Two high profile Microsoft figures, Joe Belfiore and Charlie Kindel, director of the Windows Phone program and GM of the Windows Phone 7 Developer group respectively, were recent guests of two separate tech events. They were there of course to discuss Windows Phone 7, the smartphone market and the challenges that Microsoft is facing in relation to their competitors.
The big news, for some at least, is that when both were asked about early sales numbers and both refused to provide any details. At D: Dive Into Mobile conference in San Francisco, Belfiore said it was "too early" to talk numbers, whereas Kindel, in Paris at Le Web 2010, only mentioned that they planned to "sell a lot" in 2011.
Many are taking this evasive posturing as signs that Microsoft's sales numbers are either lower than expected or simply not worth talking about--after all, anything less than yhe oft cited 200,00+ daily activations of iPhones and Android devices will be seen as a failure. It seems to us that what bothers many in the media about Microsoft's position is not so much the possible sales (or lack thereof) but the denial of a sensational story for the media (a narrative that could only hurt their image). Yet even then, we still have to mention it.
Microsoft's position, for many, is bewildering only for their lack of self aggrandizement--they know they are the underdog here and while they are proud of their OS they know that this will be a multi-year challenge, not an overnight success. That sort of realism should be respected, but in this day and age of tech cynicism, it is met mostly with surprise. Fact is we, nor Microsoft, expect Windows Phone 7 to post any real significant market numbers till at least the end of 2011, giving them a 12 month window to get their OS recognized. We think that since currently only 20% of mobile phone sales are smartphones (Gartner, 2010), they have time and room for maneuvering. While not exciting, that's the reality.