There’s no question I get asked more often about leaving Microsoft. Sure, people want to know what start-up culture is like (Ping pong table? Check. Kegerator? Check.) And folks who have never worked at a start-up want to know about how risky an endeavor it is. I would have expected that. But I never would have expected the fascination with my choice of phone OS.
Maybe it’s because there’s something about your phone in this day-and-age that’s so personal. It’s your constant companion, your gateway to the world; is there a product with which you have more interaction?
So you might imagine I feel really strongly one way or another, but I’m torn. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Keep Windows Phone
First and foremost, I love this phone. My current one is a Nokia Lumia 928 and it’s the best phone I’ve had. It takes amazing photos, can transfer data with NFC (which almost never gets used), and can charge wirelessly (which gets used all the time.) And I’m a big fan of the Live Tile / Metro interface and operating system.
Then why get rid of it? Apps. The app situation is every bit as bad as it’s made out to be. When I was at Microsoft I used to roll my eyes every time I would hear “we have 48 of the top 50 apps!” Because, while technically true, a more accurate stat would have been “we have 3 of the top 5 apps” (missing Instagram and Pinterest.)
Sure, we finally got Instagram, but we still have a deprecated experience on it. There’s still no Pinterest or Snapchat, which means it’s virtually impossible to plan my wedding or send pictures of my genitals to my wife. And if the big blockbuster apps are only 95% there, you better believe the long tail of up-and-coming apps are less than 5% there. It’s enough to make you feel as if there’s an entire economy you’re not participating in.
And I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future. At Microsoft people touted the 50 million unit mark as a big one; once you start selling 50 million phones a year then the audience starts getting big enough for app developers to dedicate resources to the platform. But the reality is that app developers have limited resources, and you’re always going to get served third no matter how big in absolute terms your third slice of pie is.
I’ve been hating on the iPhone since ’07. I bring that up not necessarily as a point of pride, but to note that getting an iPhone now would be tantamount to admitting I was wrong for the last 7 years; cognitive dissonance is a powerful force.
I remember once in our apartment in DC having a race with Alex Field to see whether he could really type faster on his iPhone than I could on my state-of-the-art BlackBerry, which had a real keyboard like all real smartphones did. I don’t remember exactly what the paragraph was that we raced to complete (I think it might have been something from the Federalist Papers), but I remember that I lost.
On a more practical level, my iPhone would constantly be out of batteries. Aside from the aforementioned wireless charger I have, there are also a zillion USB chargers near every outlet and hidden away in every travel bag I own; replacing them all with iPhone 5 chargers would cost hundreds of dollars, which I’d need to do again if Apple decides it would be 2% faster or more stylish if they completely change the format on the iPhone 6 or some other hair-brained idea that puts aesthetics above practicality. As you can see, I have some issues with Apple as a brand. But seriously, does no one ever question why they’re using a non-standard charging format?
I think a big part of the Android pitch is that it’s married to all the other Google services you use and love; the problem for me is that I don’t use any of them anymore. I’d be fine switching over for maps and search, but I wonder what the Android experience is like using Outlook.com for email and OneDrive for storage. And I’m skeptical about using an OS from a company that’s fighting so hard to promote their inferior social network against Twitter and Facebook/Instagram. But if I can get my hands on one, I’ll give it a whirl.
For now I’m waiting to see how the Windows Phone ecosystem evolves. I really want to be able to use this phone, but hate feeling like I’m stuck with the apps from 3 years ago.
Is there anything else I should be considering? Fangirls and fanboys of all platforms, sell me on yours.