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back to article Microsoft's master stroke: Pay store staff per WinPhone sold

Microsoft, which has suffered years of irrelevance in mobile, has a new game plan, which looks suspiciously like its old game plan: pay retail employees to sell Windows. Microsoft isn't alone in trying to find incentives with partners to unseat Apple, but the bluntness of its approach will irk many as classic Microsoft. With a …

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Ok....so let me get this right.

"Corporate giant offers financial incentives to sales people in order that they push their products to a greater extent"?

Reg - I need icons for the following:

A wooded area

A bear

A turd

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FAIL

Well your last item sums up WP7 perfectly.

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"A turd"

Or a Winphone.

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Maybe we should come up with a name for this new, ground breaking practise.

How about "commission"?

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Devil

desperation?

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@hplasm

That seems to fit well too :-)

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FAIL

Doomed to failure

I suspect the slow uptake of WP7 has nothing to do with it not being marketed or pushed by retailers properly.

It's the fact that 10 times in the past 30 days, I have been told by various websites they have an app available, only to discover they don't have a WP app. Which means the HTC Trophy I *have* to use for work (their security policy) is starting to look like a fancy paperweight.

I would not be surprised if Microsofts strategists are all so young, they don't recall what did for Betamax ......

And once again, I am going to bewail the lack of a call-recording app. Especially when an acquaintance in t'pub showed me there are at least 6 available on his android phone. So please, no mindless downvoters, wittering on about "the law" .....

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WTF?

But surely A leads to B, leads to C? The More WP7 gets out there, the more apps wil become available.

Of course there are probably 6 recording apps available on Android - there's at least sixty times as many phones!

It's like complaining that there aren't enough games for the Playstation Vita - give it time.

And if financial incentives are what it takes to increase WP7 in the marketplace, which in turn leads to app development for it becoming more widely adaopted, then that's a good thing.

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Angel

Is your complaint not just a direct consequence of being a newcomer to market? Android and iOS suffered the same app problems at their stage in life. And from what I can tell Microsoft is actually doing quite well at getting devs on side.

I'm not downing your comment as I see what you mean, but it does strike me as pretty much saying, if you can't compete with the current market leader in every respect from the first iteration, don't bother trying because you'll fail!

I prefer the notion of competition and encourage all to *build* a competitor, whether the underdog be Microsoft or not. Imagine the world where you only had iOS and Android, and Android continued it's copy Apple look/feel playbook. There would be little innovation! It's WP, MeeGo and webOS which seem to have 'come at things from a different angle', so good luck to them all!

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Anonymous Coward

"that's a good thing"

Before Barry Shitpeas comes along to tell us it isn't a good thing, yes it is a good thing because it means there's competition which improves value for consumers. So unless you work for Google (ie, you are a corporate shill) then Microsoft being out there to compete is a good thing you. Yes you. Personally.

Fortunately, the forthcoming "Tango" spec for low-cost phones means even more scope to compete with (and thus improve the value of) Android, which should delight Android fans.

And they're already competing with the high end, which also puts pressure on Apple to keep up so the fanbois should also approve.

Something tells me this logic will not be well-received but hey, we can but try.

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Er

I have had the phone over a year now - hardly a "newcomer" in IT terms.

And notice, I have no grumble with WP7 per se (in actual fact, I quite like it). But when I can't get an Amazon, Chiltern Railways, Lloyds TSB, iPlayer app for it, whilst android and iOS users can, then it sucks. And it seems other people where I work agree too. I notice the next batch of smartphones being trialled are all android - with the MD himself signing off any extra cost.

That said, I *did* just load up the TiVoRemote app to play with at home, so there might be a chance !

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An awful lot of 'apps' for ios and android that people use provide no more functionality (and often less) than html.

I agree it must suck bigtime not having the same number of games and true applications (like the call recorder you mention), hopefully some that that will come in time as that platform develops and gains popularity. I just switched from wm6.5 to android. I've used ios, not hugely impressed, its probably better when you get used to it. I'm no advocate of any one of them. The damn thing just needs to work. I'd have gotten a wp7 phone if there were better handsets (and maybe if 7.5 had been out).

