Interview with Ben Rudolph, the Architect of #smokedbywindowsphone
By on January 18th, 2012

Smoked by Windows Phone

If you use Twitter and were following the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) tweets, it would be very hard for you to miss the #smokedbywindowsphone campaign, run by Ben Rudolph from Microsoft. I wrote about this campaign which pitted Windows Phone against a variety of today’s smartphones in conducting common tasks, in an earlier post. This campaign has been a super hit, and now that Ben has had some time to recover from CES, I asked him a few questions about the campaign. Here’s what he had to say:

Techie Buzz (TB): What was the motivation behind the campaign?

Ben Rudolph (BR): Everyone here on the Windows Phone team knew anecdotally, from talking with friends and family, and even strangers at airports, that Windows Phone is faster and easier than any other smartphone at doing the stuff that we do every day on our smartphones. We never went out to prove it in a head-to-head test. So, we decided to put our money where our mouth is at the biggest tech show in the world! What better place to put Windows Phone head to head against a huge variety of smartphone users, both in terms of their technical depth, but also in terms of the phones they have in their pocket. All in all, this was a fun way for us to stand up and say “We think we built something really awesome, and when you see it, we think you’ll agree”.

TB: What were the challenges like?

BR: All of the challenges involved tasks that smartphone users do every day – posting a photo to Facebook or Twitter, checking the weather, sending an SMS to your best friend, updating your status on your social networks, finding someplace nearby to eat – that kind of stuff.

Another person smoked by Windows Phone

TB: Some skeptics were telling me as they were looking on, that you would of course choose tasks catered to making Windows Phone win. How were the challenges assigned?

BR: Before we started the challenge I talked to each competitor about the phone in their pocket and what they like to do on their phone. From there, we mutually agreed on a challenge. I felt like that was the only fair way to do this – if we just accosted people and said “Hey you, with the iPhone! I bet I can do (BLANK) before you can!” it would seem unfair and forced. By giving them a choice on where they wanted to compete, we were able to show them that Windows Phone is relevant to their life, and can help them stay connected to the people and stuff they care about faster and easier.

I have to say, everyone who competed was a really good sport. I didn’t have anyone at the challenge win or lose ungraciously, which made it a lot of fun.

My phone got smoked by Windows Phone

TB: Can you summarize of the challenge?

BR: Overall the challenge went really, really well– we posted a record of 30 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw. That’s an 88% win percentage. Windows Phone beat a ton of phones, including the iPhone 4 and 4s, Droid Charge, Droid Bionic, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II, and more, across all challenges. We did lose three times as I noted above, once each to an iPhone 4s and Galaxy Nexus in posting a photo to Twitter (just by a hair), and once to a Droid Bionic in sending an SMS to a loved one, also by less than a second.

Ed: One of those losses was to Techie Buzz’s very own Parth Dhebar, who used his iPhone 4s to take a picture and send it to twitter just a hair quicker than Ben. :-)

TB: There have been a lot of tweets/comments about making this into a commercial. Any thoughts?

BR: I’m still recovering from Vegas, so I haven’t even really thought about it! What I can tell you is that there’s a lot of buzz about the Challenge, both internally and externally. I’m just happy that we were able to do something that helped show real people all over the world how fun and useful Windows Phone is.

TB: How many challengers told you they would actually consider switching to Windows Phone?

BR: We handed out about 20 phones at CES to people who saw the challenge and wanted to switch to Windows Phone. And I’ve heard from several dozen people saying they’re switching, or are planning on checking our Windows Phone when they’re due for an upgrade, on Twitter. It’s really great to hear those kind of personal stories…it shows me that people are really making a connection with Windows Phone.

There you have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth. If there is one thing we can be sure of, given Ben’s track record, is that there will be more such campaigns coming from him (and Microsoft). As I have said before, Windows Phone is a truly awesome OS, and the more “regular folks” see it in person, the better it is for the platform. Such campaigns highlight precisely that, and I cannot wait to see what comes next from Ben and his crew!

Note: All pictures here, courtesy Ben. Thanks!

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Author: Romit Mehta Google Profile for Romit Mehta
Romit writes about mobile news and gadgets, and is currently a Windows Phone owner (Nokia Lumia 920). Find him on twitter @TheRomit. Personal site is

Romit Mehta has written and can be contacted at

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