Windows Phone 7 failed to halt Microsoft’s decline in smartphone market-share during its first few months of release, according to new data from research firm comScore.
In a new report, comScore suggests Microsoft’s share of the U.S. smartphone platform market dipped 1.7 percent between October 2010 and January 2011, from 9.7 percent to 8.0 percent. That trailed Google, which ended January with 31.2 percent of the market, Research In Motion with 30.4 percent and Apple with 24.7 percent. Microsoft did manage to beat Palm, whose share declined 0.7 percent during that three-month period to 3.2 percent.
Microsoft has seen its smartphone market share decline over the past several quarters, due in large part to fierce competition from Google Android and the Apple iPhone. The increased antiquation and fragmentation of the Windows Mobile platform also contributed to Microsoft’s loss of prominence in the segment.
In an attempt to reverse that erosion, Microsoft released Windows Phone 7 late in 2010. The smartphone platform’s early November rollout in the United States was preceded by a late October launch in Europe. In contrast to Google Android and the Apple iPhone, whose user interfaces largely rely on grid-like pages of individual applications, Windows Phone 7 centers on six subject-specific Hubs that aggregate Web content and applications.
In December, Microsoft told journalists some 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 units had been sold by manufacturers to retailers. By January, that number had apparently risen to 2 million, although the company seemed reluctant to share how many of those devices had ended up in the hands of consumers. In place of that data, Microsoft executives began pointing to research reports suggesting some 93 percent of Windows Phone owners were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their new smartphones.
“Our numbers are similar to the performance of other first-generation mobile platforms,” 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. “It takes time to educate partners and consumers on what you’re delivering, and drive awareness and interest in your new offering. We’re comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run.”
However, the comScore numbers suggest that Windows Phone 7 is doing nothing, at least in the extreme short term, to halt that slide. Without a blockbuster uptick in consumer activations within its first few weeks of general release, Microsoft will most likely have to depend on a long game-similar to the one being played with Bing, which has made incremental gains against search-engine rival Google-in order to gradually make its presence felt in the smartphone arena.
Having launched on GSM-based networks such as AT&T, Microsoft can also look forward to Windows Phone 7’s appearance on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks such as Verizon. That will increase the potential consumer base for the devices. If Microsoft keeps to its update schedule, this week will also see the release of a software update intended to add a cut-and-paste feature and speed application loading.