Microsoft: 'We love being the underdog?

Mobile boss says software giant needs to get better at listening to lead with Windows Phone
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Microsoft is happy to trail behind its competitors in the mobile space but believes it can still take the market lead in the future, a company executive has told PCR.

The software giant launched its Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system last month to the praise of actor Stephen Fry, who has long been unofficially aligned with rival firm Apple.

Fry described Microsoft as the ‘underdog’ of the smartphone market, as it faces stiff competition from more popular products such as the iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia’s Symbian and Google’s Android system.

Aaron Woodman, director of Microsoft’s mobile communications business, told PCRhe ‘absolutely’ agreed with Fry’s description. “This is a tough, competitive market. We very much feel like we have to be better at listening to our customers, we have to be better at working with the channels, we have to be better at training retail,” he said.

“We know in reality that the competition is not going to go away any time soon. I love that. How often is Microsoft the underdog? I do think that’s probably true.”

Despite the vendor’s trailing position in the smartphone sector, Woodman said it intends to become the market leader. “It’s definitely our aspiration but first and foremost we have to ship a product that when people buy it, they fall in love. So it’s not so much step one: Ship the product, step two: Take over the world. We all want to sell a lot of phones but I think our most important concern is that people have a great experience,” he said.

Woodman added that he was unsure whether Microsoft would make another handset following the failure of its fledgling Kin smartphone, which was withdrawn from US retail this summer, following disappointing sales, just weeks after hitting shelves.

“I personally believe, and I think the business believes, that we’re better with partners,” he told PCR. “There’s more diversity of hardware when you work with partners; they’re trying to create a niche, they’re looking at the individual customers, but I wouldn’t rule anything out... I don’t think we see any hard and fast boundaries.”

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