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A few weeks ago I wrote an editorial piece on how 2013 was finally turning into the year of Windows Phone (after numerous false starts).

There turns out to be another facet though that I missed in my analysis, which I'd like to address here. Besides increased advertising, impressive hardware, a maturing ecosystem and a reinvigorated Nokia who has hit their stride, Microsoft is using another tactic: direct action.

It’s a fascinating change in strategy from previous years where Microsoft took on a more “hands off” approach, often leaving marketing up to their OEM and carrier partners. Now, in 2013, Microsoft is asserting themselves a lot more directly (and it’s not isolated to just Windows Phone as the recent Surface rumor suggests).

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The International Data Corporation (IDC) has posted its Q4 2012 global results of smartphone trends and it nicely reflects yesterday’s report from Gartner. The data is both a mix of good news and bad news for Windows Phone, showing that year-over-year (YoY) growth has increased by 150% going from 1.5% market share to 2.6% in late 2012. That’s certainly a positive sign but in the context of the rest of the smartphone race, it’s still a drop in the bucket.

Android and iOS accounted for a massive 91.1% of all smartphone sales, which is quite astonishing. BlackBerry, while still ahead of Windows Phone (3.2% versus 2.6% for Q4) took a drastic drop from last year when it had a more comfortable 8.1% market share.  That’s a -43% fall for the Waterloo company, which of course can be ascribed to holding on to BlackBerry 7 for so long.

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This week the two biggest components of the Windows Phone ecosystem reported financial results.  Microsoft and Nokia both printed decent numbers.

I won’t spend much time on Microsoft.  It was a fairly boring quarter. The Redmond giant came in with results that were in line with analyst results.  They’ve now sold a grand total of 60 million Windows 8 licenses, but this includes licenses sold to Dell and other manufacturers. So it’s hard to pin down exactly how many boxes consumers are actually buying with the latest and greatest Windows OS.

In the land of mobile, Microsoft won’t say how many Surface tablets they’ve sold.  I can’t say I blame them.  If they revealed numbers they’d just be compared to iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab sales. Why would Microsoft want to give people more reason to print negative headlines?

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Latest figures published by market research group Kantar has revealed that Windows Phone is on the rise across the board, excluding a number of markets where sales remain low. The Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X and Samsung ATIV S are all high-end smartphones that will be pushing the platform forward in 2013 with potential marketshare gain in multiple locations, but how has the platform progressed through 2012?

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All is rosy between the two chaps at the Lumia 920 announcement

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop appeared to welcome the idea of Microsoft creating its own Windows Phone in an investor call today. Elop has previously declined to acknowledge or confirm such a project was underway at Redmond, but we later covered news that Microsoft does indeed have its own Windows Phone in the works.

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Behind those smiles is concern

This was another important week for the mobile giant from Cupertino.  Apple continued to improve upon its iPhone product line by launching the iPhone 5. While I believe Apple delivered exactly what investors need, none of this really changes the story for the two major comeback players - Nokia and RIM.

So let’s focus on Nokia here.  We already know they did a poor job of unveiling the Lumia 920 but I didn’t think the stock market reaction made sense.  Sure, Nokia left a lot of information off the table but they still showed off a very nice phone running Windows Phone 8, proving their lineup is becoming interesting again.  And as much as I love Apple products (I really do), I recognize that people don’t just want to buy iClones.  Apple is an amazing company with amazing products.  But they aren’t for everybody.

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Yesterday, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop took the stage to unveil two important new Lumia phones powered by Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 OS.  Despite positive reviews of the hardware, the stock collapsed by 16%.  

What does all this mean?  Why did the stock collapse and what does it mean for the future of Nokia and Windows Phone?  Is there a real message here, or is this simply panic and depression on the part of investors?

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According to Bernstein Research's Pierre Ferragu, who has joined Nokia and Windows Phone skeptics, consumers simply don't want Microsoft's mobile platform, no matter which OEM pumps out hardware - it's just too little too late. It was thought that Microsoft could see a surge of interest in Windows Phone due to the results of the Apple and Samsung patent battle, which we covered earlier this week.

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Although Windows Phone 8 is not quite yet here, the ever-dynamic smartphone industry is once again churning and there are some big changes coming.

Today we’ve seen two stories that will both have an impact on Windows Phone--one about Samsung, the other about HTC--and we’ll see what that will mean for consumers this fall.

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Another Monday, another questionable story about marketshare and smartphones is making its way around the tech blogs. This one centers on data collected by StatCounter, a site that collects data usage on browsing habits. They claim to gather data on more than 3 million websites and 15 billion page views per month, making them one of the largest aggregating companies around.

Recently, WMPoweruser ran a story that looked at browser data for RIM versus Windows Phone in the United States. Assuming all the respective trajectories stay on the same course, it looks like Windows Phone may overtake RIM sometime in November of this year. But is that the whole story?

