Are Windows Phone 7 devices a hit with consumers?
The jury’s still out.
Within a day of the new smartphone platform’s Nov. 8 release, reports indicated a high level of interest for devices offered through AT&T and T-Mobile. “We did have lines in some of our markets across the nation,” an AT&T spokesperson reportedly told the Seattle Times. “There definitely was anticipation for the phone.”
AT&T is offering the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround for $199 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile’s first Windows Phone 7 device, the HTC HD7, retails for the same price with a data-plan.
For a brief time, the HTC HD7 appeared to be sold out on T-Mobile’s Website. By Nov. 9, however, the smartphone was apparently available again. Amazon.com listed it as “In Stock,” with a shipment time of 1-3 weeks.
A number of Twitterites used the hashtag “#wp7” to describe device sellouts at local AT&T and T-Mobile stores. “Got lucky and snagged a Samsung Focus this morning before it sold out,” one Tweeted. “Was too late at the MS store, but AT&T had 1 left. I need it!” Stores in Knoxville and Raleigh allegedly had their supply stripped.
Other Tweets were less upbeat about the sales situation. “Telstra store mgr tells me they sold 80 units of #wp7 first day but hasn’t seen much action since,” Scott Barnes, who describes himself as a former Microsoft product manager, wrote on his Twitter feed.
At an AT&T store in midtown Manhattan, the two Windows Phone 7 devices were definitely still in stock. “It’s only the second day of sales,” a store representative told eWEEK. Despite Microsoft’s multimillion-dollar marketing push, AT&T stores’ promotional materials seemed minimal at some New York City locations; the same midtown store had two Windows Phone 7 devices placed inconspicuously along its device display wall. At an AT&T retailer in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the sole Microsoft advertising presence seemed to be a small Windows Phone 7 sticker in the front window.
In San Francisco, CNET’s Ina Fried and Josh Lowensohn reported lines at a local AT&T store-for tickets to a free Microsoft-sponsored concert headlined by Maroon 5. Somewhat fewer people were apparently interested in purchasing a Windows Phone 7 device.
Windows Phone 7 is available first on GSM-based networks, such as AT&T and T-Mobile, before moving onto Verizon in early 2011. Microsoft has continually declined to place a price-tag on its massive marketing campaign, which one analyst estimates at close to $400 million.
Early reports indicated that Windows Phone 7 was selling well internationally, with DigiTimes reporting in a Nov. 3 article that sales of HTC-built Windows Phone 7 smartphones were “better than expected” in Europe and Australia.
“Early supporters of the new operating system, such as South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, are also experiencing rising demand from carriers,” the article added, sourcing its information as unnamed “Taiwan-based handset makers.”
Microsoft hopes that Windows Phone 7’s unique interface-which centers on six subject-specific “Hubs,” such as “People” and “Games”-will pull users who would otherwise gravitate towards the Apple iPhone or Google Android. Each of Windows Phone 7’s Hubs aggregate Web content and applications in streamlined ways, in contrast to the rivals’ focus on grid-like screens of individual apps.