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The problems facing Windows Phone 7

Everybody's already a lap ahead of Microsoft

Microsoft officially launched its highly anticipated Windows Phone 7 mobile platform yesterday. However, it's already clear the the company faces some huge hurdles in the race to create a popular smartphone platform.

The major problem for Windows Phone 7 is that it's three years late to the party thrown by Apple, and another operating system, Google's Android, has already become the iPhone's main competitor.

Microsoft's late attempt to save its mobile skin brings lots of other complications, detailed below. Though I won't go so far as to call Windows Phone 7 a failure before it even launches, these are real concerns that need to be addressed.

Missing features

The short list: No copy-and-paste at launch (it's coming in January), along with no true multitasking, no HTML 5, no Flash. While I have a feeling these feature will eventually come to Windows Phone 7, especially when customers start voting with their wallets. And Microsoft has been talking to Adobe, which could mean Flash support is already in the cards. For now, whatever enthusiasm I have for Windows Phone 7 is hampered by these omissions.

'Wait and see' from developers

Microsoft has paid some developers to ensure a healthy base of apps at launch - smart move - but as Robert Scoble recently pointed out, the "long tail" of apps can be just as important as the hits. A huge selection ensure that your app itch can be scratched, and many developers are still waiting to see how Windows Phone 7 performs.

Puzzling ads

Marketing is not Microsoft's strong suit - see the Internet Explorer 8 adverts - and the ads for Windows Phone 7 are not encouraging so far. A teaser video that surfaced last month promised 'revolution', but didn't show the phone actually operating. An advert that appeared on YouTube in late December, and was later taken down by Microsoft, derided the 'stop-and-stare' nature of other phones. (Windows Phone 7 teaser advert)

I'm pretty sure compulsive smartphone use occurs because they're fun devices, irresistible during idle time, not because of deficiencies with any particular phone. What is Microsoft trying to say?

See also: Microsoft: No Windows Phone 7 for tablets

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