Windows Phone

Solid start: Windows Phone 7 has decent sales and a load of apps

Windows Phone 7 remains a distant underdog in the brutally-competitive smartphone arena, but a couple new reports this week show that Microsoft's latest foray into mobile has not been a total flop.

Windows Phone 7 remains a distant underdog in the brutally-competitive smartphone arena, but a couple new reports this week show that Microsoft's latest foray into mobile has not been the total flop that many (including me) were expecting.

On Monday, Microsoft revealed that Windows Phone 7 has sold 1.5 million units in its first six weeks. Also on Monday, IDC reported that the Windows Phone 7 app store has reached the 4,000 app mark and is growing at a faster rate than Android was at the same point in time.

These two developments will take some of the heat off of Microsoft, which has come under fire in recent weeks for its silence about Windows Phone 7 sales figures. Most analysts and journalists have assumed that "no news is bad news" because if the sales figures were good than Microsoft would have wanted to brag about it. However, it's also important to keep in mind that the 1.5 million phones Microsoft reported represents the number of phones that hardware makers sold to telecom carriers and not the number of phones that people have purchased, so the the number is a little inflated.

Nevertheless, the carriers tightly control their inventories so unless we hear about a bunch of Windows Phone 7 devices languishing on the shelves and getting mailed back to the hardware makers than these numbers look pretty solid. It's not a raging success, but it's also not a stinging belly flop, which is what Microsoft needed to avoid.

As for the apps, 4,000 is a decent start. Leading up to the launch of Windows Phone 7 in October, I had repeatedly been hearing that Microsoft was putting the full court press on its registered developers and software partners about building apps for Windows Phone 7. There have even been rumors that Microsoft has been offering some significant "incentives" to some software developers to get on board with WP7.

Still, comparing the Windows Phone 7 app catalog to Android at the same point in its development is not all that useful. Android didn't really get cooking until the fall of 2009 -- a year after its debut -- when the Motorola Droid was first released and then was quickly followed by a string of other hit phones on multiple carriers, which drove lots of developer interest in the platform.

Windows Phone 7 has definitely benefited from low expectations, since its predecessor Windows Mobile was such a terrible software experience and Microsoft has been repeatedly unsuccessful in the mobile space. As I reported in my review of the Samsung Focus, my first impressions of Windows Phone 7 were much better than I expected. In many ways, it's more polished than Android, but it's still missing too many key features to truly be competitive with Android and iPhone.

Microsoft still has a lot of work to do with WP7, but it's done enough to remain in the game at this point.

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About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

24 comments
jimtravis
jimtravis

Was a big fan of the Classic Windows Mobile because out of the box it did more of the tasks I needed than competing platforms. I also disagree with you comment about software experiences. Since I favored the 4" devices, rarely used a stylus, and customized the today screen for my needs, and minimum input. From a stability pov, I reset my iPhone 4, various touches, Android devices, and WP7 more often than any of the dozen or so Classic WM PDA's / smartphones I owned over the years. Although disappointed that MS threw the power users under the bus, I did buy a HD7 since I am a gadget enthusiast / geek / addict. The Metro UI is indeed smooth, and slick. Unfortunately for me, there are still too many missing features (user access to file system #1), and missing critical apps for this device to be my daily driver. From a stability pov, it is not as stable as my old WM devices. In the month and a half I have owned it, I have needed to remove battery twice because it froze, and nothing else worked. In over 8 years using about a dozen Classic WM devices, I believe I had to remove the battery due to system freezes twice as well. Let's see - twice in 8 years with a dozen devices, vs. twice in 1 1/2 months with one lightly used device? I have also experienced a delay for a few seconds when unlocking the screen after the unit has sat overnight. I have called T-Mobile, but no solution. I will try contacting MS direct. My initial problems aside, I do still believe MS has the opportunity to return to major player status in the mobile arena if they issue frequent updates, listen to early adopters, and return the power user features. I switched to Android about 6 months ago when MS abandoned the power user, and it will take quite a bit to get me back in the MS mobile fold. Still like Windows on the desktop / laptop, but they ceased being my favorite mobile platform when they abandoned the power users. I do wish MS luck because increased competition in the mobile arena benefits us.

levilan
levilan

Out of the 1.5mil "sold", customers bought about 750,000. Out of these, Microsoft "bought" 90,000 for it's employees, DELL bought 30,000 (replacing RIM). So, we are left with 630,000 in 6 weeks, or, 15,000 per day, which is 5% of daily , 300,000 Android/Iphone sales. Now, WP7 comes to Verizon, but so does the iPhone LTE/CDMA. Predictions are the Verizon will sell 8 Million iPhones in 2011, but only 150,000 WP7.

