The "Smoked by Windows Phone" challenge, now renamed simply the Windows Phone challenge, hasn't been without controversy. That being said, Microsoft is about to take it to television, announcing on Tuesday that it would air the “Windows Phone Challenge” ad (embedded) starting this week during the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
The ad compares the camera on the Lumia 920, the current flagship Windows Phone 8 smartphone, with that on the Galaxy S III. The timing for the ad release may have been scheduled by the tournaments, but it also means that the ad airs after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4, which took place last week -- and its superior 13MP (vs 8MP for the GS3) camera.
That device, however, doesn't ship until April, and who knows when it will reach U.S. carriers.
Microsoft's new ad -- pointedly, done by Microsoft, not Nokia -- targets the low-light performance of Samsung's Galaxy S III camera. The voiceover says, "Say hello to the Nokia Lumia and say goodbye to bad smartphone photos."
Ill-timed or not, Apple has recently also picked on Samsung's 13MP camera, too. On its new marketing page the company touts a number of the iPhone 5's features, including its design, battery life and, indeed, the camera.
It's interesting in Microsoft's case that it chose to target Android -- not iOS -- with its original "Smoked" challenge. It has continued to target Google's mobile device platform, but has chosen Samsung, which has the greatest market share among Android vendors and is the top cell phone -- not just smartphone -- vendor globally, for its current ad.
It seems doubly strange because Samsung sells Windows Phone smartphones as well as Android smartphones. There has, however, been recent conjecture that Samsung is intentionally trying to slowdown Windows Phone, despite its partnership with Microsoft.
Although this is a Microsoft ad campaign, Nokia has adopted a similar strategy, using "the Lumia Challenge" on the streets of London.