Microsoft mobile device partners shipped 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 units to carriers during the first six weeks of its availability, according to Microsoft officials. At first glance, that might not seem like a figure to scoff at. After all, there are few products in the tech space that gain that level of popularity.
But a closer inspection of the numbers shows why these early results are not as impressive as they look. For one, it doesn’t represent actual sales to consumers and enterprise customers. Moreover, it’s estimated that 300,000 Google Android phones are being activated each and every day. That means that in just five days, it can match a figure Microsoft took six weeks to reach.
Simply put, Windows Phone 7 can’t compete. And here’s why:
1. The sales aren’t impressive
First and foremost, Windows Phone 7 sales just aren’t all that impressive. Yes, Microsoft might be happy to see 1.5 million devices shipped to carriers, but its excitement seems rather premature. As noted, 300,000 Android phones are activated by customers each day. Until Microsoft can even come close to that figure, it will have extreme difficulty gaining ground on Google or Apple.
2. Windows Mobile ruined everything
An important reason for Windows Phone 7’s inability to compete is its predecessor. As soon as Apple offered up the iPhone and Google came out with Android, it became clear that Microsoft didn’t have a single competitor that mattered. Windows Mobile looked old, and consumers and enterprise customers forgot about it. As the software company’s sales figures show now, it’s having trouble overcoming the disappointment consumers felt from its old OS.
3. Android is more readily available
Over time, it is possible that Microsoft might be able to build up Windows Phone 7’s momentum. However, that is extremely unlikely unless it can find a way to achieve the same level of ubiquity that Android enjoys in the mobile market. Right now, several Android devices are available on all major carriers. Consumers have nothing but options, and they appreciate that. Windows Phone 7 handset options are limited, to say the least.
4. There isn’t an iPhone competitor
Speaking of those options, it’s important to point out that, at least so far, there isn’t a single Windows Phone 7-based device that can compete on any level with Apple’s iPhone. That’s a significant problem for Microsoft. The iPhone sets the standard by which all other smartphones are judged. Until Microsoft’s vendor partners can come up with something that comes even close to the iPhone’s features, Windows Phone 7 will have a hard time appealing to consumers.
Microsoft Needs to Keep Improving Windows Phone 7
The corporate world could potentially be one sanctuary where Microsoft could be successful. That would be the case, of course, if Microsoft could find a way to target that market more effectively. For now, with Xbox Live and its consumer-y feel, Windows Phone 7 doesn’t seem to be focused too heavily on the corporate world. That’s another factor hurting the operating system’s ability to compete.
6. The feature set isn’t there
As of this writing, Windows Phone 7 lacks full multitasking for all apps. Consumers can’t copy and paste, and from a design perspective there are some serious quirks that need to be worked out. Simply put, the feature set in Windows Phone 7 isn’t as impressive as it could be. If Microsoft doesn’t address that sooner rather than later, it could have even more trouble on its hands.
7. Figuring out vendor desire
As a software provider, Microsoft must rely upon vendors to deliver its product to customers. In the distant past, that wasn’t such a major issue, since the operating system was one of the better options in the space. But with Google’s Android platform selling so well, vendors are realizing that aligning with the search giant might actually be the best option. That makes it harder for Microsoft and its mobile platform to compete.
8. Apps, Apps, Apps
Microsoft fully realizes the value of mobile apps in today’s marketplace. But so far, the company’s app store has approximately 4,000 apps available to users. Given how long Windows Phone 7 has been out, that might not be so bad. But when it’s compared with Apple’s App Store offering of over 300,000 apps, and the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Android Market programs, it quickly becomes clear that Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do.
9. Microsoft’s brand value
Microsoft isn’t the company that it once was. Although it’s still a household name among consumers and enterprise customers, it no longer has quite the sterling brand value as Google and Apple these days. As it stands, those two companies are appealing more to consumers than ever before. And it’s Microsoft that continues to play catch up. That’s a significant problem for the software giant. As its brand value declines, it will need to find better ways to appeal to customers-or else.
10. Where’s the sales pitch?
Whether it’s Google, Apple or Microsoft, every company needs to make a compelling sales pitch to customers. Google has done that by proving it can deliver a viable iOS alternative on several carriers. Apple has made its case by pushing the envelope. But what has Microsoft done? At least for now, the company has seemingly done little to make it clear to consumers why its product is better than the others. The longer it takes to present a compelling alternative, the harder it will be for it to come close to competing.