We continue with the second and final part of the interview with XDA member quicksite, organizer of the Devvy Awards:
Part 2 final
orb3000: What are the most important areas that you are covering on the WM Devvys 2010?
quicksite: There are several areas of nomination categories that we are covering in the Windows Mobile voting site. They recognize outstanding achievement for Windows Mobile in the following areas: New Application Development, Essential OS Replacement Interface Components and Functions, Interface Shell and Application Launcher, Utility/Applet/Scripting Development, Widget Development or Plug-ins for “Today” or “Home” Screen, Rom Performance and Usability, Theming and Skinning Development, Instructional Writing and Design, Community Forum Feedback and Q&A Support, Special Recognition for Multiple-Year Achievements, Special Recognition for Device Operating System Level Engineering, and Special Recognition for XDA Rom Chefs Hall of Fame.
orb3000: What is your opinion regarding Microsoft practically killing WM and trying to substitute it with WP7, do you think it’s a good strategy?
quicksite: I think that Microsoft boxed themselves in, and I think that WP7 is their “Hail Mary Pass” in order to stay in the game. Could they have stayed in the game by massively upgrading the interface for WM, and calling that WP7? Seems to me yes. But I can’t speak to the engineering reasons of why they opted not to do that, I don’t have a background to speak to that in terms of the viability of the architecture of the operating system. But from a pure marketing perspective, I have to say yes, it was probably a good idea. They were deader than a doorknob for two entire years, and out of the game. While in October 2009, we saw the introduction of the Droid, with this phenomenal campaign from Verizon and Motorola, and it just kicked the ass out of Apple all the way through to Christmas. And then 2010 began with Google launching their own Nexus One phone, and the Android operating system just took off. So, in 2010, the story was the incredible growth of Android. And WM, there was not a peep to be heard from them. All people knew, for the entire year was: “Will Android dethrone the iPhone?” “Who’s got better apps, iPhone or Android?” Maybe you heard some additional chatter about Palm’s webOS, which has gotten incredible reviews. But from Microsoft and Windows: nothing. And though WM 6.5.3 had finger-friendly navigation, it didn’t have an over-the-air marketplace for applications, and it just didn’t fit the paradigm for what consumers were comparing in phone stores, with their carriers, on the web, and in comparison articles.
Now the question is: will the specific phones that Windows delivers under this new brand satisfy the expectations of consumers? I have mixed feelings about that. From the first day that I saw the interface, graphically the home screen looked bold and innovative and crisp. But when I looked at 6 items on that screen, and then I looked at my Android device, I had about twice that many items of active information there at a glance. So in terms of usability, there’s just no comparison. Basically, the WP7 user experience from my point of view is big and bold and monochromatic, and that may wear off. But at the same time, I have strongly believed that all Microsoft has to do is deliver a competent phone into the marketplace. It just has to work, and work well, and then their marketing dollars can be bulldozed throughout the world. The many corporations worldwide that have Microsoft as their complete IT solution are going to want their employees to have Microsoft devices in the field as their work phones. And so by that measure alone, there will be millions of these phones instantly adopted. So, to me, the phones and the operating system will take root. I just don’t think that they have a break-out phone or operating system that has any chance of overtaking iPhone or Android.
But your core question is, I think, could they have achieved the same thing with Windows Mobile? And then you have to split that into two questions, first, with the operating system Windows Mobile? And second, with the brand Windows Mobile? The second one’s easy to answer: everyone knows they had to change the brand, because the brand gave them a new shiny plate to work from. So, they were already calling Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Windows Phone. So that leaves the question of: could they have launched this new user experience and over-the-air marketplace on the existing architecture that was the Windows Mobile platform? The answer to that is, for me, I simply don’t know.
orb3000: When we can expect to have the voting for WM on line?
quicksite: Voting will begin on December 22nd, the Wednesday before Christmas, and continue over a 7-day period. To meet that deadline, we’re on a very tight schedule as we speak, with the design firm working with me on the website right now. It’s essential that we communicate: “What are the Devvys?” “How do they work?” “Who can vote?” “How do I vote?” “How are they tabulated?” “How do you prevent multiple-voting or fraud?” — all the basic FAQs one would expect. We’re also just finalizing the banner ads that will run both here on XDA and on various other developer community sites. That ad-to-site linkage has to occur because we’re well aware most people will only learn of the awards for the first time through the ads, then they’ll go to the devvyawards site, and need to be oriented to the scope of the awards program, since there will be back-to-back awards divisions for the Devvys — starting first with Windows Mobile. The third and most critical component is the integration of the voting sub-site, which is on a separate web-software platform that we link to, but stays within the devvys brand experience. Though we had this site essentially all set and ready to go since May, the whole WindowsPhone/ WindowsMobile issue halted that, and we’re just now in final stages of reformatting the awards to reflect that. You and I are meeting several times this week to button that down and finalize it in time for the site launch. If all goes well, voting is completed on Dec 29th, and the Devvy Special Tribute Awards for Windows Mobile winners are announced on December 30th or 31st on our website.
orb3000: And the other Operating Systems?
quicksite: Nominations for 2010 Application Achievement Awards for Android, webOS, iPhone, and Blackberry platforms begins December 27th, the Monday after Christmas, and will be open for 3-weeks minimum. Stay tuned on the website for full details.
orb3000: Well, we thank you for your answers and we’re looking forward to the release of the WM Devvy Awards 2010. Would you like to add any final comments?
quicksite: I have two final comments. One is a big thank you to XDA developers for tremendous support throughout this entire year in helping to nurture this project. The visibility provided by this site has helped inform at least some percentage of the touchscreen application developer community out there, that this recognition program has been formed. It has a large mission to not only put a spotlight on outstanding achievement in various categories of App and Widget development, for the various Touchscreen phone and tablet platforms, but also to signal to the Tech Industry at large that the development community is very well aware of their own worth, and their incredibly significant role in being the engine of commerce that is driving the entire industry. XDA developers has been generous in providing several stories about the Devvys – we’re still not highly visible yet, so all forms of exposure are really important. And I certainly thank you, Orb3000, for your critical role in the very simple act of making my thread from December 2009 a sticky thread, so it had a chance to gather some momentum and visibility.
My second comment picks up on the theme of relative contribution in this enormous touchscreen industry. It’s my hope that the Devvy Awards will begin a process that helps to flip the playing board on its nose, because just as the film industry has always known that “content is king”, no matter what the delivery system is, so too content will be king in the realm of touchscreens. There will only be a few more years where phone manufacturers and carriers will be able to differentiate themselves by touting hardware. At the end of the day, hardware, while hugely important and never to be minimized, is merely the pipeline through which content flows. And without application developers creating products to sell through the pipeline, there is almost nothing more to the business. Thus, the Devvys are ahead of the game. And we hope to influence the playing field, but it’s more like we hope to assert the absolute importance of this development community across the various operating system platforms. They are not to be minimized or kicked to the side as the unnamed players, with the chatter being dominated as it has in the past with “Who’s got the most apps?” and the measuring of the entire industry by the perpetual packaging of the economic forces that matter, such as “Who’s ahead, Apple or Google?” That’s sexy, but hopefully tech reporting in 2011 starts getting real.
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