We have seen time and again how hashtag marketing campaigns on Twitter have turned against their creators and made the company making the call-to-action look foolish. To a certain extent, that is precisely what is happening to Microsoft and its #DroidRage stunt:
Is Microsoft still significant? #Droidrage— Frederick Yap (@frederickeyap) December 5, 2012
Not sure Microsoft's #droidrage campaign is the best way to differentiate. It is getting some funny responses however...— Andy Canty (@techcanty) December 5, 2012
It goes on like that.
Not all of the Twittersphere is down on #DroidRage though. Android is not a perfect mobile operating system and it is surely open for criticism. There is no perfect mobile operating system, of course, no matter how much the iOS/Android/Windows Phone/BlackBerry fans crow about how theirs is the best. Some tweeters are are taking Microsoft's invitiation to point out some of Android’s deficiencies, such as individual device performance and operating failures (but not malware so much).
Quad-core android phone, slower then its dual-core competition #droidrage— Charlie Ball (@HeyCharlieBall) December 5, 2012
The irony of the #DroidRage hashtag is that it targets Android’s proclivity towards malware from a Microsoft-made mobile operating system. Yeah, Microsoft is criticizing someone else about malware. This is the company that has dealt with more than a decade of malicious programmers and spammers attacking its Windows and Internet Explorer platform - mostly because it was the biggest and most susceptible target.
Android Does Have Vulnerabilities
The Windows Phone attack is not completely without merit. Apple keeps a very tight rein on what enters its app store and it has seen only a handful of malicious apps or file vulnerabilities in iOS. On the other hand, the open source nature of Android and its Google Play app store, along with its large user base, make Android an enticing target for hackers. Security firm Kaspersky Labs notes that more than 9,000 new malicious .dex files were added to its mobile malware database in the third quarter of 2012. Most of those files were designed to attack older versions of the Android operating system, specifically 2.3.6 Gingerbread.
One of the accepted rules in the malware industry is that malicious hackers target the biggest user base because that gives them the highest probability of success. Right now, Android is by far the biggest smartphone user base in the world and the ability to hack smartphones (any smartphone, not just Android) gives blackhats the opportunity to obtain unprecedented levels of personal information from their victims. One reason that Windows Phone has not yet seen a large degree of malware attacks or hacking attempts is because its market share is so small compared to iOS and Android. It's just not cost efficient for malicious hackers to target Windows Phone yet, much less Windows Phone 8. Make no doubt about it, though, if Windows Phone starts selling extremely well, the malicious hackers will come out of the woodwork en masse to probe its vulnerabilities.
When it comes to the war for smartphone supremacy, Microsoft needs to do whatever it can to attack the leaders. The biggest opportunity for Windows Phone to succeed is to steal market share from Android and the #DroidRage campaign is an attempt to do just that. The company just needs to make sure that it doesn't shoot itself in the foot.
What do you think of Microsoft’s #DroidRage Twitter campaign? A viable attack against Android or a marketing campaign gone horribly astray? Let us know in the comments.
Top image courtesy of developer isidromxz on XDA Forums.