The majority of people reading el reg are relatively tech savvy, but they're a tiny fraction of the smartphone owning segment. The reason apple and google like apps is because they allow for segmentation of the market. It seems many companies just 'have' to have an app that usually just replicates functionality that already or could exist on their website. Amazon, newegg, imdb ad nauseum. Shit that's what safari / dolphin / explorer are for, but many folks don't know that.

Wp7 needs a serious boost to get it going, once it has critical mass it could be a solid 3rd place choice. I don't think it needs to aspire to beat google on numbers or apple on looks. With phones getting more powerful I can see emulators occuring. Once wp7 gets more 'mindshare' it will get more apps (real applications) and become a more valid proposition, or it may just tank!

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Stop

And for apps...

You need developers.

And for developers, you need a userbase....

Windows Phone is screwed, because the only developers so far interested, as those paid to do so by Microsoft. They is no real developers, because there are no users, and there are no users because WP7 is crap and has no apps.

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"It's the fact that 10 times in the past 30 days, I have been told by various websites they have an app available, only to discover they don't have a WP app. Which means the HTC Trophy I *have* to use for work (their security policy) is starting to look like a fancy paperweight."

So you're saying that your employer insists you use a WP7 cell phone for 'security' reasons but then does allow you to install some apps you found on the web on your own?

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"So unless you work for Google (ie, you are a corporate shill) then Microsoft being out there to compete is a good thing you. Yes you. Personally."

Yes, if they are competing on quality. Simply bribing people to flog your shit is not the same thing at all.

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Anonymous Coward

WP7 fails... elephant in the room...

Maybe, just maybe, it's because the Metro tile UI looks like juvenile shite, and first impression counts for most purchasers of smartphones.

Hence, the less-than-stellar sales figures, and the desperate antics to kickstart the 'third ecosystem'.

Or, if you would believe the MSFT astroturfers (which El Reg is getting a boatload recently), I'm an astroturfer from one of the rival brands, I'm an irrational Microsoft hater, and WP7 is really innovative and solid and funner, and 'my wife loves it'.... blah...'.

You decide.

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agreed

Not having Skype or kakaotalk or city index or any apps useful in my daily life is pissing me off. Ig index just came on board and now find themselves with a 5k deposit courtesy of yours truly. I just got my partner an android. Little bit jealous. But my win phone is so much slicker and lovely well thought ui, if lacking a little bit on apps :-(. Will probably go to android if no Skype in 1 months time on wp7. Due for a phone change. Crashing Zune fucks me off too on HTC hd7 and that subscription is going down too.

Love the phone, but can't hack the lack of completeness anymore. Will definitely be on board for 8 though. That should be a game changer.

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Unhappy

I have to agree about Skype

Apart from a Reg app (and I'm writing my own, so no biggie) the only thing desperately missing from the WP7 store is Skype. When you work most of your time in the Middle East and Asia but your family are in the UK, you really want Skype.

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Facepalm

Hang on.... Don't Microsoft own Skype?

That's one seriously deep hole they are digging for themselves.

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FAIL

Here's another one ...

how come you can't bluetooth a contact to another phone, in WP7 ?

Anyone care to defend that ?

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"you can't bluetooth a contact to another phone"

does anyone ever actually do that? Really? Any Android and iOS users actually Bluetoothing contacts to other phones? Really?

Really really?

Colour me dubious.

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Windows

Doubt it will work

This might have worked in the 80s and the 90s when much of the buyers simply knew little about what was available and they needed, but consumers are (generally) smarter and savvier now, and they have this thing called "the internet" available at their fingertips; they are going to be less susceptible to salesperson influence than before. (Not immune, and not in all cases, but less susceptible.)

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Coat

The internet

For that they have Waggener Edstrom doing their astroturfing campaigns, stuffing votes for "mobe of the year" sites, paying commentards and downvoters everywhere. They are hoping that even if their scheme is now quite public, they'll smother dissenting opinions just by volume.

Don't believe me? Try saying here that the wp7 interface wastes one third of the screen with a useless blank area, and that the tiles look more like a child's toy than a smartphone, and see how many downvotes you get. And don't even mention the lack of USB mass storage, no expansion, medium hardware.

