Last week, I posted about a Windows Phone event that would be taking place in Herald Square in NYC today. It was the consumer launch event for Windows Phone 7.5 (aka “Mango”). The Windows Phone team was coy with what they had planned for today, so there wasn’t much to say about it last week. Like so much that the Windows Phone team has done, they tried to keep as much of the hoopla under a veil of secrecy.
It turns out you can’t really keep a secret when you try doing something on one of the busiest tourist & shopping plazas in the world. Word began creeping out over the weekend that something was being built in Herald Square.
So what did they do?
To celebrate the US launch of new Mango devices at AT&T & T-Mobile, the Windows Phone team built a BIG Windows Phone in the middle of the square. How big? About 60 feet tall! Okay… now that’s not something you see everyday. Check out this time lapse video of the phone being built over the weekend:
I just got back from spending most of the day at Herald Square. When I first arrived just before noon, it looked like a giant electronic with a countdown clock and an emulation of the Windows Phone home screen. As the countdown clock reached zero at noon, the BIG Windows Phone came to life, and it turned out to be much more than an electronic billboard!
The portions of the screen that made up the tiles rotated open to reveal different stages with live actors performing! Different acts would appear behind different tiles like on Hollywood Squares! The live action taking place on each stage would be broadcast on one of the “double-wide” tiles above it for the crowd to see. Definitely a cool effect.
One of the slogans of the phone has been to put people front and center. With this BIG phone, that’s exactly what they did via different live performances throughout the day.
The first tile that opened revealed what appeared to be a male and female staff member working on the phone. The guy then got down on his knees and proposed to what was apparently his girlfriend! Shocked girl cried and said yes as other “people” sprang to life from the other tiles bringing in flowers and cheers!
The performers then acted out various features on the phone. For example, an emcee said he wanted pizza. The TellMe voice service did a search on Bing to locate Ray’s Famous pizza. Next thing you know, a bunch of delivery people appeared on the square with free pizza for everyone who was in the crowd!
There were also live music performances by the band Far East Movement as well as some live action video games.
Plants & Zombies (as in the well known mobile game) appeared on one of the tile stages, then made their way down into the crowd with a zombie attack. The plants did their best to fend the zombies of. Later, a double-wide tile opened to reveal a real Fruit Ninja! The Fruit Ninja sliced and diced MANGOES that were thrown at him from an assistant with a sword.
Of course, there was a phone pavilion set up where folks could come by and get some hands-on time with all of the different Windows Phone devices that are now on sale. It was my first chance seeing the new Samsung Focus S, which is the “new version” of the phone I currently own, the Samsung Focus. My podcast co-host, Dmitry Lyalin, was there sporting his new Focus S (as seen here on the right).
I also got a chance to check out the new HTC Radar from T-Mobile. That’s the white phone with a uni-body enclosure. It looks like a slicker, more modern version of the HTC Trophy currently at Verizon.
It was a fun time in Herald Square today. Marketing stunts are usually silly, and to a degree, this was too. But I thought the BIG Windows Phone that came to life with “tile stages” was a neat idea. If you haven’t tried out a Windows Phone yet, now is the time!
Here’s a link to all of the pictures I took today on SkyDrive.
Update 11-11-2011: Check this video re-cap of the entire day on the Windows Phone Facebook page.