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Windows Phone has been growing at a steady rate, mainly down to advertising campaigns and brand pushes from Nokia with its Lumia family of smartphones. According to data released today by IDC, the platform has been sporting a year-on-year growth increase of 115% - not bad, eh? IDC also notes that the OS has been closing the gap between itself and Blackberry in the last quarter in the fight to become the 3rd major player in the smartphone market.

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HTC has released its audited Q2 2012 earnings report today, which keep in line with unaudited results we touched on last month. According to the report, HTC generated revenues of NT$91.04 billion (~$3.04 billion), while net income sat at NT$7.4 billion (~$247 million) between March and June this year. The company's gross margin was 27.01% with an operating margin of 9%. 

HTC expects a tough Q3 and we will be looking out for further decreases in revenue, profit and operating margins in the next financial report. Revenues are expected to be in the region of NT$70-80 billion, with a gross margin and operating margin of 25% and 7% respectively. Should the handset maker continue to dwindle slowly south in the third quarter of this year, it'll paint a rather bleak picture compared to the height of success back in Q3 2011, with reported revenues of NT$135.82 billion (~$4.53 billion).

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Nokia Lumia 900 with Android 4.x?

Should Nokia have chosen Android over Windows Phone? Many think so, including one former Apple executive.

Things are getting rough for Nokia. Today, their stock hit the historic low of $2 a share before closing at $2.02.  That’s bad, very bad for a company who traded for over $40 a share just a few years ago. What’s more, the “no Windows Phone 8” for current devices, especially the high-profile Lumia line, is doing nothing to inspire confidence in the company, whose primary business is selling phones. See RIM.

Recently though, some people have been clamoring for Nokia’s heyday and stating that Nokia should have gone with Android instead of Windows Phone. Others think they abandoned Symbian way too early even though Nokia’s stock crashed below $10 back in 2009. News flash: Symbian was dragging the company down and their stock price reflected this years before they announced they were going with Windows Phone.

In an interview with Computing.co.uk, a former Apple executive named Jean-Louis Gassée (he left in 1990, before the company became interesting) threw Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and the Board under a bus noting that the company should have chosen Android, like he recommended, instead. Sour grapes?

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Microsoft, Nokia & AT&T had high hopes for the Lumia 900 back in January

Microsoft with the help of Nokia has stemmed the bleeding of market share over the last two years as the new comScore number just published reveal.

The number of mobile subscribers is up 0.1% to 4.0% ending at the end of May, 2012. That means those numbers include the launch of Nokia’s much hyped Lumia 900 on AT&T and softer launches of the admirable Samsung Focus 2 and HTC Titan 2.

That’s the good news because Microsoft has been losing market share to Android and the iPhone for a very long time now. If we look back to the same period in May 2011, you can see Microsoft had 5.8% of the market and continued to slide up until the end of May this year.

The bad news is multifaceted. For one, these numbers include Microsoft’s legacy Windows Mobile devices, which presumably have now mostly died off. Number two should be obvious. Although stopping the hemorrhage and gaining some market share for the first time in years, a 0.1% increase is hardly anything to be excited about—especially if you’re Nokia.

comScore's latest numbers show Microsoft doing slightly better

The Nokia Lumia 900 on AT&T is hands down the most visible and well promoted Windows Phone to date. The marketing campaign was quite solid, presence was high and it was being heavily discussed in the press. Despite those efforts, Microsoft and Nokia have barely been able to squeak by and if anything, we can read the 900’s sales as being mediocre, at best. We're also curious to see how Nokia's stock will respond, though our guess is not well (currently it's still at the very low $2.14, up slightly).

That certainly has to be disappointing, especially for those of us who had pinned high hopes on this AT&T flagship device. And although June may also bring in some more numbers, our bet is sales of dropped slightly and not increased making 4.1% by the end of the summer the likely market share for Microsoft.

comScore of course is not the only numbers house around, so take these numbers with a grain of salt until they can be corroborated with other market indicators.

Source: comScore

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According to data from StatCounter, Windows Phone is doing relatively well in Finland by capturing 8% of the smartphone web traffic, thanks to Nokia. The Finnish manufacturer is working hard at promoting not only the Lumia line of smartphones, but the Windows Phone platform too, and on a global scale. It's good to see brand support in its home country remain strong.

Unfortunately, the picture for the rest of the world is rather bleak. Microsoft's OS has only 0.53% of the worldwide mobile web traffic. The country sat in second place, behind Finland, is Iceland at 2.3%. Even though it's quite a considerable gap between the two spots, it's interesting to see Iceland near the top instead of the UK or other markets that have witnessed heavy marketing.

From first-to-tenth in terms of web traffic ranking for Windows Phone: Finland, Iceland, Martinique, Faroe Islands, Austria, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, and Spain. While web traffic doesn't equal sales or true market share, it's an indicator of where Windows Phone is performing well. IDC has recently put Windows Phone (combined with Windows Mobile) marketshare at just 2.2%.

Nokia is set to hold the Nokia World conference this year in Helsinki, Finland.

