October 6th is an important day for Microsoft and Windows Mobile in particular due to the launch of the new brand Windows Phones, the new mobile operating system Windows Mobile 6.5 and two services Microsoft MyPhone and Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
I was fortunate to be invited by the Windows Mobile Team in the Netherlands to attend the local launch event at the Lute Suites in Amstelveen (near Amsterdam).
In his article I would like to share some thoughts on- and impressions of this successful event on a very cool location to launch new mobile technology.
1. Welcome and short introduction
The local Windows Phones launch event in the Netherlands starts with a short welcome followed by an introduction to Windows Phones and its new (marketing) campaign. I would like to quickly share some main points of this introductary part of the day.
Sometime ago people typically talked about the business market and consumer market as two totally different- and separated entities. However the ongoing trend is that the customer needs are changing and the consumer- and business needs converge. In other words you simply want one smartphone on which you use for business and personal things as well.
On the powerpoint-slide above you further see that three key concepts listed that drive Windows Mobile 6.5: (1) connect to people, (2) get stuff done and (3) meet my needs. In these concepts, which are a little more explained in the powerpoint slide below you can cleary see an excellent balance between productivity and efficiency vs. personalization and fun.
During research on the three screen strategy the is currently driving Microsoft I did a Google search with the keywords: “three screen strategy windows phones” and found a valuable powerpoint presentation originally designed by Vesa-Matti Paananen, Mobile Business Group Lead & Marketplace WE Marketing @ Microsoft, and is titeled “Mobility in Microsoft’s Three Screen Strategy & Windows Mobile 6.5“. It’s certainly interesting to read, and shows similarities with the presentations / workshop content that I was fortunate to see in real life. 🙂
Back on topic. After the general introduction you were able to attend three different workshops each covering a specific perspective of Windows Phones. I attended workshop 1 and workshop 2, since these were the workshops closest to the technical aspects of Windows Mobile.
2. Workshop: A technical look on Windows Mobile 6.5
The first workshop is hosted by Maarten Sonneveld, Business Group Lead Mobile of Microsoft Netherlands. The workshop starts with explaining the details on the Windows Phones branding inline with the outlined concepts in the previous section.
2.1 Connect to People (orange pillar)
The main message is that a Windows Phones has the best programs onboard to connect with colleagues, friends and family. For example think of excellent support of e-mailaccounts within Pocket Outlook (where all core PIM information is stored in one single application). But also Windows Live for Mobile or Microsoft Facebook for Mobile are great examples of excellent software to stay connect via Instant Messaging (IM) -and remark the voiceclips functionality- or Social Networks.
Furthermore Maarten Sonneveld, Business Group Lead Mobile of Microsoft Netherlands, discusses new Windows Mobile 6.5 features: (1) lockscreen, (2) new todayscreen, (3) new start menu. These features heavily contribue to a more optimized GUI for touch “control and on-device-navigation”. It might be interesting to compare the “HTC Touch2 review – Windows Mobile 6.5 and TouchFLO 3D combined !” and “Windows Mobile 6.5 on the HTC Snap – Impressions and thoughts” on these features. 🙂
2.2 Get Stuff Done (blue pillar)
After a demo the workshop is continued with capturing the value of Windows (Mobile). At first Windows Mobile has the best Microsoft Exchange synchronization avaialble, ad I must admit this is the key feature why I love my Windows Phone. Furthermor on my Windows Phone I can create and edit documents with the Ofice Mobile Suite on my Windows Phone.
Windows Mobile 6.5 takes advantage of the new Internet Explorer 6 (for Mobile) resulting in a more robust browsing experience and getting more transactions done on the internet. Very cool was also the MSN Money widget, based on the Intenet Explorer Mobile framework, that fist saw appear on the HTC Touch2. You an also create your own widgets, if you like.
Microsoft did also announce the Microsoft MyPhone, a free backup and restore service, for Windows Phones. Joris Jan Goos, Product Manager Mobile Services of Microsoft Netherlands, provides us with a demo of the Microsoft MyPhone, and shows of the new premium services. Good friend and colleague Paul Willen has covered these premium services really well in an article on www.mobiltyminded.com.
2.3 Meet My Needs (green pillar)
The last pillar covers the possible personalization aspects of Windows Phones. Back at CTIA Wireless 2009 not only Windows Marketplace for Mobile was announced, but also a number of partnerships with leading designers -like Mizrahi- that create cool (background) themes for Windows Phones.
Furthermore you can enhance your Windows Phone to your personal needs and demands with your favourite third party applications that make your Windows Phone even more powerfull. Windows Marketplace for Mobile makes the search for-and installation off these applications easier than ever before. In the next workshop the Windows Marketplace for Mobile will be covered a little more extensively.
Windows Phones are available from different brands, in different formfactors, and in different types of devices. This diversity in Windows Phones provides the end-users an optimal choice to choose a Windows Phone that best fits their personal needs and -demands.
The second workshop is hosted by Peter Broekroelofs, CTO and co-founder of application developer Service2Media.
