Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer remains upbeat about Windows Phone, despite suggestions of weak market share numbers by outside analysts.
Microsoft is putting a brave face on
the marketplace prospects of Windows Phone.
During a July 11 keynote speech at
the company's Worldwide Partner Conference, in Los Angeles, CEO Steve Ballmer
described Windows Phone's market presence as "very small." Nonetheless, he went
on to insist that other metrics boded well for the smartphone platform, which
Microsoft is counting on to counter the competitive threat posed by the likes
of Google Android, Apple's iPhone, and Research In Motion's BlackBerry
Ballmer seemed far more willing to
talk other Windows Phone metrics. "Nine out of 10 people who bought Windows
Phone would absolutely recommend it to a friend," he said, reiterating a
talking point voiced by many a Microsoft executive over the past few months.
"People in the phone business believe in us."
He also referred to Microsoft's deal
with Nokia, which will see Windows Phone ported onto the latter's devices.
"Nokia could have bet on themselves, bet on Android or bet on Windows Phone,"
he said, suggesting that the Finnish manufacturer went with Microsoft after
"they saw our roadmaps and saw what we did."
Lastly, he cited recent reports from
research firms IDC and Gartner, which suggest that Microsoft will eventually
claw its way past RIM and Apple by 2015. "We know we've got a lot to do," he said.
"We're all in when it comes to mobile devices."
Nonetheless, recent reports suggest
Microsoft's smartphone market share is trending in the wrong direction.
For the three-month period between
the end of February and the end of May, comScore estimated Microsoft's U.S.
share dipping from 7.7 percent to 5.8 percent. If accurate, this comes despite
the marketing push behind the Windows Phone platform.
During the same period, adoption of
Google's Android platform rose from 33 percent to 38.1 percent, while Apple
enjoyed a slight uptick from 25.2 percent to 26.6 percent. Research In Motion
continued its market slide, declining from 28.9 percent to 24.7 percent.
Despite the softness in Windows
Phone's share, Microsoft is actively seeking another way to profit off the
smartphone market: extracting royalties from Android device manufacturers.
According to a July 6 Reuters report
, Microsoft is demanding that Samsung pay $15 in royalties
for every Android-based smartphone the latter produces.
Microsoft insists that the Android
platform infringes on a number of its patents, and has used its considerable
legal resources to pursue manufacturers of Android smartphones and tablets.
Some of those manufacturers, including HTC, have agreed to pay Microsoft
royalties. Over the past 10 days, Microsoft has entered into a series of
patent-licensing agreements with four other Android device manufacturers,
including Wistron Corp, Onkyo Corporation, Velocity Micro and General Dynamics
In the meantime, Microsoft can only
hope that its upcoming Windows Phone "Mango" update will increase the
platform's appeal to both consumers and businesspeople. As Microsoft executives
demonstrated for a small group of media and analysts during a May press event
in New York City, Mango's new features include a redesigned Xbox Live Hub,
home-screen tiles capable of displaying up-to-the-minute information, the
ability to consolidate friends and colleagues into groups, and visual
voicemail- supposedly more than 500 new elements in all.
Mango is due for release sometime
this fall. Samsung, HTC, LG Electronics and Nokia have all committed to
building new Windows Phone devices preloaded with Mango. Meanwhile, Acer,
Fujitsu and ZTE have apparently agreed to produce Windows Phone units for the
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