Why Windows Phone Will Beat BlackBerry: Apps & Microsoft

Windows Phone will succeed because Microsoft simply believes in it. It's a trophy, not a life raft.

ReadWrite's Dan Rowinski contends that BlackBerry will remain the No. 3 mobile platform, behind Google's Android and Apple's iOS. Hogwash. At this point, RIM could hand out a free puppy to every American who buys one of its phones, and it wouldn't make a dent in the population at the local animal shelter.

(See also: Why BlackBerry 10 Will Beat Windows Phone: It's Cool Again!)

RIM - excuse me, BlackBerry - executives are frantically trying to pole their sinking platform away from a tidal wave of Apple and Android phones, before the entire company itself is swept away. BlackBerry 10 is an "oh shit!" product, the panicked reaction of a company which grew fast, grew big and grew complacent. Meanwhile, Apple and the Android legions ate its lunch.

Windows Phone, however, stands on its merits.

Big, Bold, Beautiful Design

There's simply no way that anyone will confuse a Windows phone with an iPhone or an Android device. The bright, lively splashes of color that make up the Live Tiles interface entice you to play with them, and I simply love how the People widget refreshes with the most recent avatar pictures of your friends. Each widget can be resized dynamically, so you can align them in Android-like, "Space Invaders" rows, or else pick a few to dominate your screen.

Best-In-Class Camera

I've tried out enough smartphones to be quite impressed with the HTC 8X's camera - which, incidentally, easily surpasses my older HTC Sensation. While not good enough to replace a dedicated camera, some of my best pictures from my recent Dubai trip were actually taken with the HTC 8X - perhaps not of the quality of an single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera, but crisp, clear and without the smearing often associates with a smartphone camera.

The camera in the first BlackBerry 10 phone, the Z10, was dubbed an "abject failure" for its low-light performance, and Crackberry's test files shouldn't exactly fill BlackBerry fans with hope. 

Apps

Quite frankly, there are two things consumers want from their smartphones: quality pictures, which the Z10 already fails at, and apps. But Dan Rowinski himself already reported that 40% of the 70,000 apps in the BlackBerry World app store are just Android ports

On the Windows Phone platform, we know that Microsoft published 75,000 apps in 2012 alone, so the total number of apps tops BlackBerry by at least a slight margin. Neither Windows Phone 8 nor BlackBerry has the reach of either iOS or Android; most apps seem to be published first for iOS and Android, with the other smartphone platforms lucky to pick up the scraps later. On the other hand, I can use popular consumer apps like Slacker on my Windows Phone. On BlackBerry? Not so much. 

And if we look at "apps" as synonymous with "ecosystem," Windows Phone 8 wins hands-down. Windows Phone. PC. Xbox. Surface. They all talk to each other, and the game "Skulls of the Shogun," released last week, can be played on all four. BlackBerry stands alone, and the few mobile ecosystems that I can think of that tried the same thing are Symbian and WebOS. Yep, you know what happened to them.

Keyboard

Normally, this would be a category I would be prepared to hand to the BlackBerry crowd. Mobile keyboards have been BlackBerry's traditional strength. But hang on - BlackBerry makes suggestions by hovering the suggested word over the letters on the keyboard? Windows Phone works the way people expect it to. I still prefer Android's predictive guesswork, but Windows Phone isn't half bad.

User Experience

I'm not totally in love with Microsoft's "one app at a time" approach, but I can live with it. And there are some truly delightful touches: the Live Tiles are one, and using my Facebook photos as my lock screensaver brings a smile to my face every time I unlock the phone.

Reputation

At this point, within the United States, RIM's name is poison. That's why the company changed it to BlackBerry. Granted, I've been hard on Microsoft Windows 8 and its other products, too. But while Windows Phone *is surviving, RIM's diving like a dead duck. 

Windows Phone is a fresh, new brand. Showcasing Jessica Alba - a celebrity and mom - as one of the faces of the brand was inspired.

The Enterprise

Yes, BlackBerry has a strong case here. When all else fails, BlackBerry can retreat to its walled fort, the enterprise. But the days when corporations could hand out whatever cell phones it wanted employees to use are ending. The practice of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) favors devices with more consumer appeal, which includes Windows Phone.

Why Windows Phone Will Beat BlackBerry

Ever since I tried out the HTC 8X at Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 launch, I've been torn between it and the Android-powered Galaxy Nexus. In fact, if they had used the same SIM-card form factor (the HTC 8X uses a micro-SIM, while the Nexus uses a standard SIM) I may have switched. They both run on T-Mobile, my network provider. 

RIM has the stink of failure hanging over it; it's no great stretch to imagine that if BB10 fails, down goes the entire company. Microsoft's already tried and failed with its own social phone, the Kin, and kept on swinging. This time around, Microsoft is going to put the "bury" in BlackBerry. As in six feet under.


Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.