Correction, Nov. 20, 2013: This post is based on a false premise. I got the idea that Instagram for Windows Phone doesn't support in-app taking of pictures from an article at The Verge which has since been updated and now says "Instagram claims the app does not support in-app photo-taking, but we found that it works just fine" with further explication of the issue.The basic point that the app isn't yet full-featured and isn't a high development priority at Instagram more-or-less stands, but I wouldn't have written this post had I had correct information from the start. As a matter of policy we don't make flawed articles vanish, but it's a fundamentally flawed item that shouldn't have been written.
Windows Phone looks cool. And I don't think it's going too far to say that the "Metro" design concept is currently inspiring a new wave of redesigns of websites and operating systems. But the platform is basically a joke, and nothing demonstrates that more than the release of Instagram for Windows Phone.
Here's the punchline: You can't take photographs with it.
You need to take photos with the default camera app, then switch over to Instagram, then load the photo from your photo collection, and then do your filters and sharing. Lame.
But here's the really important thing. If a popular social network released an Android or iOS app that had a bizarre crippling flaw compared with the original version, that would be a problem for the company that made the app. The problem for Microsoft is that this lame app is a problem for the Windows Phone platform. No entrepreneur is going to launch a new app on Windows Phone, and nobody is going to make Windows Phone the second operating system they support either. It'll be an app development afterthought. Which means that to sell phones, you need to crush the competition on hardware specs. But Microsoft/Nokia has no capacity to do this. Apple and Samsung (and to a lesser extent Motorola and HTC) are already fully capable of contracting with the top-tier parts suppliers to get great chips and displays.
So they're stuck with phones that look nice but have sharply reduced functionality compared with mainstream alternatives. You could try to go cheap, but OEMs who want to make low-end phones can load them with Android for free. How are you going to compete with free on the low end? Whoever the board picks to be Microsoft's next CEO has a tough job.
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