How do you say "smash success" in Ukrainian?
According to a new report from the research firm IDC -- as shared by Microsoft's Frank Shaw in a recent blog post -- Windows Phone has topped BlackBerry in 26 markets and the iPhone in seven. Shaw didn't divulge those seven mysterious markets in his blog post, but when The New York Times contacted IDC, an analyst named Kevin Restivo shared their identity.
And the countries where Windows Phone has topped the iPhone are -- drumroll, please --
- South Africa!
- A market IDC identifies as "the rest of Central and Eastern Europe," which includes Croatia!
None of these markets, obviously, bring in the sales numbers of the United States or China; indeed, three of them, the Times notes, meant less than 100,000 handset shipments for Microsoft. And, also, we're talking about shipments and not sales, meaning that Microsoft is bragging about how many devices it sent to retailers, and not how many phones it had actually sold to end users.
Still, though, topping the iPhone anywhere represents a small victory for Windows Phone, Microsoft's late-to-market mobile operating system which really only debuted in its current form about three years ago. Since then, the story behind Windows Phone has been that it has struggled to gain market share from industry leaders iOS and Android, despite huge advertising spending campaigns; enthusiastic reviews from tech critics and journalists and a partnership with what was the world's largest mobile phone maker, Nokia.
And yet even with all that firepower, Windows Phone has languished in the single percentage points for market share, both worldwide and in the United States, failing to catch on with a broader populace in any meaningful way.
So while winning Poland might not seem like anything to brag about (especially for a mega-corporation like Microsoft)), Microsoft and its Windows Phone division will surely accept and blast out any kind of victory, no matter how minor it might appear. If all those Jessica Alba and Cam Newton and Gwen Stefani Windows Phone advertisements start paying off in America, there is no doubt that Microsoft will be sharing those accomplishments as well.
Apple, meanwhile, probably isn't shaking in its figurative boots over this news. These markets are small and business is quite robust elsewhere.
There is some reason to pause, however: Apple's failure to infiltrate markets like India (where it is apparently losing to Windows Phone) speaks to a wider issue facing the iPhone in emerging economies. In countries like China and India, carriers do not subsidize the cost of the phone for the customer like they do in the United States, which means that shoppers are paying full price for the phone upfront. In other words, a new iPhone 5 costs something like $700 instead of $200, which has proven prohibitive for many Indian and Chinese shoppers and has, at least in part, prevented Apple from gaining a foothold in those markets.
A budget iPhone -- or iPhone nano, or iPhone mini, whatever you want to call it -- is Apple's long-rumored solution to that problem, an iPhone that is cheaper to make and that would cost less upfront money. Apple has once again been predicted to release a budget iPhone in summer 2013, thereby attacking Android's dominance in China (and in all seven of the countries listed above). If the appeal of the iPhone is so weak in those countries that it is getting defeated by Windows Phone, then Apple will need a different approach to secure any kind of momentum there.
And so we will wait to see if Apple does indeed out an iPhone nano this year, or if it is happy to surrender those emerging markets to Google and Microsoft in return for continued appeal in the West. In the meantime, grab a plate of varenyky and wash it down with a nice glass of Slavutich, Microsoft execs: You are winning over customers in the Ukraine. All you have to do now is win over the rest of the world.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Vince Young had appeared in commercials for Windows Phone. He has not. Cam Newton, however, has appeared in Windows Phone advertisements.
Touchscreen Password To Unlock
The Microsoft team showed off a neat new password system to unlock Windows 8 computers. When your computer is locked, normally you have to type in a text password to regain access to the system; Windows 8 gives the user an option to unlock via a combination of touches and swipes, which might sound familiar to Android users.<br> <br> When setting up your password, you choose a picture, and you select where on the picture you want to tap and swipe in order to unlock the screen. For example, at the Windows Build conference, Windows Corporate Vice President Julie Larson-Green showed off her picture-password: a photo of her daughter (above) standing on a pier holding a glass of lemonade appeared, and Larson-Green tapped on her daughter's nose, then on the glass of lemonade, then drew a line from the edge of the pier to the edge of the glass of lemonade. Voila! The screen was unlocked. <br>
Email Notifications On Lock Screen
Speaking of that screen, Windows 8 has taken another cue from mobile operating systems and will automatically show on the lock screen relevant information like upcoming calendar events and emails received when the user was away from the keyboard. This is a small upgrade, but it eliminates the need to unlock your computer just to see if you missed anything while you were gone: Windows 8 will tell you from the moment you return your screen what happened during your time away. <br> <br> The lock screen also displays battery information, time and any instant messages you may have missed while you were away from your device.<br> <br> You might be thinking to yourself (à la George Bluth in the "Spring Breakout" episode of Arrested Development), "What does that save, like two seconds?" But, if you've used a Windows or Android smartphone with this feature, you know how helpful it can <em>feel</em> to know immediately about what you missed when you were unplugged.
Really Fast Booting
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/13/windows-8-pictures_n_960301.html" target="_hplink">This one was teased ahead of the Build Conference</a>, but they showed it off on-stage anyway, and it is still very impressive. Windows 8 will apparently boot in 8 seconds, thanks to a new process of putting the kernel session to sleep rather than closing it out altogether and having to reboot it completely. See the video (above) for a demonstration of how fast a computer running Windows 8 will be able to boot up from no power to start screen.
System Refresh Without Deleting Music, Movies Or Documents
No, this doesn't mean you can throw away your external hard drive or cancel your Dropbox account. But it may prove to be a convenient and hardware-less way to restore your system without losing all of your precious, precious media, or that novel you've been working on. A push of the button from the Control Panel activates the system refresh, making it pretty convenient for the average PC user.
The New Task Manager
As Sinofsky noted at the Build Conference, it's been two decades since Microsoft redesigned its task manager, and Windows 8 brings a new look and interface to what is (unfortunately) one of my most used Windows utilities. <br> <br> The new task manager looks great--easy to read and use, with all the pertinent information lined up in columns. As a bonus, the task manager also allows you to add and delete which programs you want to automatically load at startup (hallelujah!).<br> <br> Those "suspended" apps you see, by the way? When you are running apps in the tablet-ified 'Metro' view, they stop running when you switch over to 'Desktop' view, saving you CPU usage. Good idea, Microsoft.
Split Keyboard For Thumb-Typers
Are you a thumb-typer? When you hold a tablet, do you type with your thumbs rather than all of your fingers? Or, do you type a lot on the go, where you can't put your slate down for proper Mavis Beacon typing technique?<br> <br> Then the thumb-typing keyboard--selectable from the keyboard menu--might just be for you.
The Share Charm
Sitting on the start bar in 'Metro View' is the "Share Charm," a little button that pulls up a sidebar (seen above) for easy sharing through a number of different apps. Microsoft put much of its focus on interactivity and connectivity--from apps playing well with each other, to the fact that all Windows 7 programs will run on Windows 8, to putting much of Windows Live in the cloud--and the Share charm is no different. It's a handy little utility baked into Windows 8 that allows users to share what they're looking at with anyone in their address book using the automatic Share program. Select what you want to share and who you want to share it with, add an optional message and press 'Send."
More Free RAM
If all of these features, multiple interfaces and visually-striking touch-and-slide systems look like they use a lot of RAM--well, they don't. According to Sinofsky, Windows 8 takes up 281MB to run on startup, versus 404MB for Windows 7 (and this is the Windows 8 Developer's Beta!). Another encouraging sign from an operating system that has historically been accused of memory hogging. <br> <br>