Microsoft and productivity are something of a natural fit — Word, Azure, Excel — its key products are designed explicitly to get a job done and done well. Indeed, these products have long made up the core of its business, driving growth and profits even as other divisions, such as Surface, repeatedly failed to break even. Windows Phone has long been part of the latter group, even despite aggressive and creative marketing campaigns across the last few years from Redmond.
With a single digit share of the global market, it has increasingly seemed as though Windows Phone is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Having suffered a late launch, poor manufacturer adoption and a lasting stigma caused from an early lack of apps, naysayers have been eager to proclaim the end of the OS, especially with new CEO Satya Nadella notoriously keen to refocus their business model away from hardware. As the old mantra goes, however, if at once Microsoft doesn’t succeed, it throws money at the problem until they do. This happened first with the Xbox brand, where the first was widely criticized but the second became the defining console of its generation, and secondly with the Surface brand, which recently turned its first profit following universal critical acclaim of the Surface Pro 3.
New signs seem to show that Windows Phone may soon achieve something of a reckoning in this vein, though not perhaps from a conventional stand point. As mentioned, businesses and the enterprise market are key to the Microsoft vision, however when designing their OS, the focus was kept explicitly on the consumer. Lacking key ingredients essential to attract business users, this burgeoning market increasingly became the sole domain of iOS and Android devices, much as with the consumer market. However, with recent incentives to businesses and utility upgrades sure to please a large number of IT professionals around the globe, the tables are starting to turn.
CCS Insight, in a recent study, found that in June 2014, Windows Phone accounted for around 18% of the UK enterprise market. According to the analyst firm, businesses are attracted to the operating system due to its lower costs, when compared to the likes of Apple devices, and the great integration with existing Windows software. They then go on to claim that, by the end of 2016, Windows Phone will grow to become the second most popular enterprise OS.
Though this claim must be taken with a pinch of salt, the signs are certainly there. With Microsoft working with new partners like Dropbox, merging its software together to provide better integration between devices and doubling down on cloud services for the enterprise market, things certainly look rosy.
With little luck in breaking the consumer market, it is easy to see why Microsoft are eager to claim the spoils left behind by an increasingly mad Blackberry and lock horns with Apple. Before they might have lost the battle before it had even begun, but this time they have endeavored not to be caught asleep.Further reading: Android, iOS, Microsoft, Windows Phone