Microsoft’s Windows Phone Leader Joe Belfiore has unintentionally generated some drama over the week-end as he sent a Tweet from an Android smartphone on his way from Finland back to the USA. He was tweeting about a budget Nokia phone he just played with, and said “Put simply, this is the best budget smartphone we’ve ever tested. I just brought one back from Espoo!” The thing is, there was a little “Twitter for Android” header that could be seen by the whole world.Not surprisingly, there were some immediate criticism or sarcasm, to which Joe Belfiore replied that yes he’s actually using the competition’s products to see what he goes against. ” I have a Mac & iPad too. I think u WANT me using em!” he adds.

I think that this is a good thing when those who build products look around them to see what’s good outside their own bubble. In fact, that should be part of their job to constantly evaluate what the competition is doing. Intel’s co-founder Andy Groove said “only the paranoid survive” and that’s particularly true in a competitive place like the smartphone market.

Of course, it’s easy for Android fans to gloat, given that Android is so successful at grabbing market share, but it may be wise not to underestimate Microsoft. Console makers were laughing at the idea of an Xbox back in the days… and they’re not laughing so much today. This is a very dynamic market with a very fast refresh cycle. Anything can happen in the medium term.

Do you think that every product design team should use the competition’s product to see what they are about, or is that a sign of weakness as some would put it?

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