In search of Windows Phone 7: UK high street says 'no'

Phone-y war

In search of Windows Phone 7: UK high street says 'no'

With only one day to go until Microsoft steps back into the smartphone battle with Windows Phone 7, UK phone carriers and retailers are champing at the bit to support its triumphant October 21st return.

Oh, wait - they're not.

If our survey of shops in Manchester city centre (the UK's second biggest city for non Brits) is anything to go by, Microsoft is going to have to spend more time, resources, and cash to get operators and retail interested.

And a lot more of all three to get potential consumers interested.

Streets of shame

This afternoon, I went into eight shops - five operators and three retailers - asking about Windows Phone 7 and when they would have handsets instore, with the following results.

1. Carphone Warehouse

A pleasant start. The salesman immediately knew about Windows Phone 7, notably the HTC HD 7 device being offered via O2, which was the only phone on company's system. However, a check revealed that there wasn't any stock in the warehouse.

"It will probably take one to two weeks to become available," he said. Being an HTC, it would probably be unlocked.

2. T-Mobile

The salesman didn't know about Windows Phone 7, but ventured the suggestion that there might be a Samsung Omnia device in the mix. Correct. T-Mobile has the Samsung Omnia 7 phone.

He had no idea about availability, however.

3. Phones 4U #1

Definitely the worst experience. The salesman had no idea about Windows Phone 7. He suggested I check out the GSMArena website.

4. Orange

The salesman immediately knew Orange was selling the HTC 7 Mozart and Samsung Omnia 7, although there was some confusion about whether the Omnia would be available tomorrow. The Mozart definitely would.

Incidentally, Orange was the only store with instore branding, although this was specifically for the Mozart 7 device and didn't mention Windows Phone 7 at all.

5. Three

Two sales people - one male, one female. They didn't appear to be very excited about Windows Phone 7, but they did know it was coming, probably around October 25th.

"We might not get anything in until the end of the month, although you can pre order it next week if you like," I was advised.

6. Vodafone

This was an interesting experience. Again, there were two salesmen - one had heard about Windows Phone 7 but was confused about when it would come and what it was.

The other had received training on the software "four weeks ago". Availability was thought to be in ago two weeks' time. "They might lump it in with the N8 and the Desire 2," I was told, confusingly.

7. Phones 4U #2

It couldn't have been any worse than my first time with Phones 4U: it seems that no one in the organisation has heard about Windows Phone 7.

A quick check on the fabled GSMArena website revealed a little more information, although the appearance of the HTC HD 7 did give the salesman an idea.

"Have you seen the HTD Desire HD?" he said. "Why not buy this?"

When told I was interested in the Xbox Live integration, his calm response was, "Well, Android is an open platform. Maybe you'll be able to get Xbox on Android in future."

I suggested Google and Microsoft weren't great chums.

8. O2

The final stop on my odyssey. O2 knew exactly what was going on.

"We had the reps in last week. We'll be getting phones in store on Saturday," a smart saleswoman said.

Of course, Windows Phone 7 was never going to be an iPhone-style launch with people queuing around the block on launch day.

However, there's a surprising lack of information available for someone coming into a shop and actively asking for a Windows Phone 7 the day before launch.

It doesn't seem that Apple, Google, and BlackBerry have too much to worry about at the moment.

Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at PG.biz which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.