WP7: Poor sales?

| May 8, 2011 | 51 Replies

There has been a lot of talk about what OS shipped what amount of units and how well or how bad that particular OS did. Symbian was clearly visible in every chart and so was its declining market share. But where was Windows Phone?

Is it such a failure that it doesn’t even register on analysts radar?

A lot of people certainly would like to see Windows Phone fail, in fact there are several people that already claim Windows Phone has failed. But did it?
If we only look at the numbers available and compare them one to another than WP does appear to have failed. Yet there is more to it than that, let us start by looking at some key figures.

The key figures for Microsoft’s Windows Phone are:

Currently available languages

  • English
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • German
  • French

The potential market could be big, countries that speak one of the above languages are:

  • USA, UK, Scotland, Ireland, Canada
  • Spain, South America sans Brazil
  • Italy
  • Germany, Austria
  • France, Switzerland and certain African countries

Eventhough the countries mentioned above make up a fairly large number of countries only 30 countries had the opportunity to buy a Windows Phone device on a choice of 60 operators. And of those 30 countries only 16! were able to buy apps from the Marketplace. With apps being a major factor for a smartphone OS these days you can imagine that not having Marketplace access is a dealbreaker for a lot of people.

Countries with ability to buy apps in the Marketplace

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Puerto Rico
  • UK
  • USA

Basically only 16 countries have the full Windows Phone experience, a laughable small potential market for WP. Especially if you compare it to the reach Nokia has with Symbian, a reach that ranges most likely to well over a 100 countries, but the Mango update should bump the 16 up to 35, more than doubling the potential market.

Shipped volume

Now that the core numbers for WP are written out we can get down to what it apparantly shipped since it’s launch.
Microsoft reported it had sold 1.5 million handsets to carriers in mid-December, in late January however they reported a total sale of 2 million units to carriers.
So in about a months time Microsoft managed to sell another 500,000 units to carriers. Why would carriers buy another 500,000 units (a full third of the amount bought a month ago) if the OS was a failure?

Two million handsets in the market at the end of January, not in the hands of consumers though. But still, if only 674,000 were sold as said by mr. Murtazin why would there be restocking of units by the carriers? Why would you restock if you didn’t even sell half of what you originally had in stock?
Only one real explanation, carriers sold most of the stock they had and were restocking units.

Indicator: US Market?

Nielsen calculated a market share of 2% for Windows Phone at launch, this grew to 7% and remained at 7% up until Q1 2011. Unfortunatly Nielsen didn’t provide a total smartphone volume for that period so it is hard to determine how many units they are talking about.

There is another research piece by comScore that does provide additional data and it coincides with the 7% from Nielsen. comScore provides a total volume of nearly 70 million smartphone users in the USA. Let’s say that only 2% of the 7% are WP devices and the others are Windows Mobile 6.x devices, even then WP7 still has 1,3 million handsets in the market.

The above is all gathered from various sources so reliability isn’t garantueed however it was calcuted with a decent margin making the 1,3 million WP handsets fairly reasonable and believeable.

Aside from actual research, AT&T’s Jeff Bradley (SVP Mobile Devices) was recently asked by PCMag how things were going with WP on AT&T. Jeff was caught saying that it was doing fine and was on target with their expected goals for WP.
He also mentioned that the release schedule of Microsoft’s OS didn’t allow them to release additional devices in between launch in October and the release of Mango. They probably want to wait for updated specifications that feature next generation CPU’s and the addition of gyroscopes. (apparantly a chassis specification imposed by Microsoft for next-gen devices.)


Windows Phone isn’t shipping an enormous volume (yet?) but it isn’t all doom and gloom as some people lead to believe. The fact of the matter is, is that Windows Phone is a new Operating System that is still in the shallow end of the pool. Just like with Android in the early days, people tend to see what it is from the side, and only that small group of early adopters takes the plunge.
This is however no reason for Microsoft to go slow with their development, they need to be fast about it in this stage of the game and deliver.

Until Windows Phone is available in a comparable market to the  existing bunch of iOS, Android and of course Symbian we can’t say for sure that WP has failed. Still though, it’s a rough road ahead for the young upstart OS, and so it is for Nokia. But two negatives can make a positive, don’t they? 😉

Source 1: TNW
Source 2: comScore
Source 3: WP Central

Editor’s note: All of the above doesn’t imply that Windows Phone is currently a succes, but neither is it the failure as some media outlets are implying. What it does say however is that we need to look at things for what they are and look beyond what’s visible at first glance.

To all the commenters below, please refrain from namecalling etc. Discussing can be done without it, Thanks!


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Category: Nokia, Windows Phone

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