Microsoft claims manufacturers sold 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 devices in six weeks, but actual customer sales remain a question.
Microsoft is claiming sales of 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 smartphones in
the platform's first six weeks of release, reversing the company's previous
reluctance to discuss anything numbers-related. However, the number of devices
actually sold to customers remains unclear.
Microsoft hopes that strong Windows Phone 7 sales will allow it to reverse
several quarters' worth of market share declines in smartphones, where it faces
fierce competition from the likes of Google Android and the Apple iPhone. In
contrast to those rival devices, which offer gridlike screens of individual
apps, Windows Phone 7 presents six subject-specific "Hubs" that
aggregate Web content and applications.
"We are pleased that phone manufacturers sold over 1.5 million phones
in the first six weeks," Achim Berg, Microsoft's vice president of
business and marketing for Windows Phones, mentioned
in a Q&A posted Dec. 21 on the company's corporate Website
helps build customer momentum and retail presence." Those numbers
apparently meet the company's internal expectations.
But those numbers also represent sales from manufacturers to mobile
operators and retailers, not customers. Earlier in December, Joe Belfiore,
Microsoft's corporate vice president and director of Windows Phone Program
Management, declined to offer any hard data on Windows Phone 7 sales during the
D: Dive Into Mobile conference; that reluctance, combined with TheStreet.com's
November report that 40,000 Windows Phone 7 devices sold on Nov. 8, the
platform's first day of U.S. availability, had led some pundits to assume the
worst in terms of marketplace performance. By contrast, both Apple and Google
claim hundreds of thousands of activations per day for their respective
In his interview, Berg also repeated Microsoft's refrain about Windows Phone
7 being a long-term proposition for the company. "We started fresh with
Windows Phone 7, and it's a different kind of phone," he said. "Measuring
for success is more long term than short term. We launched with many of the top
mobile operators in the world, and even more in the coming year in 2011."
Analysts seem to agree that Windows Phone 7 has a long-and possibly very
tough-fight before it.
"Not all the stars are aligning for the Microsoft operating system the
way it did for [Google] Android," Ross Rubin, the NPD Group's executive
director for industry analysis, wrote
in a Nov. 30 posting on the research firm's corporate blog
whereas Verizon had a paucity of touch-screen smartphones prior to the Droid,
AT&T and T-Mobile are flush with them." Windows Phone 7 appeared first
in the United States
on both those carriers, who also carry competing devices with a proven track
"On the other hand, the devices at those carriers offer clear
alternatives to the incumbents," Rubin added. "All of the Windows
phones at AT&T pack something the iPhone lacks, and the HD7's screen looms
large above others in T-Mobile's portfolio."
Other analysts see Windows Phone 7's growth as decidedly healthy. "We
can say that for a company that just a few months ago was an also-ran in
mobile, having 10 smartphones released in 30 countries is not a trivial
achievement," Al Hilwa, an analyst with research firm IDC,
wrote in a Dec. 19 research note. "I would not be surprised if Microsoft
had the third-largest app portfolio in the industry by the middle of next year."