Enterprise May Be The Last Bastion Of Hope For Windows Phone

Microsoft has haemorrhaged a fortune on its mobile business through its ill-fated acquisition of Nokia and sluggish uptake of its Windows Phone platform. It's hurting the company's bottom line but can Microsoft change its mobile fortunes through opportunities in the enterprise?

Developers have no love for Windows Phone judging by the lack of apps available for the platform. A robust developer ecosystem is crucial to the success of any mobile platform and iOS and Android have a million miles head start over Windows Phone.

Microsoft is fully aware of this, which is why earlier this month it launched a preview of Windows Bridge, a tool allowing coders to port iOS apps to Windows (you can get the code on GitHub here). It's still early days but suffice to say it will be a hard slog for Windows Phone in the consumer market even with Windows Bridge to entice app developers. The tool does nothing to encourage developers to create apps specifically for Windows Phone that will showcase its unique features. It might make existing users happy but it hardly provides an incentive to woo new adopters.

According to analyst firm, Telsyte, Windows Phone's marketing share locally and globally is around five per cent and a large portion of that are made up of enterprise users. Yes, there are a lot of iOS and Android business users but considering many IT departments are open to supporting different mobile platforms, it makes for a more welcoming environment for Windows Phone.

IDC analyst for mobility, Joseph Hsiao, believes Windows Phone is on a level playing field with iOS and Android in the enterprise market. Most organisations already run Windows on their PCs and it is predicted that many companies will be upgrading to Windows 10. The new OS touts a "universal" apps feature meaning apps will run across any Windows 10 device including tablets and phones. This will most certainly help Windows Phone gain momentum with business users.

"Windows as a platform is geared towards content creation such as digital media and, more importantly for enterprises, work documents and emails," Hsiao told Lifehacker Australia. "Microsoft has brought out some solid productivity software such as Office which integrates well with Windows Phone. Pairing that with universal apps for Windows 10 devices, Windows Phone in the enterprise makes sense."

Telyste analyst, Foad Fadaghi, also thinks the popularity of Windows 10 will make the adoption of Windows Phone much more attractive to businesses.

"In terms of improved security and features, Windows 10 is heading in the right direction and that's going to help the case for Windows Phone for businesses," he said.

Apple and Google aren't oblivious to mobile opportunities in the enterprise space. They are both painfully aware the consumer mobile market is oversaturated and there isn't much new business to be had there.

Both companies are fighting aggresively to ingratiate themselves with organisations. Apple teamed up with IBM to get more iOS devices into enterprises last year and Google has greatly expanded its Android for Work program to make the OS more attractive to companies.

Competition is heating up in the area of enterprise mobility and this is where Microsoft can really shine and get back on track with the Windows Phone platform.

Will you consider Windows Phone for your business? Let us know in the comments.


Comments

    No, I wont consider it at all, If our company changed to any company wide Phone ecosystem it would be using Android/google apps.

    Because if our company phone was "windows phone" then I would need to have one too, and I don't want one. As does no one in our IT department.

    Windows Phone just bad and I don't want to deal with everyone complaining there work phone has no apps, that they don't know how to use it.... way too much of a headache.

      It is a different case in America where HIPAA (medical privacy laws) require standards and safeguards that Google doesn't have. There's been many companies that had to move back to Microsoft products after being sued. Google scrapes a ton of data that makes using them illegal in any Medical or HR settings, and any other corporate setting where emails that are protected by HIPAA would be sent or stored, or any Google products that would house medical information (such as Drive or Docs).

      The reality is that only Microsoft, IBM, and a short, short list of other technology vendors can truly meet the needs of enterprise. And those needs go beyond "I want to use what I like" juvenile antics.

      Windows phones are the natural choice for enterprise being very secure and cones out of the box with office and provides users of windows a familiar environment ans the ability to keep their phones synched with their pc's. With the new flagships Lumia 940 and 940 XL Lumias also will the the only phones capable of using Continuum which enables the ability of replacing laptops completely for a large segment of enterprise. If Microsoft plays their cards right this will be a huge opportunity for them.

