Microsoft's Windows Phone and Windows Mobile share dipped in the third quarter, according to Nielsen.
Microsoft owned 7.3 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in
the third quarter, according to new data from Nielsen.
The research firm includes both Windows Phone and the older,
largely discontinued Windows Mobile in its tally. That number trails RIM/BlackBerry
at 17.8 percent, Apple's iPhone at 28.3 percent, and Google Android at 42.8
percent. Interestingly, the accompanying graph breaks Microsoft's share into
two separate columns, "Windows Mobile/WP7" and "Windows Phone," with further
breakdowns by manufacturer; presumably, that division is due to Nielsen's
Earlier this year, the firm placed Microsoft's share of the
market at 9 percent, trailing Android at 39 percent, Apple's iPhone at 28
percent, and Research In Motion's BlackBerry at 20 percent. Microsoft routinely
refuses to release any hard data relating to smartphone sales, leaving it up to
third parties like Nielsen to offer their own numbers-and even then, the
continuing presence of Windows Mobile clouds the ability to tally Windows
During a July 11 keynote speech at Microsoft's Worldwide
Partner Conference, CEO Steve Ballmer described Windows Phone's market share as
"very small," while insisting that other metrics (such as consumer
satisfaction) boded well for the platform overall.
That Windows Phone faces a hard slog in the face of
substantial competition isn't exactly a groundbreaking revelation. The bigger
question is whether a host of next-generation devices, and deepened alliances
with companies like Nokia and Samsung, will ease those difficulties and
increase Windows Phone's presence among consumers and businesses.
However, some analysts remain doubtful about Microsoft's
prospects, particularly with regard to its high-profile Nokia partnership.
"With no breakthrough innovation, we believe Nokia's new
phones are unlikely to get traction in a highly concentrated high end," James
Faucette, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, wrote in a research note
quoted by The New York Times Nov.
22. With that in mind, he set Nokia Windows Phone sales for the quarter to
500,000 units, down from his previous projection of 2
Nokia's latest Windows Phone devices, the Lumia 710 and 800,
are both handsomely constructed. The Lumia 710 is priced as more of a midmarket
phone, at the equivalent of $376, while the Lumia 800 targets the higher end at
$584. That certainly makes them more expensive than many midrange Android
devices on the market, although carrier subsidies and other incentives will
presumably lower that buy-in cost.
That being said, there are also signs that Windows Phone is
gaining traction. According to Appcelerator and research firm IDF, which
surveyed 2,160 Appcelerator Titanium developers earlier in November, Windows
Phone has eclipsed RIM's BlackBerry OS as a subject of interest-making it the
third mobile OS behind Apple's iOS and Google Android.
"Microsoft is enjoying symbiotic success with Nokia, read
of that report. "When asked why developers are more interested in Windows
Phone 7 now than a year ago, a plurality (48 percent) said it was the
But most of all, Microsoft needs to demonstrate that its
software-and phones by Nokia and other partners-can interest those it needs
most: paying customers.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.