We sat down with Gustavo at GITEX to discuss Windows Phone.
We managed to get some time with Mr. Gustavo Fuchs who is the Director for Mobility at Microsoft Middle East & Africa. We spoke to Gustavo about the localization of the platform as well as where it stands in the region.
Overall, how is Windows Phone doing in the region?
We are not treating this as a number game at the moment. we are treating this as an early adaptor soft launch of our phone. We just want to make sure there are official ways for people to acquire devices and what we are paying attention at this point is satisfaction. So the satisfaction of the users is important and more than 70% of the users are happy with the platform and have actually referred it to others. As more functionalities are introduced in this region, we will increase the exposure of the platform.
What is Microsoft doing to localize Windows Phone for the region?
We are working in two stages. Stage no. 1 is working with our partner Yalla Apps to bring Apps to the region. Over the last 6 months we got more than 3000 developers and more than 500 apps. A lot of those apps are Arabic focused like either language wise or culture such as Prayer Times. So that’s stage no.1.
Stage no. 2 is over a longer period of time to have the whole experience of the phones in the local language. I cannot give you a date now not because I don’t want just because the date might change.
As per my discussions with Nokia , they said they are gonna build some sort of Arabic support into the device and as far as the marketplace is concerned, they said that they are gonna have their OVI store which will be a front end for the marketplace where you will be able to buy the applications from. Can you comment on that, can you say?
So there is a very interesting concept and this is unique for Windows and all that. It is a concept of Store – n -Store. And how this works? So we have our marketplace where users are able to download free apps, download trial apps and download paid apps but when you enter in the marketplace depending on which device you have or which operator you are on, you have a store from that manufacturer or a store from that operator. So for example you have a Samsung Omnia so when you enter into the marketplace and you are going to see that there is a Samsung zone and that’s a Store – n –Store.
The first thing for the manufacturers is that they can make applications that are exclusive to them or they are actually free on their device but paid on a traditional marketplace. And that’s the same for the operator. So today HTC has such concept, Samsung has such concept, LG has such concept and we believe Nokia will adopt this concept as well to provide additional value to users. That’s for the operator / manufacturer.
The other perspective that finding apps the traditional way is of course you have your credit card. But there are lot ways that we are working on to make sure users are happier on purchasing an ap- specifically for this region.
I’ll mention two- first one is a prepaid card right so in this region if I go broader Middle East and Africa so we have two phenomenas. One phenomena is that in the Gulf region people are not comfortable with the concept of using their credit cards online. So prepaid cards is a great opportunity for them. If you go little bit down to Africa, people don’t have credit cards. So prepaid cards is a great way for them to have access to that and we are working to make this available.
The other is operator billing. So if I have a post paid line, you can get apps and the description lies within my bill instead of needing to add a credit card and so forth. So we are working those through deals to make sure marketplace becomes available for others to use in the region. I can’t give you a time frame just because it might change but we are working. That’s in our agenda and we are working very hard to get that done.
Can you talk to us about the Skype integration in Windows phone and how is it gonna work in this region specifically?
The acquisition of Skype still up for approvals across the world. Europe was just approved but there are lot of other approvals that need to happen but independent of acquisitions you know Skype has announced that they will have an application for Window phones. We don’t have the details yet specific to this market and specific to timeframe. We know that their application will be available this month.
One of the things introduced in Mango is multi tasking by freezing apps in the background. I have tested Whatsup, but it hasn’t always worked properly. At times I have goten notifications 2-3 hours later than I should have. Could you tell us why that happens and is that the application developers fault?
So Whatsup is now available in the Store along with many other chat clients like Kik Messenger. Also, the overall concept of threads like Facebook chat and MSN Messenger are now part of the phone. So for developers we created the new SDK that enables them to take care of such benefits and functionalities of Mango. Specific to Whatsup, they are releasing updates to make sure the application behaves the best possible way. I think it is just a matter of time for them to get it right. I personally use another application that provide the same functionality and that app works quite well.
We want to thank Gustavo for taking the time to have a chat with us. Don’t forget to read my thoughts on Mango.