67+ Years Pondering and Pontificating

What do you get after all these years have passed by, and you start looking back ? For me, lots of great memories, an amazing wife, a quad of great kids, a baker's dozen of grandkids, and several tons of experience. Of course, it also brings some entrenched opinions, thoughtful ideas, and perhaps some insight that will help others on their journey through life. Hopefully the posts on these pages will be useful and interesting.

Why is Verizon Sandbagging Win Phone?

My previous post discussed the Windows Phone, a cellular option most people don’t even know exists.  I highlighted a few of the features and then shared the lack of success falls on the heads of the retailers.  That viewpoint deserved some amplification.

Yesterday I paid a visit to my local Verizon company store.  My first task was to see if the WIndows phones had a viable presence in the store.  Of the 56 phones on display, only 3 were  iPhones, and 3 Windows phones were buried amid the other 50 Droids.  There were no signs indicating the existence of the WIndows phone system, or it’s benefits.

In my conversation with sales people, I found they never show the phones unless someone walks into the store and insists on seeing one.  The models on display are the older WinPhone 8.0 versions and do not have the current features of the 8.1 system or Cortana.  One salesman informed me if someone needed to have access to Office documents he might show them a WInPhone, but otherwise it was Android all the way.  Another salesman immediately offered that no one in the store had any training ( or experience ) with a Windows phone.  When I showed a few of its features, they were quite surprised, but not enough to ever show one.   The one salesman who had some knowledge of the phone did offer that it would absolutely be the best solution for someone who wanted excellent photos.  He acknowledged that Nokia cameras were the best of any phone.

Clearly the WinPhone is a very viable solution for many people.  The technology, and ease of use, is exceptional.  The screens are bright, active tiles turn the start screen into a meaningful tool, and there are features simply not available in other phones.  If the salespeople actually displayed, and showed, these phones, market share would likely rise dramatically.

I won’t speculate on why Verizon wants to sandbag these phones though many theories are possible.  I know there is a clear arrogance associated with the brand because, as the store manager pointed out, they have the best coverage of anyone, and keep gaining customers who drop the competing carriers so they can have no dropped calls, and stronger signals almost anywhere.  They know even contract buyout offers from other carriers are not going to be appealing when coverage is not solid enough. Thus, they can do whatever they want, and sell whatever products they want, and hide the others. 

I’m always impressed with Amazon because, though they are huge, and very popular, they have a corporate culture that focuses on doing the right thing for their customers.  I only wish Verizon reflected the same corporate culture.  Reading online comments from customers would lead us to believe otherwise.  In this case, they are depriving their customers from seeing what might be the best solution for their needs.

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Why Not A Windows Phone ?

thIn the next 4 months, over 450,000,000 smartphones will be sold throughout the world.  That’s quite a market, yet most people will only be deciding between two brands, Samsung and Apple.  Those are what their friends use, so they must be the only option.  With the reveal yesterday of the new iPhone 6 models, and last week announcements about new Samsung products, the future looks profitable for both companies.  For those of us who tend to be non-conformists, dare we ask “Is that all there is?”

My history with cell technology started in 1986 when portability was attained by carrying the phone in a backpack, with its external antenna and a corded handset.  Since then I’ve had a variety of devices, but in recent years I settled on the lesser known Windows  Phone !  I will admit, in the early days, Windows and phones just didn’t mix.  However, with the advent of WinPhone 7, 8, and now 8.1, I’ve enjoyed a very satisfying smart device that works flawlessly, competes well on the features,  and is easy to use.

I carry a Nokia Lumia Icon, running the latest operating system.  It has an amazing 20 megapixel camera, plus does HD video recording, and has lots of nice editing applications provided for free.  With 13 grandkids, pictures are a must.  When it comes to texting, no problem, and voice calls are clear and solid. 

So what makes it stand out ?  I’m big on contacts.  Frankly, I have a lot of them.  I know the other companies will let you store contacts, but it’s pretty plain vanilla in how they display.  Well, with my Icon, the first thing I see is all of the contact info others see on their devices.  Wait.  Slide the screen left and I have my connect page.  So, if my contact is on Facebook, Twitter, or others, it shows up on that screen.  Slide left again and I hit the What’s new page, with their recent posts on social media.  One more slide and I see my recent communications with them.  Do I have to add all of this info in ?   NOPE !  It all populates automatically.

On my main people page I can look up contacts, or I can slide  left and see What’s New, which are social media posts.  You guessed it, all automatically uploaded based on my memberships ( ie. Facebook ).  Slide left again, and I can create chat rooms, or groups to communicate with quickly ( thus not having to set up a group of names for each text message ).  I don’t have time to call all my friends, but it sure is nice to keep current, or check out recent events in their lives before connecting. 

I hear a lot of people complain that WinPhones don’t have as many apps as the two big guys.  That is true.  However, that doesn’t mean areas are left uncovered.  Most people only use 10 to 15 applications on their phone.  Usually they want communications, social media, camera with apps, and perhaps banking.  The Windows Phone has all those bases covered.  Want to watch videos ?  Covered.  Need radio ? Covered.  News ? Covered.  Maps ?  Dining reservations ?  Locating stores ? Music?   All covered.  I even get my Disneyland wait times!

So what does Windows Phone have that the other guys don’t ?  Cortana !  Who is that lady ?  She knows so much, and does so much.  She is also very friendly with my apps.  So, I press a button on the face of my phone and she asks how she can help me.  I say “Are there Italian restaurants around here?” and she shows me a list.  Press on any of them for directions, menus, rankings from Yelp, or even reservations.  It’s all good.  Of course I can tell her to add things to my calendar, send text messages to someone, make a call, set reminders, and even give me directions.  Sure, you can do this on other phones, but do you have a personal assistant that can do all of these things for you?  You can use a bluetooth headset to awake Cortana, and give her instructions.  She also plays friendly with the voice activation system on my Ford Fusion so I’m always hands free.  In fact, when a text comes in, she reads it to me in the car and allows me to dictate a reply.

I realize the sales are not great ( yet ) on Win Phone, but that is not the fault of Microsoft, or Nokia.  I’ve witnessed enough to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the cell phone carriers and tech press.  They simply don’t know the product, and the sales people will push what they like, even if it’s not right for you.  The press focuses on their techie desires, and often write without ever spending time with a Win Phone.  So, if you are “in the market” and considering a new phone, head on down to a Microsoft store where you will get plenty of hands on time with one of these devices ( and maybe some refreshments ).  You will find,honest, friendly, salespeople who will not be at all pushy or negative.  Do your research because this might just be the phone of your dreams.

Thus, all of this leads to one question:  “Why not a windows phone?”  It is worth considering.

For more info, check out:     Nokia Lumia website       Windows Phone website

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