Then go check the history of the authors of the praising opinions, and see if you find anything peculiar.

Mine is the one with a rooted and customised android in the pocket...

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Seems quite sensible

Looking at reviews for WP7 phones, the general opinion seems to be that it's a "nice OS" - in contrast to reviews of say the Playbook where it got a somewhat luke-warm response.

It's not a massive leap to suggest that the reason it's therefore not selling well isn't the phone itself, it's the ecosystem around it - i.e. as people have pointed out "Why would I buy this, if iOS and Android have better support?"

So MS need to improve the ecosystem. They can either pay people to shift the phones and hope the apps follow, or pay people to make the apps and hope the phone sales follow. They appear to have adopted the more sensible approach.

Personally I think MS could be onto a winner ultimately. As much as you may love your smartphone, none of them really play nicely with your PC. Say, for example, those little metro tiles sync seamlessly between your PCs, your phone and your Xbox. Windows 8 isn't too far out, the Xbox 720 is going some all-singing, always on, PVRing media hub.

The ongoing relationship/takeover of Nokia would gives them pretty tight control on decent hardware, with RIM vanishing into oblivion at great speed and their lock on enterprise productivity - they've got a pretty good shot at replacing those enterprise Blackberries with a handset that recipient might 'actually like to own'

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WP7: not glamorous like iOS, not as much choice as Android

Or maybe it's the devices, the lack of any wide choice of them.

All the folk happy to have the same phone as everyone else are already locked into Apple and WP7 just doesn't look glamorous enough to steal back any of the fashionistas. Especially since most WP7 devices are barely distinguishable from the Android devices their creators also supply.

Meanwhile the developers endless lament about fragmentation on Android is actually a great device sales driver, with almost any combination of form factor and feature list a buyer desires available. The highly uniform spec for WP7 devices sounds great on paper but doesn't get those vital 1st sales. That static spec is continually ageing and making life hard at the high end - bigger screens yes, but no higher res to take advantage of it for example?

Microsoft locked down WP7's look,feel & hardware to ensure consistent performance, paying sales droids to demo that may be the only way to gain any benefit. Personally I'm more likely to hear alarm bells if the UI needs to be explained and I'm sure I'm not alone!

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FAIL

WP7 plays really badly with your PC

It barely plays with your PC at all - instead, it connects to the Microsoft Cloud (Windows Live) or a corporate cloud (Exchange).

So you have to put damn near everything of interest onto that, and there is no other choice.

I would hope that WP7 does at least allow USB Mass Storage connections to download your photos and MP3s without sending those via the Cloud, though I don't know that for certain.

It is in fact the case that Android and even iOS play better with your Windows PC than WP7, as those allow contacts sync without using any Cloud.

They all want you to use their respective Clouds to backup and sync contacts, but only WP7 forces you to use it.

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Stop

you do realise

that all those nice reviews are basically sponsored by Microsoft reviews... "Here is some money, write this...." that the whole internet seems to be buying into these days.

Microsoft have the biggest budget bar and every blog this side of mars wants some of that money....

Who care idf you sell your soul by calling a turd like WP7 the best thing since sliced bread.

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Childcatcher

What will happen is this....

Punter goes into store looking to upgrade his iPhone or Android.

Staff working on this 'incentive' scheme slag off his existing phone tech

Staff then shows punter ONLY windows Phones.

Staff then continues the sales method they have been brainwashed into following.

'your old phone was crap'

'It couldn't make calls'

'We have SKYPE and SKYPE is part of MS so it is bound to be better than anything else.'

'Apps? there are lots. More than you will ever need.'

'This will be the only phone on the market in 6 months. So why not join up now'.

Get the idea?

The salesdroid will do anything to make the sale even if the customer clearly has a need that the WP7 cannot satisfy.

Just go into any PC-World store just after Dell or HP etc have released a new flasgship model and merely suggest that you want a Mac.

I've done it several times just for fun.

<typed on a 4yr old MacBook running OSX and CentOS 6.2>

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FAIL

Once again, the Ballmerian touch of uber-incompetence...