Peter starts with a short introduction about Service2Media and its customers, and remarkable is the fact that Microsoft is one of their top technology partners. On the company website you can read that Service2Media was the first with Windows Mobile applicatons in the “Dutch” Windows Marketplace for Mobile:
“De Telegraaf – a dutch newspaper- news application is the first Windows 6.5 app in the Dutch Windows Marketplace app store. Other applications that will be developed for Windows Phones are Buienradar, NS Reisplanner Xtra and Rabobank CashMS.”
The concepts of these applications are discussed during the workhop, but more interesting is the discussion about the main drivers for the development of mobie applications. At first it is the technology that enables new opportunities.
For example alsmost every Windows Phone today in the Netherlands is sold with a flafree data subscription, that makes it possible to stay connected as long as yo have cellular coverage. Furhermore smartphones are becoming more and more powerful with different connectivity options (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth), a GPS-receiver and even accelorometers.
Another driver is the availability of application stores like Windows Marketplace (for Mobile) to provide visibility to reach the masses, easy on-device installation and easy secure payment. I was able to cover these aspects for Windows Marketplace for Mobile in a few articles: “Windows Marketplace for Mobile coming to Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.0” and “Windows Marketplace for Mobile – Payments and Operators“
Finally Service2Media and Windows Phones triggered the people who attended the workshop to be creative and think about an application concept. The best concept would be awarded with development of the application and a place in the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which is quite an opportunity especially if you are creative or have a background in software development.
4. Workshop: Organize your life with a Windows Phone – Tips from a professional lifestyle coach
The third workshop was hosted by Lorraine Simoons, professional organizer and life-style coach from SO Organized.
The title of the workshop is “private and work in balance with 12 simple tips“, and Lorraine shows that despite you are working hard on your personal carreer you can still have sufficient time for to spend with the people or things that are valuable to you.
The method is based on 12 tips framework, and one of the key approaches in the workshop is that technology -like Windows Phones- is a must-have partner for organizing and balancing your life !
5. Launching partners show off new Windows Phones
It was very cool to have these workshops with theoretical approaches, interesting and flashy demo’s, but also good questions and open discussions.
In addition there are four launching oem partners present at the Windows Phones launch event, to show their latest Windows Mobile 6.5 powered devices to the mobile tech-community in the Netherlands.
5.1 HTC (Benelux)
The first Windows Phone on the Dutch market with Windows Mobile 6.5 pre-loaded on the device is the HTC Touch2. Despite that the HTC Touch2 is positioned in the middle segment it is very powerfull and packed with technology and features.
At a very competitive pricepoint this is certainly an interesting device to “push” the Windows Mobile 6.5 market. If you are interested, you should check out the review of the HTC Touch2 on www.mobilityminded.com.
In addition there was a nice surprise, which is shown in the picture above: the local announcement of the latest powerhouse HTC HD2 by Mark Moons country manager HTC Benelux. This is certainly a device that makes the heartbeat of every geek rise immediately, and I was fortunate to have a short hands-on.
5.2 Samsung Mobile
The second OEM is Samsung Mobile, who announced a free Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrade for the Samsung Omnia II and the Samsung Omnia QWERTY.
Samsung Mobile had also a special new device in their suite, which is shown in the picture below. It is the Samsung Omnia Pro B7330 which will be a Windows Mobile 6.5 Standard device, and honestly I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
5.3 Sony Ericsson
Early september Sony Ericsson announced the Sony Ericsson Xperia X2, and at the Windows Phones launch event I was able to have a short demo of this Windows Phone.
5.4 LG Electronics
The final OEM partner present at the Windows Phones launch event is LG Electronics, with their latest Windows Mobile 6.5 device the LG GM750 with the S-Class interface. This device will be exclusively available via Vodafone only.
5.5 Other launching parters
While the previous launching partners are the device manufacturers there are also other partners involved in the local Windows Phones launch. I mut compliment Microsoft Netherlands for this approach since it provides the whole porfolio of partners involved (which reflects the underlying business model to some extent).
Mobile operator KPN provided a short workshop on their latest developments, while also the largest retailer of Windows Phones – Belcompany- was present at the Windows Phones launch.
In addition various application developers were there as well, and for example I talked with one of the founders of the Buienradar application.
6. Concluding thoughts on this event
At first I’m very grateful that the Windows Mobile team of Microsoft Netherlands invited me to attend the Windows Phones launch event in Amstelveen. Furthermore I would like to thank Weber Shandwick for the exceptional organization, communication and willingness to help.
It was also great to see such a diverse portfolio of launching partners, and I would like to thank each one of them for the excellent device demo’s and takng the time and patience to answer my questions. The presented or announced devices show the potential of Windows Mobile, and the richness of the platform is for example reflected in the different GUI’s developed by the OEM.
Finally I would like to recommend a video (in DUTCH) of Mobilyz.com website, who attended the event with a professional video crew. I think the video is a nice summary and wrap-up of this article that reflects a succesful Windows Phones launch on October 6th.