    As a user I love Windows Phone - it's neat, simple and has great features. But I also loathe how buggy it is.

    As an IT manager, I love the security and manageability of these. But given the bugginess, I would be much more inclined to deploy a fleet of IOS devices, because while I personally can deal with the bugginess, I know that IOS devices are likely to result in fewer helpdesk calls. If Microsoft focus on making a consistently smooth and reliable experience I'd reconsider this position.

    Where I think Microsoft are going wrong with this strategy though is by trying to attract app developers from other platforms to the new universal app platform for Windows 10. There are barely any enterprise apps for IOS or Android, and certainly not enough to make Windows a compelling ecosystem for enterprise if these apps get ported.

    Instead, Microsoft should focus their efforts on the legacy stack. There must be millions (if not billions) of line of business software applications out there which have been developed on the Win32 or .NET platforms. These would be much more easily ported to the universal platform than would apps from Android or IOS, not to mention infinitely more relevant for enterprise customers. And the majority of these are not viable candidates for the reverse port to Android or IOS.

    Since Apple began the mobility revolution with IOS 2.0, enterprise productivity has been the gaping hole. Sure, we can check and respond to email on the go and do a bit of web browsing, but how much real work can we actually get done? I'm sure there are examples people could give me, but they would be the exception. Microsoft has an opportunity here to capitalise on this and make a compelling mobile experience that allows people to do actual work. This is what would attract enterprise customers. Well, me anyway.

    Last edited 17/08/15 5:10 pm

    Windows phones are buggy??? As a former IT Manager, now consulting for companies the biggest hurdle they face is cost and finding ways to reduce cost to free up their budgets. The biggest budget killer for most companies that don't have a "Bring Your Own Device", which is not smart from a security standpoint, are iPhones. Yes they have over a million Apps and are nice looking devices they are also very fragile devices that users constantly drop and I've seen first hand how fast budgets go when at $700 average price per phone can eat away a budget. Plus the end users know it's a company phone and I see it every new release of an iPhone at least 1/3 of users start losing their devices, or dropped it and it can't be fixed. Yes Windows has an App gap, but they are practical for everyday business use, can be intergraded into AD without having to pay a separate service provider and program to keep track of devices, and plus the phones are extremely durable to the point where mine is 2 years old no protective cover on it and have dropped so many times and the only blemish is a piece of glass chipped off on the bottom corner of the phone. I fully expect to them in more large organizations in the next year.

      The reality is that "app gap" only affects games and fad apps, which corporate users should not be able to access anyway. Android has no security features as part of the platform outside of device encryption, which lets detrimental bugs like Stagefright propagate. Just like every other Microsoft platform, there are fine-grained permissions that a company has control over on a Windows Phone, and it is extended and strengthened with WIndows 10 mobile.

        Only in WP Land can someone say the app gap is limited to games and fads, it also belittles the reality that many users continue to face in 2015. Where's ANZ? CBA is there, but it still lacks functions compared to the Android/iOS versions like PayTag. Where's Event Cinemas? Woolworths? Menulog? Those are just LOCAL apps.

        Snapchat isn't a 'fad,' just ask students and teens; it has tens of millions of users and growing. YikYak is similarly AWOL. Even those big names which are present like Spotify are missing critical functions like Connect in the WP version. GoPro doesn't support 512MB devices (the bulk of WP devices people actually own), Facebook still misses in-line videos, stickers, and the option to change post privacy after the fact, and that's embarrassingly published by Microsoft. 'App gap only affects games and fad apps' is something you'll only see parroted in WP circles, it doesn't reflect reality.