QAonCall
QAonCall

You wrote it as if it was predicted by Gartner or soemone, if so, pelase reference it. If not, and it is your prediction, please sate as well. Thanks

lkarnis
lkarnis

If WP7 phones are doing so well, why aren't they featured prominently in most stores? When you walk in to most cell stores, you see Android phones or iPhones. You have to look around to find the WP7 phones. Guess which phone is most likely to have a 2-4-1 (or some such) deal going on it? Oh, and talk to stores about customer return rates. The ones I talk to tell me that the return rates for WP7 are very high. The last thing I want is M$ doing for my phone what they did to my PC. They can keep their phones.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

Anyone who uses the acronym "M$" is a fanboy idiot that needs to be ignored.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Anyone who uses the word "fanboy" is a fanboy that needs to be ignored. Apply ad infinitum.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

As I mentioned elsewhere here, businesses generally take 3-6 months to complete the movile sales cycle. Those are also numbers that your local retailer would never see as the devices are most often not available in retail outlets, most people haven't even heard of teh device manufacturers before. Win7 will make headway through distribution channels that cater to enterprise verticals, such as medical, oil and gas, forestry etc. How many HHP phones have you used or seen in yoru local retail outlet? Janam? symbol? Intermec? Many Enterprises are still using the PALM OS to fill the void or Win Mobile 605 Professional. Once they BEGIN incorporating WP7, which may take some time yet, there will be huge adoption from the business marketplace. Rugged manufacturers sell hundreds of thousands of units in enterprise markets that have steered clear of iphone and Android devices that just can't stand up to the environment or provide the sevurity and flexibility needed for mobile computing. I'd like to see what happens to an iPhone that is washed off with a caustic cleaner in a surgery or dropped from sscaffolding on a building site or even a warehouse floor. "cleanup in aisle 6" Those devices don't pass the most basic industry standards for being i-safe, impact resistant etc. but the companies that DO use such devices are still on Win Mobile or Palm platforms and will gobble up WP7, well by gobble up I mean start the 4-6 month sales process anyway, after the manufacturers start using it. It usually takes teh manufacturer at east a year to get the OS into a device once released. It's a bitch of a market to sell to, don't expect to see dollars right away as it takes a long time to sign the deals but they should make headway a year in.

jdr_03
jdr_03

Another person commenting on the failure of the phone without using one... First off, Apple has made their computers cost 3x the amount of anyone else, so they can keep their iPhone. Android is a good product, and the Android phones are only getting better. As for WP7 phones, they are currently only being sold by a few amount of the carriers. I don't know what the 2-4-1 comment was mean to imply (Androids are being offered for free, and WP7 phones have a bogo offer, so I am confused about what you meant?). Anyway, WP7 looks to be solid, and when Sprint gets one I will most likely get one... Of course, whether I return it or not is still up in the air! ;) WP7 bogo: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/cmpn/buy-one-get-one.aspx

reggaethecat
reggaethecat

Firstly I don't like the way the interface looks. Plus having your phone boot into Windows just makes me shudder. I think Windows Phone is too much of a 'me too' product to be a proper success. Most people who've had Windows Mobile will avoid it like the plague, I can't see ANY iPhone users wanting to switch, and you get a much better choice with Android. So ultimately I personally believe it will be a minor player with maybe 10% to 20% market share, which for a company of Microsoft's stature will be seen as a failure.

jdr_03
jdr_03

Um, I think you typed Android wrong in this sentence: "I think Windows Phone is too much of a 'me too' product to be a proper success." Android and iPhone look very similar, WP7 looks unique compared to any other smartphone OS out there. I am not saying it is a great product (haven't used one) but to say it is a "me too" product is just a way to say, "I like fewer choices, and smartphones should only come in App-centric flavors."

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

then when you consider that Windows had a phone OS out out longer than Apple too, it's hardly a 'me too' experience at all. I've sold business mobile for some years now and, while businesses have avoided iPhone like the plague, they are more apt to adopt a new Windows Mobile flavour. Rugged device manufacturers, who really cater to enterprise only and not the average user on the street, will see great sales with WP7. Companies like Janam, Motorola/Symbol, Intermev, HHP etc will see a lot more business now as their users have been holding firm with WMx for a long time, this will create an enterprise upgrade path that will see a lot of new devices go out. When you consider the 3-6 month sales cycle of businesses adopting such devices, one can't expect business numbers to even show up this early in the game.

Nsaf
Nsaf

who are you people with such uneducated predictions?????

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

WinPhone7 appears to be getting a good start, if you ask me. It's late to the game, true, but it has some advantages over both Android and iOS of which it can really take advantage. As consumers get used to the new concept and as the enterprise gets a feel for how well it adapts to their Windows-based environments, I could see WP7 starting to pull people away from Android and back to a more stable and reliable system.

OYAB
OYAB

I think it's brilliant that we have a phone that can do what WP7 does. I currently have a Hero and I can't get past update 2.1, lol... As soon as Sprint gets it I'm on board. I have played with the Focus at the AT&T store and was amazed...

gunnarzdad
gunnarzdad

Since this phone is Microsoft based it has a big chance, I would imagine, of making a larger break into the business market than the consumer market. If Microsoft built WP7 to integrate well with existing enterprise infrastructure - most of which uses Microsoft products, I think we could see this take the place of Blackberry as the enterprise smartphone of choice. Then it's likely to grow out from there. If I was part of this project at Microsoft I would spend time getting businesses on board to replace their Blackberrys.

