Talk about getting egg on your face. Microsoft lost quite a bit of credibility when it ran a “Smoked by Windows Phone” campaign, got smoked by an Android phone-wielding tech writer, refused to award the contest reward, and later apologized due to public outrage and ridicule. Not a good way to build credibility in the hyperheated smartphone/mobile device platform war where Microsoft is still currently a blip on the radar. Here’s the low down on what happened.
Microsoft is running a promo campaign in its stores where it will pay owners of competing smartphones if they can beat Windows Phone’s speed in doing basic tasks. Typical basic functions are finding local restaurants with high rights, looking up the weather, or sending a text message to your significant other. In most Microsoft stores, the bounty is set at $100.
However, for its Santa Clara branch, Microsoft offered a special-edition notebook computer worth north of $1000. The technology writer of Skatter Tech decided to take on Microsoft’s challenge. Tasked with bringing up the weather from two different cities, Katta’s Samsung Galaxy Nexus already has two weather widgets installed on its home screen. Both cities are in the SF Bay Area. He also set up the phone to bypass its standard lock screen when the phone’s power button is pressed. This bypass is a standard option for Android phones version 2.3 and above. When the “Smoked by Windows Phone” challenge began, Katta needed to only press the power button to bring up the two cities’ weather. Suffice to say, Katta won the challenge but the Microsoft staff said he lost. Asked for the reason why, the Microsoft staff eventually said that Katta lost because both cities he pulled up where in California. Katta wrote that he was not notified about any rule regarding the location of the cities.
Katta’s story drew a swarm of attention from the tech world. The story even showed up on Techmeme. After the firestorm of negative publicity, Ben Rudolph, Microsoft’s Senior Manager, promised, on Twitter, that he will give Katta an apology, a phone, and a laptop. Apparently, Microsoft has now advised its store staff to avoid challenges against certain makes of phones. Classy.
Anyway, clearly drawn out and explained rules would have prevented all this drama.