Well that is a shame to lose out on the mobile phone market. Microsoft have just announced that their Lumia mobile phone range will cease production in December this year. It looks like the Redmond company has experience it’s biggest hardware failure since the Zune was released in 2003 to try and take on the iPod. I can’t believe a powerful innovative company like Microsoft can fail at making a beautful phone with a lot of charm and personality.
I have been a Microsoft maniac, which is a fanboy of all things Microsoft all my life. I could never taste an Apple product in my ecosystem because their hardware just doesn’t appeal to me. They have a specific type of customer that they believe is a hyper intelligent being of unlimited creativity. This is reflected in their product’s beauty and style. It isn’t just the expensiveness with their £1000 laptops and £5oo phones and tablets that put me off. Besides most of the software and content of those phones is closed off to programmers and there are so many apps on the system that a majority of users are not likely to use.
The Lumia range started off with a modest fanfare. First they were made by Nokia, the Finnish mobile phone company that popularised ordinary consumer phones. My first mobile was a Nokia 3310 which was made famous by the snake game. Nokia had invested heavily in the Windows phone software and together with Microsoft they had created a unique design with some interesting hardware and software features. The name Lumia is the plural of the Finnish word for snow. So we have a phone with a name that is beautiful as snow and as fresh as a white sheet of snowy paper, as if starting afresh on a new landscape that was covering old ground. If only it was good enough to cover old ground.
My first Lumia was a blue 520 which at the time was the bestselling Windows phone of the day. It’s still stands out as the best selling Windows phone of all time. It was a very full filled phone to have and represented what Microsoft had set out to acheive. I found the phone’s colourful designs to be super friendly and inviting to use and that was what attracted me to them. Also the software was equally tantalising. Instead of using the static icons of the iOS and Android operating systems Windows had created ‘a window on the world in the palm of your hand’. The handsets had the functions in the form of square tiles that resembled a window. These Live Tiles had constantly moving actions on them that made the phone look alive as if it was inviting you to investigate the features of the phone. For me it was a familiar and welcoming piece of technology that helped me to bond with world in a way that I couldn’t achieve with any other phone.
But Nokia was not the only company to make Windows phones. HTC and Samsung made two models of their own. However they decided not to invest in any new models because the Windows Phone didn’t sell as well as they thought it would. In fact it was a struggle for Microsoft to break into the smartphone market to begin with. Microsoft thought that they could create a phone that had the look and appeal of a PC that you could carry with you on the go and that you would never be lost without it. But what Microsoft hadn’t realised was that the mobile application developers were not interested in making Windows versions of their own apps. Apple never made an iTunes app for them, and many other developers wouldn’t bother. They felt that Microsoft didn’t understand the phone market. As a developer of PC operating systems and business devices Microsoft looked like a dinosaur in the tech world compared to the young affluent technology enthusiasts embracing mobile devices. Most of the customers of Windows Phones comprised of business people and budget technology consumers.
Software is Microsoft’s money machine. After all it was the Windows OS that brought the wealth to their premises. They managed to create some interesting variations of their own apps for the mobile phone market for a number of years. It’s now possible to edit Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents on the go. Yet they couldn’t sell their own phones very well. They had much more success with the Surface range of tablets they brought out in 2012 and they have managed to get people to use them to replace their laptops. Over the last few years Microsoft has been developing some interesting pieces of hardware in their products.
The Lumia range bears some of the fruits of these engineering marvels. Over they years I have owned the 520, 620 in white and green, 1020 in yellow, 735 in green and now the 640 in blue. Each and everyone of these has got some interesting features better than the last. A combination of strange Scandinavian design and Microsoft marvels. The 620 was the first of the phones that introduced me to a new navigation app that beat Google maps called HERE City Lens. This app used the phone’s camera and satnav to project a head up display of my surroundings on the screen showing the location of services available to me in the field of view. It was like something that had once been used in fighter jets.
The most bizarre and groundbreaking of all the Windows phones however was the 1020 that had the most powerful mobile camera in the world. It consisted of a large lens with a whopping 41 megapixel camera that protruded through the back of the body. It looked crazy at the time but it was a device for serious photography fans on the go. I took it with me to snap away at all the action on a volunteer break in Glasgow. However as I discovered having a phone with a large lens is not good enough to substitute a proper camera. The more elaborate and filling the special features are the more battery power is drained. But I loved that phone.
Although the Windows Phone enjoyed it’s time if it wasn’t for the developers then Windows mobile might have continued to succeed. Software helps sell hardware. In 1980 IBM took up Bill Gates offer of an operating system for their PCs. They let Gates keep all the right of ownership for MS-DOS convinced that there was no money in the software. They believed that the profits were in the machines only. But software is written material and that constitutes a copyright protection and for that IBM had to pay Microsoft a third of the money made in every machine they sold. This led to Microsoft becoming one of the richest companies in the world with Bill Gates as the world’s richest man.
At this moment as we speak Microsoft is now in the process of ceasing the Lumia’s production. I am glad to have been a great Lumia lover and I will continue to hold onto my Lumia 640 until I get an Android phone or iPhone. I am still supportive of Microsoft’s software and I will continue to use their apps on whatever phone I use. I still use Office Lens to take photos of notes, use Groove for my music collection and play solitaire on Xbox.