The Windows Phone space seems eerily quiet. Microsoft isn't booking appointments to show off new devices at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month. The rumor pipeline is also cold, beyond tantalizing whispers of a “Surface phone” that some hope could be the savior of Microsoft’s smartphone business. According to AdDuplex, the most popular Windows Phone remains the Lumia 520, released in April 2013.
To be fair, Microsoft has never officially said it plans to discontinue its smartphone business. But Microsoft’s woes in the smartphone space are well known: a shortage of third-party apps, plus a Windows 10 Mobile operating system seemingly designed for the small, loyal cadre of existing Windows enthusiasts. I’ve always been a fan of the Lumia hardware, especially the new Continuum feature, but many of the features that have sold Lumia phones in the past now appear on Android phones and iPhones—in part, because Microsoft put them there.
Microsoft continues to sell Windows Phone overseas, nearing 10-percent penetration in the United Kingdom and other European countries. But in the United States, comScore puts it at 2.8 percent, and falling—and that’s for November.
Reputation can buoy or bury a product, and once a brand attracts the stink of failure, that’s it. Microsoft hasn’t killed the Lumia line. Neither has the press, or retailers. It’s the customers that have walked away from Windows Phone, leaving it by the side of the road.
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