Just a quick post as a follow up from the one last week

I was in the “Metrocentre” last night which is the local major shopping centre (still the largest shopping centre in the EU apparently) and went to see “The Social Network” which incidentally was better than I was expecting. While I was there I visited the major phone shops in the centre to ask about Windows Phone 7 pricing and availability. The results were somewhat disappointing:

Carphone Warehouse – They don’t expect anything this month as they are concentrating on the launch of the Nokia N8 and the Desire HD.

T-Mobile – Nothing this month but they expect it in next months brochure.

O2 – When I asked about Windows Phone 7 the first person I spoke to knew nothing about them and went to ask his colleague about “Windows 7” handsets. One other member of staff their had heard about WP7 and knew the HD7 was a handset coming out. They said they expected to have some phones in store on Friday as a demo.

Three – Had not been shown a demo yet by a handset representative so reckoned it would be a few weeks until they had any information but did say it might be sooner. Three had a very good little booklet that ran through current smartphones and how you could differentiate between the two of them. WP7 was not even mentioned as coming soon.

Orange – The sales person was very apologetic that they did not have any information yet but did know about WP7 and knew the correct launch date. Suggested I came back in a few days to see if they had had anything in.

Vodafone – When asked about WP7 started showing me Windows Mobile handsets, then checked on their system for handsets. Two were listed (HTC Trophy & LG Optimus 7) with pricing but there was no availability date so told to try back in a few weeks.

So all in all a pretty poor showing considering it is only 2 days now until supposed handset availability! What’s happened to the reported half billion dollars MS has put aside for the marketing of WP7, don’t tell me its all going to be spent in the US?

I think all of this really points to the fact that MS is heading for a soft launch in Europe & perhaps focusing on the US November 8th as a date? Maybe that will be a soft launch too? I would understand the reasoning behind taking this approach, letting a ground swell of users, applications & support grow but don’t the seeds of interest need to be sown somewhere? Why not keep the people who care about this stuff in the loop by being a bit clearer with the strategy, what is there to loose! I can quite easily see the tech journal headlines now “MS WP7 a dud, only sells 50,000 handsets in first month – most of those internal purchases for MS employees!”

Its going to be hard to break away from the mobile reputation that MS had garnered for itself & the way to do it is by being loud and proud about how much of a break away WP7 is from Windows Mobile (lets face it hte name is going to be confusing enough, caught somewhere between Windows 7 & Windows Mobile). On top of all of this latest rumours suggest that by US launch MS will have about 1000 apps in their marketplace by launch not the 2000+ previously thought (ok so 2000+ was always only a leaked figure from somewhere unconfirmed). Don’t get me wrong 1000 apps isn’t a small number but it does seem rather insignificant compared to the competition (ok so give it time! it can only go up). Also missing are some proper in-depth handset / platform reviews from the likes of Modaco, The Register, PC Pro, Engadget etc… its almost like they are under NDA?

It seems I’m not the only one a bit confused by the lack of marketing support at launch –

or from twitter:

“Disappointed in the incredible lack of support for WP7 from telcos in lieu of tomorrows "launch". "Wp7? what’s WP7?"”

@WindowsPhoneUK Why is it that the launch date for Wp7 is tomorrow but only a few places appear to be stocking or even advertising? not good”

@VodafoneAU_help any details on #wp7 launch…?”

“RT: Windows Phone 7 Launch – c’mon UK providers! – Pretty much sums it up! :(“

It’s not like MS can’t get product launches right either! Kinect is about a month away from release & is rumoured to have sold out on pre-orders, and incidentally O2 had a full page spread about Kinect complete with pricing and games in its latest brochure.