MetroUI inspiring poster designers

I was really surprised the other day when I bumped into this movie poster at a Paris bus stop. I had the feeling to look at a WindowsPhone home screen with lots of pictures and contacts pinned.

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The designer of this movie poster seems to have been influenced by Microsoft Metro UI. Is it conscious or not ? Usually designers are big fan of everything with an Apple touch.

I don’t know if the movie is featuring a lot of Nokia phones, but apparently Microsoft has found a new soft power with its UI.

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Microsoft changing value chain

I think part of Microsoft DNA is running after Apple in the consumer arena. After copying the window User Interface of the Mac computers 25 years ago, they are currently copying its value chain. I mean Apple integrated value chain. If you think of Microsoft as a software company, you are wrong. It is now a service and device company.

Microsoft value chain

Microsoft value chain

As Apple did they want to control every step of their value chain from content and services to devices.

They have services like skype, skydrive. They aggregate content and provide platforms both software and hardware. And since it is a device maker with Xbox, Surface PCs and tablets, and Mobiles with the recent Nokia acquisition.

What they still miss is some retail presence like apple stores. The danger here for Microsoft is to upset its long standing partnership with PC manufacturers. But can they fight back at Microsoft move in their backyard? The answer seems no. Linux isn’t an alternative in the mass market, neither is Chrome OS from Google or Android. Microsoft has been upset at their tablet attempts with Android. Now PC makers have a few years before Microsoft gets the lead in the PC consumer market. Some are trying to reinvent themselves like Dell who wants to focus on the business segment.

The missing part for Microsoft is Distribution and Retail. Will Microsoft open some flagship store or some corner within existing stores like Darty, Fnac, Saturn, Currys, or PC world ? I bet they will.

Vertical integration seems to be the unstoppable business model, every IT giant is running after including Google and Amazon. Until someone finds a smart and disruptive new business model.

SmartTV Alliance getting momentum

The SmartTV or Connected TV is basically a TV set with added features:

  • Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) receiver
  • Internet connection capabilities
  • A processor, enough memory and OS to run a web browser
  • A SDK to develop compatible applications or services

SmartTV principle

Whereas IPTV covers today the same but the Internet part is provided through a set-top-box usually provided by the ISP.

SmartTV are still not featuring standardized OSes. The OS part is usually based on a Linux distribution customized by the manufacturer or the chipset vendor. Some Chinese manufacturers are starting to base their OS on customized Android.

The SmartTV Alliance led by LG, Toshiba and Philips is clearly a signal that manufacturers don’t want to give the keys of their TV ecosystem to Google, Microsoft or others. The Smart TV Alliance is set to release a common SDK to simplify the work of developers. An application based on this SDK will run without any change on all LG, Philips and Toshiba SmartTVs.

But will it be enough? Will manufacturers have enough time to strengthen their TV stronghold before the barbarians aka Google and Co try to take it by storm?

Don’t count Nokia out of the smartphone playground

Nokia has done a very good job lately.

First Nokia is now the dominant player of the Windows Phone segment with a market share of 59% of the Windows Phone segment after just 9 months. HTC and Samsung are left far behind with a market share of 21% and 13% respectively.

> FierceMobile article

The Nokia Windows Phone portfolio is wide starting at a 200€ retail price without subsidy for a Lumia 610. This mid range product, or entry level for a smartphone, is a very good one. Ive tested it for almost one month as my primary device and the user experience is really good. To achieve this price point Nokia has compromised on the Application Processor, a ‘small’ 800MHz.

But the experience is still smooth and great. You just get some disappointment when you cannot use some games or apps like Skype as they cannot run on the device. You get a message in the MarketPlace that this application doesn’t run on your device. This small disappointment is however far better than an application freezing your device. And after all, you know this device isn’t the most costly and powerful.  The device comes with a free sat nav software that you can use off line, Nokia apps on public transports, image processing, etc.

On the other hand, Windows Phone is lagging after the other OS with 2.7% market share of the smartphone market but dynamics are there:

  • Nokia Lumia product range is very good
  • Windows Phone is a very good OS
  • Nokia has achieved in less than a year to be the dominant player in the Windows Phone segment
  • Windows Phone has grown 300%+ in 8 months when Android growth is stalling.

If no other manufacturer competes with Nokia, Nokia will be synonymous of Windows Phone. In that case, Microsoft might have the temptation to buy out Nokia and become an integrated player like its XBOX console business.

Let’s wait for the new Lumia range (featuring WP 8) announcement at the beginning of September. It will give some hints at the future of Nokia and Windows Phone.