          Every app you listed there shouldn't be able to be used in the enterprise environment. (especially snap chat LOL)

          You'd be surprised at how many organisations actively block facebook for example. As for the movies, woolworths, etc well there is really quite an excellent web browser built in to Windows Phone that you can use for that.

          Windows phone still has some niggly bugs (the video player doesn't hide the on-screen soft buttons (back, Windows key, search) for example) and there is definitely an app gap for consumers, but for enterprise Windows Phone 10 will be great.

          It's also a bit unfair to look at Windows Phone 8.1 and directly compare it to Windows Phone 10 which is still being developed.

          Last edited 18/08/15 4:45 pm

            We live in the world of BYOD. There are fewer divisions between personal phones that people want to bring, and what their employers want them to use. No one likes to carry two phones nad people want apps (yes, even Snapchat), so one of them has to give. Just look at Blackberry; they bet the farm on bulk enterprise sales but because companies are now caving into their employees' preference for iPhone and Android handsets, Blackberry is suffering for it.

            It's also a bit unfair to look at Windows Phone 8.1 and directly compare it to Windows Phone 10 which is still being developed.

            I'm not writing off W10M, but you can't say with a straight face that the app gap is limited to games and fads. WP is five years old and the gap still exists. Will W10M close it? Maybe... the Astoria and Islandwood bridges are promising, but the release ETA is still up in the air, and we have no idea if devs will even embrace it yet. Right now, the app gap is very real.

              We live in the world of BYOD.
              That might be your experience, but it's not mine. Several studies have shown that BYOD costs more in the long run because of the extra security on the network and I haven't read any stories of many organisations embracing it lately.

              It might suit small business, but for very large organisations and governments, its expensive to implement, costly to run, and employees aren't always interested in it.

              Any large company with serious security needs will never, ever let you bring a device. Anything that gives you access to sensitive information outside of your physical office needs to be as controlled and secure as possible.

              The app gap is real enough, but when we are talking enterprise user environments, it's a non-issue. If we were talking about mass user adoption, of course consumer level entertainment content is going to make or break you. But in high security business productivity? That's worrying about Maseratis not being able to get decent offroad tyres.

              Last edited 19/08/15 2:16 pm

                You're right in that if you work for NORAD, you're probably not going to be able to bring your own phone. For businesses where corporate espionage isn't a realistic concern, BYOD is perfectly acceptable. Even the White House Comms Agency which for years used Blackberry because of security, is trialing Android and iPhone; probably because they realised employees are people first, who are actually going to use the phone they want to use. In my field, even notoriously sluggish vendors for confidential information systems like PACS or PIMS are moving to support those new platforms.

                Of course, there will always be institutions that require their people use a device of their choosing but these are fewer and further between. Blackberry's mistake was overestimating how important cybersecurity is for their clients. Apple and Samsung are courting companies with supposedly secure versions of existing handsets, and now Microsoft wants to make the same bad bet as Blackberry by thinking companies will buy Windows Phones in bulk? Yeah... good luck with that.

                  Blackberry's problem was that they were stubbornly refusing to offer the same functionality as the new phones. Security was and still is a concern. Windows phones provide all the productivity of the others.

                  Pretty much any company that deals with sensitive information and expects employees to work remotely requires that level of security. BYOD brings so many uncontrollable variables to the table that they open themselves up to a hell of a lot of legal trouble by allowing it. Especially when there's no immediate disadvantage the way Blackberry was.

                  If they don't demand basic security protocol from their employees and IT, they are failing their clients. My last job and my current one both require people working remotely to do so on dedicated, tightly controlled machines and I sure as hell don't work for NORAD. Just off the top of my head I can think of two huge industries that are actually breaking laws if they don't have this kind of security: Anyone dealing with medical or financial information. So all hospitals, pathology labs, insurance companies, banks, creditors, superannuation funds, legal firms, government agencies of any description... the list is practically endless and up until now they've just done offsite work unsecurely, on paper, or not at all.