...is ready to spend gazillions, only to see almost no results. Paid Bing usage, anyone?

I swear it's actually painful to see this now, how the totally clueless bald ego and his boy Belfiore with the golden parachute and deadly touch when it comes to business (he drove the Zune project, Windows Media Center project etc into the ground, only to be promoted every single time)...

...is there anything that was NOT completely and hopelessly screwed up with this WP project?

It's breathtaking to see the utter lack of accountability in these circles, just amazing, really, it is...

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Linux

"Ballmerian uber-incompetence"

And this is a problem... why? Doesn't everyone like to watch train wrecks?

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Happy

Train Wreck?

Where's the slo-mo? Where's the 3D?

Looks like the WP trainwreck experience is lacking...

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Anonymous Coward

Why would that be a problem?

Should it be a problem and if so, why?

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FAIL

Ho hum

Apple's products are shiny, white and attractively designed with some level of competence. Apple computers don't require anti-virus. Apple stores are full of teens trying out the latest iGadgets. Apple accessories start at $20 and go up, even for a plastic case for the iPhone.

Microsoft keeps trying, but they have failed with every hardware device they've tried to offer, with the possible exception of Xbox (and even that took two tries before they stopped cooking themselves).

Now, tell me again why I would want to spend my money on a "smart"-phone that runs *any* flavor of Windows? The brand is tarnished, and no matter how hard Microsoft tries, if it's a "Windows-anything", people are going to look towards the Apple store and say, "Ooooh! Shiny! I want one of those!"

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Anonymous Coward

Are you sure?

"Apple computers don't require antivirus"?

It's very generous of you to voluntarily share your Mac.

"If it's a 'Windows anything' people are going to look towards the Apple store"?

Sounds like they don't know who makes what.

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"Microsoft keeps trying, but they have failed with every hardware device they've tried to offer, with the possible exception of Xbox"

The Microsoft optical mouse is probably the best mouse available. YMMV.

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It may be right. May be wrong.

"Google calls this 'extortion,' and it may be right."

It may be wrong. What is certainly not wrong, is that Google has consistently acted with blatant and willful disregard for other people's IP. For example, I am sure that you are familiar with the Andy Rubin email which Google is desperately trying to prevent from being admitted into evidence, right? (Maybe Google should have just gotten that $60m / year license from Sun, eh?)

Android has had an incredible number of lawsuits pending against it. And note that the Oracle lawsuit is not only for patent-infringement, but for copyright-infringement too. And of course you know that Google refused to join the consortium that bought the Nortel patents, and for the stupidest of reasons: buying into the consortium would have prevented Google from asserting those patents against other entities.

No, at this point, Google can't complain about anything, as their willful disregard of the rights of all other IP holders has brought this on themselves. And on their partners, too, who have been selling Android devices. You know how much help Google has given them, right? None whatsoever....

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As SCO reminds us, its easy to accuse and nearly as easy to get a court to listen even if nothing actually happened (or even if you're just making up the whole story).

Patent problems aside we'll just have to wait and see if a court agrees that Google did what the application licences allowed or if they went too far. There are a lot of disappointed people just discovering they didn't understand their own licensing terms though, Oracle for one ;)

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Anonymous Coward

@Turtle - Not so fast, matey!

The Andy Rubin email becomes less ans less relevant while USPTO is invalidating Oracle's so called patents one after another. Those incredible number of lawsuits you mention are against phone manufacturers who, let's not forget, customize Android. So far nobody has ever launched a lawsuit against Google regarding Android so how can Google be the one to blame here ? Before being proven guilty, they should be accused first, don't you think ?

As for the reason why Google didn't buy those patents, you're wrong again. You call silly a decision of not buying a defensive weapon that will be shared with your biggest enemies ? What tells you Google planned to assert those patents ? Show us here how many patents has Google asserted so far against any other competitor or threatened to use ?

As for your last paragraph, Google has helped each and every phone manufacturer who came at their door asking for help regarding these Android lawsuits which as you are mentioning, rises to an impressive total of zero. Maybe the fact that all these phone manufacturers are also Microsoft partners and a cleverly weaseled NDA from the Redmond giant might give a clue.

