NEW YORK – The most memorable tag line for Windows Phone 8 announced by Microsoft on Monday (Oct. 29) is: "We reinvented smartphones around YOU."
The question is, who exactly among the "YOU" is Microsoft targeting? Judging from a variety of use-case scenarios for the Windows Phone 8 discussed by Microsoft officials, the new smartphone is tailored to the following demographics:
- Baby boomers with failing eyesight who need “large print” smartphones. Microsoft is bringing to the Windows Phone 8 user interface super-sized “live tiles” that show the latest updates on Facebook posts and other available apps.
- Penny-pinching senior citizens who worry about whether their use of certain apps may exceed a data quota. Microsoft is integrating “Data Sense” to optimize a user’s data plan. It compresses every Web page, automatically takes advantage of Wi-Fi and matches data usage to a user’s data plan.
- Permissive parents who can’t say no to kids when they beg to play with their phones. These hypothetical moms and dads will love Microsoft’s “Kid’s Corner," an isolated space created in the Windows Phone 8 that allows them to eat dinner in peace while the kids mess around on the smartphone.
- Grandparents who want to see mash-up pictures of their grandkids posted on Facebook, which automatically shows up when a lock screen appears.
- Busy parents want to share calendars or a shopping list within the family. The “Family Room” app is cordoned off from the otherwise universal contact list on a parent’s smartphone. Entries made in the “Family Room” can be updated live so that any family member can access the shopping list and volunteer to pick up Mom’s favorite brand of organic bread – pictured onscreen – on the way home.
- So-called “me-generation” members who want to tailor “tiles” on their user interface screen to stuff only they care about.
- Photo enthusiasts who want easy access to Facebook and other social networks when they take pictures. Windows Phone 8 will automatically save the photos in the original high resolution using Microsoft’s Sky Drive.
- Cheapskates who want to talk on Skype instead of using cellphone minutes. Skype is now integrated with Windows Phone 8 so that it is always on, but without running code and consuming power.
- Seniors who can’t find their reading glasses. Windows Phone 8 has apps like “Urban Spoon” that allows voice questions, sparing oldsters from pushing a lot of buttons as they search for the local restaurant with the cheapest “early bird special.”
Windows Phone 8 user interface
Microsoft provided a clear and focused presentation on a good-looking consumer smartphone. [Get a 10% discount on ARM TechCon 2012 conference passes by using promo code EDIT. Click here to learn about the show and register.]
As Joe Belfiore, manager of Microsoft's Windows Phone program, said repeatedly, Windows Phone 8 puts “people at the center.” Microsoft developed a user interface that departs radically from the standard list of icons used on iPhones and Android phones. Good for Microsoft.
The remaining question, though -- and this is a big one -- is: Where Windows Phone 8 leaves business users? Microsoft said little about the corporate use of Windows Phone 8. Intentionally or unintentionally, Microsoft is leaving the door open for Research In Motion. This depends, of course, on whether RIM, now struggling, can come up with a better smartphone that targets business users -- and do it fast. Related stories:
10 things you should know about Win 8
Why Microsoft's Surface is a now-show in Japan