Hot on the heels of my excitement over the video of a Microsoft evangelist telling a Portugese tech site that all Windows Phone devices will get the next big update, Apollo, The Verge has reported that an anonymous source close to the company has quashed that hope, saying that no existing Windows Phones will get the next big update.
Funnily enough, even though I use and love Windows Phone, I wasn’t too heartbroken with the news. After all, it’s been up in the air as to whether or not current devices will get the Windows Phone 8 Apollo update for some time. But I’m a special case–I got in on the NoDo revision, on first-generation hardware. My phone’s time will be up by the time Apollo drops. This got me thinking, though–who should be upset if Apollo doesn’t hit current hardware?
That’s right–any of the hardware partners with second-gen hardware on or coming to the market. That means HTC and Nokia, with gorgeous devices like the Titan II and Lumia 900. Rumours like this one are going to bite their sales, and maybe even provoke dropping the devices–look at the Verge article’s comments and see, anecdotally, how many Lumia 900 owners are considering returns.
If Microsoft isn’t going to support second-gen hardware, or if there’s continuing doubt about it, expect a nosedive in sales (such as they are). A two-year contract on last year’s OS is going to put off consumers, which means OEMs will likely start drifting back towards other OSes.
What does that mean for Nokia? It means, certainly, that their efforts with the platform have come too little, too late. The Lumia line is great, but as many have said, should have been out a year ago. They were late to market and now their flagship 900 is probably going to see trouble moving units.
Mad: Lumia 900 Owners
Buying a second-gen Windows Phone built by Microsoft’s hardware sweetheart seems like a pretty sure bet to see it supported through the next major revision. If I had one, I’d be feeling pretty unsure of my purchase right now. That said–will Windows Phone Mango continue to suit your needs through your next upgrade cycle? If you can wait a year or two until your next upgrade, then congratulations–you got a gorgeous phone that looks like it’ll be forward-compatible with most Windows Phone 8 apps. If not, then, sorry. You do deserve to be upset.
Not Mad: Me, and Probably You Too
Look, everyone with first-gen hardware. It’s been floating around that we’d get two software updates for Windows Phone devices. If you got in right at launch, or with NoDo like I did, then we really have nothing to complain about. If you got in on a launch or first-gen device, you’ve gotten NoDo, Mango, and will get Tango some time this quarter (presumably). I’m pretty sure that’s three updates. That’s the same number of big OS updates that the original iPhone got before it stopped being supported. Ditto iPhone 3G. You’d be buying a new phone to run the new software on any platform.
I believe that consumer expectation is the problem, frankly, but it stems from MS’ walled-garden approach to Windows Phone. With a tightly controlled hardware spec and user experience, we expected that with so much control there’d be a plan for our devices to continue to be updated. As stated, first-gen users have nothing to complain about. Second-gen device owners, despite their phones’ faster processors, still might be expecting too much upgradeability from the limited hardware spec.
Maybe that’s what all this comes down to. Windows Phone users have made it a kind of mantra–look at what our OS can do with so little under the hood! It’s like racing a VW Golf against a Lamborghini and just about tying. But we’re not going to tie forever. Eventually there’s going to be next year’s Lambo and it’s going to have more horsepower, more torque, be a little faster off the line, and, frankly, we’ll still be driving a Golf, one that drives almost exactly the same as last year’s model.
I think that while Microsoft’s silence on the matter doesn’t bode well for current devices’ update path, consumers need to take a breath and wait until it’s confirmed one way or another. If you’re really concerned about whether or not that sexy Titan II or Lumia 900 will be upgraded, then hold off on buying it until the story is confirmed.
The amount we don’t yet know about this could just about fill the Grand Canyon, folks. Let’s see what happens over the next few days.
Paddle your own canoe,