QnA
QnA

I just would like to add something to the 1,5 million shipped numbers. It is a pretty solid number in my opinion because MS hasn't rolled out the Zune and XBOX services outside the US yet. The marketplace is also for US citizens only (maybe the UK too?). Devices are on sale in Europe, but they are either sold out due to the few devices shipped to some countries. But many large retailers do not even sell any WP7 devices yet until MS launches it in the country they are operating in. So 1,5 mil is very good. I expect good sales in Asia, especially Korea because of the XBOX app.

Justin James
Justin James

Anything is better than Android, and I can't bring myself to buy into the iPhone ecosystem. From using the emulator doing the development, it's a very, very usable OS. The look/feel is a "one man's trash is another man's treasure" thing, but if you can look past the bland squares, it is nice how few gestures it takes to get stuff done. While from the development end I dislike how many crucial things can't be done via a program (send SMS, react to incoming calls, make a call, directly access the camera, multitasking, etc.), the fact is, it is PRECISELY that functionality which makes Android such a buggy piece of junk. Now that my mother and sister have moved in with me, I now have 4 Android phones in my house (2 Droid 1s, 1 HTC Droid Eris, 1 LG Ally) and every person using one HATES it due to the bugginess. J.Ja

QAonCall
QAonCall

I have asked in the past that Jason do a follow up on his intitial reviews, since it appears that some phones, as other computers, tend to lose some utility and performance. I am not sure if it is truly a phenomenon or if this is just the user becoming accustomed to the 'system'. My experience with android has been mostly positive, and my son and gf both love theirs. I am on sprint, and they on verizon. All HTC hardware. My observations lead me to believe that the market has to do a better job of forcing applications to notify you when they will: 1) Start automatically on a restart 2) Change any settings when they update 3) Allow updates only by user action 4) Allow rollback I know android allows use to manage all these things, however, the fact that one of the most downloaded and useful utilities is a task manager, so you can KILL stuff you do not need/want running, has to be a clue? I find that after I go on a download spree, about 3-7 days later my phone is so slow, I have to go through and clear out applications, and get the phone back to my control, not a collection of random processes running for no apparent reason. Another option that a GOOD application would have is an option to always close on exit. For most of us, multi tasking is really about moving between applications, and the ability on your phone should be limited, or selectable within the applications. All that said, I love my phone, it has taken some time to learn the touch screen stuff, but overall I really do like the phone (and the 4g is awesome). I would however, like to get a W7P, just to 'kick the tires'.

Justin James
Justin James

If I decide to go ahead with it, I'll let you know, thanks! J.Ja

QAonCall
QAonCall

I agree, and have an outline of what I would like to see etc.

Glastron
Glastron

While that may be your experience,I hardly think 50 percent despise their Android phones. In my experience the despise factor is evenly divide among all the brands and no where near 50%. Now if you want to say 50% hate their carrier that I would agree with!

jdr_03
jdr_03

So, after reading your initial post I thought you were just a hater. After reading this post though, I think I understand better. Unfortunately, I am pretty hyped up about Android (and WP7 to be honest) so your comments made me kind of sad. Anyway, I hope you find a way to make that idea work because the tech community needs it!

Justin James
Justin James

There's an economic issue behind why you don't see reviewers do the follow up reviews: most reviews are performed with a loaner or demo unit; a "long term" review would require someone to actually purchase the phone, adding a $500 or so cost to create the article. To make it worse, reviews of products that have been on the market for a while is a "long tail" opportunity (I *think*), not a "short tail" opportunity. One would have to mine search engine data (or even data from something like CNET's reviews) to see if the traffic for products 1 - 12 months old is higher than the traffic from when the product was brand new. That being said, I think that there is a HUGE opportunity here, and one of my 2011 projects is to consider exploring it as a business model. My idea is to find people who are good tech writers and product reviewers already (like Jason), and instead of asking them to review new products that they got a demo unit of, to review products that they actually have owned and used for a period of time, a minimum of one month, and probably up to three months (anything older than that would be much less relevant). I am at the point now, where I trust very few tech reviews, because I've seen that: * The reviewer did not spend enough time with the product, and it is obvious if you look deep * Many reviewers do not cover anything but the most obvious features that are seen in the first five minutes, but the stuff that's important on a day-to-day basis is overlooked * A number of issues do not show up until a few weeks or even months afterwards From people I've talked to, 50% or so absolutely despise their Android phones after owning them a few months, because of issues like bit rot and applications somehow wrecking base functionality, while reviewers universally love it at the OS level and only knock an Android phone at the hardware level. It is clear to me that the typical phone review is not something that I can make a purchase decision on, and from my experience in the industry, it's a direct result of the economic issues around a good review. J.Ja

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