Source: Pingdom

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Whether you're a heavy stock stalker, or are a simple human being who purchased Facebook shares for fun, you'll want to check out Markets & Me for Windows Phone. So what is Markets & Me all about? It's primarily a stock portfolio management and tracking app that keeps the user up-to-date with alterations in a number of markets.

Markets & Me packs some unique functionality, which compliments the usual stock checking and management. Latest financial headlines are pulled down from Reuters and company events are available in an intuitive view. Specific regions can be selected for this calendar, which will alter what economic events available.

Positions of the user can be imported / exported to the cloud (via SkyDrive), existing Google portfolios can be integrated, and there's a personal interactive chart of stock performances to boot. It's a fairly feature-rich experience with everything the average Joe needs while on the move.

The app boasts a rich Metro interface, which reminds us of Weather Flow and the like. As one can tell with the above shots, Markets & Me isn't an ugly duckling. The app is completely free for the time being, with future versions possibly introducing a premium experience. Version 1.1 is already heading through the Marketplace checks, which will apply a number of bug fixes and improvements.

Check out a quick demonstration of the app in action below.

You can download Markets and Me from the Marketplace for free.

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Market research firm IDC has released Q1 2012 data that shows fairly large growth for both Android and iOS, while Symbian and BlackBerry continue to fall into gloomy depths. Android stole the show with a Year-on-Year change in terms of shipping volume of 145%, with iOS in tow at 88%. RIM and Symbian, on the other hand, were hitting -29.7% and -60.6% respectively. Some fairly steep recordings.

But what about Windows Phone? It's sat on a respectable 26.9% increase, which is the point to take away here. While the marketshare has dipped slightly from 2.8 to 2.2 (includes Windows Mobile), the shipping volumes for the platform have seen a boost. We can see clearly the effect Nokia is having on Windows Phone.

"Windows Phone has yet to make significant inroads in the worldwide smartphone market, but 2012 should be considered a ramp-up year for Nokia and Microsoft to boost volumes. Until Nokia speeds the cadence of its smartphone releases or more vendors launch their own Windows Phone-powered smartphones, IDC anticipates slow growth for the operating system."

This is exactly what Chris highlighted in his report on Gartner's Q1 2012 data. Without repeating ourselves, check out the chart below for more details on how the platforms have progressed between Q1 2011 and 2012.

It's looking positive for Windows Phone, which is the main thing to look at. Microsoft and Nokia are doing well with increasing the reach of the brand itself. We'll have to see in Q2 how the continued push from AT&T, recent launches of the Lumia 900 in and across Europe, as well as the upcoming release in Australia, affects marketshare and shipping numbers in future reports.

Source: IDC, via: BGR

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Nielsen has announced that half of all mobile subscribers in the U.S. now own a smartphone. Comparing February 2012, where the lines for both feature phones and smartphones meet in the above graph, with February last year we can clearly see a massive jump from just 38%. That's an average increase of smartphone owners by 1% per-month.

With low-end, affordable Android and Windows Phones, consumers are now able to hop onto the smartphone train without breaking the bank balance. As technology continuously evolves and social networking becomes more prominent in our lives, more mobile phone owners are looking at ways to stay in touch with friends and family that doesn't require either texting or calling.

"More than two-thirds of those who acquired a new mobile device in the last three months chose a smartphone over a feature phone."

According to Nielsen's marketshare data (for the U.S.), Android still runs the show with a 48% hold of the market. iOS is at a comfortable 32%, RIM struggles on with 12%, and Windows Phone is lost somewhere among the "other" 8%. While many could look at this negatively, this data is prior to Nokia and AT&T's upcoming marketing blitz for the Lumia 900, which is set to available on April 8th.

With the steady rate of consumers acquiring smartphones, now is the time for Nokia to push through the Lumia family of handsets to capture the market, and Microsoft needs to be behind them throwing surplus dosh away at every opportunity.

Via: BGR

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Developer András Velvárt has posted some interesting date regarding which devices are using his popular alternative browser SurfCube (which just had an update). While we don't see many mystery devices on the list (nice to see the Lumia 900 though) we do get an idea of device breakdown and popularity.

The Nokia Lumia 800, arguably one of the most promoted Windows Phones yet is really gaining traction. In fact, it's number one with nearly 14% of usage on SurfCube. That's compared to the HTC HD7 at 11.7% and the Samsung Focus with 9.3% which is astonishing because as you can figure out, those devices have been out much longer than Nokia's offering.

There should be little doubt that Nokia's ad campaigns and ability to launch in many smaller markets is really paying off. Of course, there is some wiggle room here too. For comparison, in the app "I'm a WP7!" we can see the Lumia 800 at 6% which is half that of the Focus and HD7--still, even those numbers are impressive as it Nokia is clearly starting to eat up the Windows Phone market.

Pick up SurfCube v4.2 here in the Marketplace and "I'm a WP7!" here.

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