                  Do companies do it? Yes. Are they unbelievably stupid for doing it? Absolutely.

                  @pokedad Wow, so anyone who embraces BYOD is stupid for doing so? Get real. For the vast majority of businesses, BYOD can provide a perfectly acceptable level of security while reducing costs by eschewing device deployment. As long as models are restricted, basic security protocols are respected, and CIOs educate their clients, most institutions can have BYOD programs with a degree of security that is appropriate to the sensitivity of their data. And as if to make my point, the 2013 Future of Business reports that 72% of of Aussie organisations are allowing personal phones for work (up from 56% in 2012). Ditto with laptops (52%) and tablets (59%); every business analyst expects this to increase.

                  In education, the percentage of schools that provide devices has shrunk, with the difference made up in BYOD uptake. Yes, it can theoretically introduce security vulnerabilities but it also provides significant advantages, not the least of which is cost-effectiveness, and the fact that it acknowledges the reality that students and employees will use the devices they want, not necessarily the one that's provided. CIOs can moan all they want about the hassle of supporting multiple devices, but BYOD is here to stay. People will bring the phones they actually want to use and judging from consumer market share, it's not going to be Windows Phone.

      I also have a windows phone for 2 years and it has bounced everywhere (Nokia Lumia 925) the corners are scuffed and dented with a large scratch across the middle of the screen, but it still works. I switched my devices to android due to my Mobile operator only having the low end Windows Phones and wish i never. I 'Upgraded' to Samsung S6 and a Sony Xperia Z3. The Xperia Z3 cracked one night while on charging after the second week! How fragile can a device get when it cracks due to excessive heat!

      I am now using my trusty Lumia 925 still getting laughs from other developers at being one of the 10 Windows Phone users in the world . While waiting for the Apocalypse when i will still be able to make calls while there phones are destroyed!

      I hope Microsoft continues Nokia build quality and I look forward to my next work device being a Microsoft phone.

      (Nice name by the way :P)

        I have to ask: who would you be on the phone to during an apocalypse? Do you have contacts in NASA who can take you up to the space station? Do they also use windows phone?

    Yeah, gotta love Office on my Windows Phone.
    Can't edit any files but yay.. Office... whooo.. ahh who am I kidding.
    Buying a Windows Phone was the stupidest decision. I rate my Nokia Lumia 930 the biggest piece of crap phone I have ever owned, and I would not recommend anyone purchasing a WIndows Phone. Even with Windows 10 it is still the ugliest steaming pile of horse crap. Not enough can be said about how crap this OS is..

      You are the only person I have seen who has changed to the Windows ecosystem and regretted it.

      I threw away a hell of a lot of content when i moved away from Android and I don't regret a thing. My Lumia 930 is the smoothest, fastest, prettiest mobile experience I've ever had.

        He's not the only one. I jumped onto WP early with a Telstra/Microsoft partnered promotion which gave me a free Mozart in return for promoting it on social media. It was very disappointing, and WP7 was soon mercy-killed. I got back in with a discounted 8X and it was the same story even after 8.1. More recently, picked up a L640 because I needed an affordable backup phone and like to have a foot into each ecosystem... same problem. It's been 5 years since I first tried WP and the app gap is still there, memory management is still a mess (how the 'resuming' screen still exists in 2015 is beyond me), and now I hear that those few differentiating advantages that WP had like Hubs are being slowly whittled away? No thanks.

        Apparently we're not the only one either as a recent wmpoweruser article revealed some troubling stats regarding WP retention: the majority of US Windows Phone customers abandoned the platform, with only 19% of users in the last 2 years sticking with it. Blame it on the lack of flagships, or Microsoft's prioritisation of W10 or even Android/iOS, it's a bad look. As much as I'm a tech enthusiast who likes to try different things, it's now impossible for me to recommend the platform to anyone outside a very specific niche (don't care about apps/can't afford iPhone/only care about camera/hate google).

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