Microsoft may have sold some 1.4 million Windows Phone units in the platform's first year of release, according to analyst Horace Dediu.
Compare that to the 1.723 million smartphones that research firm Gartner estimates Microsoft sold in 2011 (a number that includes both Windows Phone and the now-antiquated Windows Mobile). Moreover, Dediu feels that Microsoft has taken the wrong approach to marketing Windows Phone.
"The dependence on a complex value network means that products do not reach users quickly enough and when they do the marketing message is weak, even when backed by large budgets," he wrote in an Oct. 12 posting on his Asymco Website. "The real problem with Microsoft's approach is that it's neither viral like Android (because it has a price and a contract associated with it) nor is it focused and agile like Apple's."
In other words, he added, "it seems to suffer from the worst aspects of modularity (market lag) without benefitting from the control over the ecosystem and end user experience that differentiates it."
Although it's declined to release exact sales figures, Microsoft nonetheless acknowledges Windows Phone's soft market performance. "It was under a year ago that we launched the first Windows Phone," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told an audience of media and executives at this year's financial analyst meeting. "We haven't sold quite as many probably as I would have hoped in the first year."
Nonetheless, Microsoft is gearing up for a significant Windows Phone push in months ahead, starting with the Sept. 27 release of its wide-ranging "Mango" update. The company hopes that Mango's 500 new tweaks and features could give the platform the momentum it needs with consumers to more effectively combat Apple's iOS and Google Android. Apple's latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S, racked up a million preorders in its first 24 hours of availability.
In addition, Microsoft has signed significant deals with companies such as Nokia to produce a wide variety of Windows Phone Mango devices. Other partners include Samsung, HTC, LG Electronics, Acer and ZTE, all of which will likely obey Microsoft's minimum hardware requirements while giving their own unique spins on their respective smartphones. Dual-core and LTE devices are supposedly in the pipeline.
In an Oct. 11 interview with The Seattle Times, Windows Phone division President Andy Lees knocked Android, which he predicted would enter a "chaotic phase" of increased fragmentation across multiple platforms. "If you've used some of the (Android) phones, some of them are great, but some of them are not great," he told the newspaper. "But it's random."