Let's just wait for the courts to decide before calling for an execution.

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WTF?

And nearly all of the patents are for things so obvious I can't for the life of me understand how they ever passed examination.

Apple and MS are just as bad as each other with their patents now, the majority of them should not exist.

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Facepalm

@AC

1) Google sold patents to HTC so that HTC could sue Apple.

2) Oracle is suing Google over Android.

3) Andy Rubin's email is relevant to copyright infringement as he admits Google needs a license to Oracle's, at the time Sun's, software. Google loses the copyright case and Oracle can get an injunction against anyone possessing their copyrighted IP without a license, which makes Andy's email very important.

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@a_been

Did you read some supersecret email different to the ones in the case? the rubin mail is the smoking gun on Google putting the lawyers to work on how to work round a licensing problem. The court will decide if they did enough to avoid infringement.

The fight to keep them out is about just how clueless a jury will be when Oracle misrepresents this. Based on your post I its a pretty legitimate concern.

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About blinking time

They can afford it... isn't $10-15 what MS get for each Android handset? So Google are paying shops to sell MS phones ;)

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Trollface

The circle is almost complete

Heh, shouldn't Microsoft be paying for grunts to shift Android phones, in order for their chosen business model to continue to make any money?

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Anonymous Coward

A waste of time but little money

WP7 is still not going to sell because-

They don't have the market presence like Apple (and before you shouting how stupid all the IPhone buyers are you know Microsoft would sell your soul for a customer base like Apple has)

When you have single digit market share who is going to buy your product when all their friends have IPhones or Android.

A newer, sexier, faster, bigger,... Android phone is coming out in what feels like every week. With the Microsoft hardware lock the WP7 phones look dated and don't have the specs that the upper end Android phones have. I know, WP7 has a much more efficient OS, blah, blah, ... Who cares - I'd say about 2% of the people buying phones (if market share means anything)

The way I see most phones getting sold (in the US) is the customer goes in the store, plays with the phones and the one that hits their magic spot is the one they buy. Or all their friends have x (where x is Apple or Android) and that is what they want. The sales staff gets invoked at the end of the process.

Waiting for WP7 to take off is like waiting for the Titanic's second voyage.

Now all you WP7 lovers can jump on me (I know - it sucks to pick a losing platform).

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Anonymous Coward

No, but

"WP7 has a much more efficient OS, blah, blah, ... Who cares"

Probably about the same percentage as people who actually care how many cores their phone has.

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ouvert ou fermé?

>>I know, WP7 has a much more efficient OS, blah, blah

How do you know? The first version of WP7 wasn't even multitasking. M$ historically is not good at efficiency ( asta_la_Vista is one of many examples) . Their OS's are closed, non-modular and poorly documented.

No one mentioned one of many reasons why WP7 could be failing. Android is a free and open OS (with open app. store model). It is based on on the very successful and popular Linux kernel that beats M$ whenever a fair play is been observed.

Apple iOS is, on the contrary, a closed OS. However, despite the fact that Apple has out-Microsofted the Microsoft in many aspects, iOS (together with Mac OS X) is based on Unix, BSD and even GNU technologies (e.g., gnu bash is the default shell on any Mac). Let me put it this way: without *BSD and GNU Mac would be still that piece of crap as the original pre-X Mac. FreeBSD et al. would still be great OSs.

Openness, freedom to use, modify and redistribute is hitting the Redmond mongrel pretty good now!

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Devil

Grand strategy

Just go right out and tell everybody you're paying the clerk to push your ware. Brilliant!

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Anonymous Coward

Nice

That explains the zeal with which the manager of Phones4you proclaimed he had sold his iphone and bought a nokia windows phone, I looked at them seemed quite a nice phone, ameoled looking screen, operating system seemed easy enough to use, 400 quid though, if I had 400 to spend on a phone I would have spent the extra hundred and bought an iphone.

As it happens I had just bought a nexus s for £200, which though not quite as powerful, does seem to give better value for money, for use as a phone/pda, rather than anything else.

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The 1990's called

they want their strategy back.

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