Microsoft, say hello to Common Sense. No, you don’t know each other, but you should. The reason that I’m so certain you’re not acquainted is because of some of your recent business decisions.
I speak first and foremost about your renaming of the Windows Mobile platform. Since you had apparently decided that "Windows Mobile Pocket PC," "Pocket PC Phone," and "Windows Mobile Smartphone" were too — I don’t know, helpful? Descriptive? — you selected a new nomenclature for each version: Windows Mobile Classic, Windows Mobile Professional, and Windows Mobile Standard, respectively.
Now, had Common Sense been in the room when you did this, it would have pointed out the following: none of these names make any sense, nor do they convey at all what you’re supposed to be buying.
The reason I know this is because I use my brain to think. Two minutes of pondering provided me with a laundry list of problems with the whole idea, not least of which being the vast increase in customer confusion. I can already hear the salespeople trying to explain it to potential buyers…
"Well, this one is a Standard device, so it doesn’t have a touchscreen."
"Wait, if a touchscreen isn’t standard, why do those other ones have it?"
"Well, those are Professional devices."
"Okay, so only the professional devices have touchscreens?"
"No, the Classic ones do to."
"If they’re classic, and the other ones are professional, how is it that the one that’s supposedly standard doesn’t have a touchscreen, and doesn’t run the same software as the other two?"
"Well, that’s just what they call it."
"Never mind. I’m going to go buy that BlackBerry. At least then I know what I’m getting."
I have to admit, this and other similar reasons are why I don’t worry about you people taking over the world the way some do. For all the money you spend on marketing, most of it is still wasted spinning your wheels.
Much Less Confusing Options
Had you really felt the need to rename your mobile platforms, there were much better alternatives. That two minutes of pondering I referred to earlier provided me with a set of my own.
Windows Mobile Smartphones stay as they are. "Smartphone," despite the sometime confusion between the big-S and little "s" versions of the word, communicates clearly what the device is: it’s a smart phone, a phone which does more.
Pocket PC Phones become Windows Mobile Communicators. It sounds more appealing and stylish, and reflects the emphasis on data and messaging functions rather than voice.
And last but not least, Pocket PCs keep their name, marketed as a mobile laptop replacement or supplement. The "Pocket PC" name is too perfect for this role, being a PC in your pocket. Yeah, yeah, you can talk to me about UMPCs when they actually live up to any of the hype that was spread about them.
These names are simple, effective, and they convey a definite sense of what a customer is getting when they put money on the table; yet somehow the billion-dollar marketers of Microsoft missed them. A little help from Common Sense would have prevented us from having to suffer through these terrible new names for the year or so until the next version of Windows Mobile.
Unfortunately, it seems that the marketing department is thinking so deeply inside the box that they can’t even see the light of day anymore.