In the last few years, Apple has passed Microsoft like a Formula 1 car passing a minivan on their way to becoming the largest tech company in the world. There are several factors that helped them get there.
They realized the future is in smart mobile devices in consumer ends while everyone was still trying to sell them only to business users (that was obvious in the UI, hardware and cost of smartphones and tablets that existed before the iPhone came out)
They didn’t play by the mobile industry rules. They didn’t bend to appease carriers demands. They make more money on each iPhone sold than Android/Windows Phone manufacturer make on their phones. A lot more.
They did a great job at marketing their products. Every small feature was revolutionary, invented and patented by them. Even when it was far from the truth. They said it, the local news repeated it and even tech savvy people actually believe it. It’s hard to be surprised when a jury that heard that on TV or read it in the papers finds that Samsung copied from Apple when most of those patents had prior art.
A big part of their marketing plan is announcing the new revolutionary phone(usually having some surprises in the announcement) and having it available soon after. They also limit the availability, because it’s proven that a hot product that’s flying off the shelves will created more demand (see the Nintendo Wii, Kinect and any iDevice when they were released). Faking your way to long lines and empty shelves might feel like lying, but so does saying you have the greatest maps app when you only started working on it less that a year before that statement. It’s just what Apple does.
They also pick a couple of features and hammer them in with ads. With the iPhone 4S it was siri (even though it wasn’t really new, it was available as an app long before Apple bought it) with the iPhone 5 it’s the size and the panorama feature (both are things that Android and WP7 did before)
So is Microsoft learning from Apple?
well, they are trying.
They scheduled the Windows Phone 8 launch event for October 29th, The phone will be in stores the weekend after. That’s the kind of announcement to release window Apple does.
They have great new features in the WP8 OS, features Apple will call revolutionary when ever they get around to implementing them.
They have OEM partners, making the cost factor irrelevant for them, it’s not how they’re making money right now.
They’re trying to keep things under wraps with WP8 , but they already announced almost everything there was to announce. They want to keep things secret so badly, they’re telling developers they don’t care about them or their apps (even tough the main point against WP is actually some key apps missing, not total numbers, but key apps). Not that it helped (the top secret SDK was leaked very quickly, and didn’t have anything new really)
Maybe the fact that no local news channel picked up on any of the WP announcements (because it wasn’t Apple) means it doesn’t matter that all the new features and device details are already known because their target audience doesn’t really know about it, it’s only us tech geeks. Maybe they’ll be able to get that local news coverage with the 10/29 event. The Windows 8 launch the Friday before (on the 26th) will help too, reporters and analysts are already confused by Windows 8 and WP8. Potential buyers might come in to stores to look at the new Windows 8 tablets and that confusion could at least get them to look at Windows phones.
So Microsoft is trying, but they’re kind messing it up. Maybe next time they’ll learn. Maybe they will also have the new OS and devices ready for a September launch to compete with the next iPhone. Because what really hurts WP8 is the lack of devices in the carrier stores when the big draw of the iPhone brings all these people in. The Lumia 920 and iPhone 5 side by side? I gotta think it will convert at least some users to WP.
So either the confusion gets people looking at WP8, or it’s a slow haul for Microsoft. One thing for sure, with the Android licensing fees they’re getting, they can keep working on WP for a while, and if Nokia can’t stay with it and Samsung/HTC decide to stop supporting it, Microsoft can always go with a The Surface Windows Phone. you know you want one…