Microsoft Should Reveal WP7 Sales Figures - InformationWeek

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Mobile // Mobile Devices
04:39 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Microsoft Should Reveal WP7 Sales Figures

Just 674,000 Windows Phone 7 smartphones were sold in the first six weeks, says one analyst. Microsoft needs to give us the real number.

Eldar Murtazin, a blogger and analyst from Russia, believes he's cooked up the number of actual Windows Phone 7 devices that were purchased by real people in the first few months of the platform's life. His guess is 674,000. Here's how he came to this conclusion.

At the end of 2010, Microsoft said it had sold 1.5 million WP7 handsets. That represents the number of devices sold by Microsoft to carriers around the world, not the number of people who actually purchased handsets from those carriers. Microsoft didn't say how many people have bought its phones. By late January, Microsoft raised that initial number to 2 million. The company has been quiet since then.

Murtazin did some channel checking, spoke to some retailers, subtracted out the tens of thousands of handsets that Microsoft gave to its employees, and arrived at 674,000. That's less than half what Microsoft claimed it had sold. Keep in mind, that was in January. Since then, a handful of new WP7 devices have hit the market, including the HTC Arrive on Sprint's network. Murtazin believes this number is pretty bad.

"Failure? Definitely yes," he wrote in a blog post. "Unfortunately, in spite of the ecosystem, developer support, Microsoft could not create a product that would be attractive to the consumer." Microsoft erred, he insists, because it "stumbled on the fact that such solutions [competitive devices] already exist from other companies" and it couldn't match them.

Microsoft hasn't commented on Murtazin's accounting for handset sales, but its partner LG did earlier this year.

"From an industry perspective we had a high expectation, but from a consumer point of view the visibility is less than we expected," said LG marketing director, James Choi. In other words, people don't really see WP7. It has no mindshare outside of tech circles.

Microsoft claims it is going for quality over quantity, that the end-user experience is far more important that churning out buckets of phones. In February, it wrote, "The feedback from our customers has demonstrated we are on the right path. Today, 93% of Windows Phone customers worldwide are delighted with their phones. And perhaps even more importantly, customers are spreading the word. For example, 9 out of 10 people who purchase a Windows Phone tell their friends, family and coworkers that they should buy one too.

"Strong developer, handset maker and mobile operator partnerships coupled with an increased pace of innovation and lower price points will help fuel our growth for the long-term," continued Microsoft, "We've laid the foundation for this with a quality experience we know customers love. This year, our attention turns to bringing that experience to a critical mass of customers so we can we begin to enjoy the economies of scale that will have a long term impact on market share. Now that we have a strong start, it's important for us to accelerate our innovation and deliver it to more customers than ever before."

While blog posts, articles, and analysts guess at how many phones Microsoft has delivered to actual, living beings, Microsoft instead tries to get everyone to focus on something else. It's great to talk up user experience, but Microsoft is well beyond the point where it needs to see some of that critical mass of adoption.

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