Kantar Worldpanel has released their latest smartphone sales numbers for the month August 2014. The report mostly focuses on the continued growth of the iPhone, especially the 5C in the UK, but the Windows Phone numbers are still thought provoking as well.
Kantar juxtaposes the numbers for August 2014 with the ones from August 2013, giving a sense of where things are going. In some cases, Windows Phone sees a decrease e.g. in Germany (6.9 percent, a -1.6 percent change) and France (9.9 percent, a -0.1 percent change). However, in comparing the Kantar sales data from last month, Germany increased slightly (0.8 percent), as did France (1.2 percent).
Looking at the bigger picture, Windows Phone has 9.2 percent sales across the European big five (UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain). These numbers compare favorably to one year ago when it was just 8.5 percent (0.7 percent change). Likewise, comparing it to last month's sales, which was also just 8.5 percent and we can see continue, albeit weak growth for Microsoft.
United States approaching 5% for Windows Phone
In the US, the picture remains the same. For August 2014, Kantar reports a 4.7 percent sales rate, increasing by 0.8 percent from 2013. Likewise for July's numbers, which had Windows Phone pegged at 3.9 percent, giving Microsoft a slight 0.8 percent bump from last month.
The good news for Microsoft and the Windows Phone ecosystem is that sales are rebounding slightly across all the major markets from last month's sales numbers, save China and Australia, which saw slight declines. The results are similar for year-over-year, where numbers are up slightly.
The bad news should be obvious. While these gains are positive, and the hemorrhaging has evidently stopped, Microsoft is only holding steady while the iPhone and Android go back and forth for new customers. There is still no explosive growth across the board, although Microsoft is having success in Italy, which saw 14.4 percent sales in August 2014, up 3.7 percent year-over-year.
The numbers still show that Windows Phone has yet to hit any critical mass. Alternatively, we are at least not seeing a steady shift in downward sales, akin to BlackBerry. In other words, despite the cold reception by Western media to Windows Phone in reviews and coverage, the OS is still growing in the face of considerable opposition. Things are far from bleak.
In the end though, those Windows Phone numbers need to start going up significantly. With the iPhone 6 dominating headlines lately September's number are not likely to be pretty for Redmond, despite the recent push for the HTC One for Windows and Lumia 635.
Microsoft is certainly in an odd state right now. Their rumored flagship phone codenamed 'McLaren' was set to shake things up in mobile with its 3D Touch system, but much like the Surface Mini, it was cancelled at the last minute. As a result, Microsoft does not have a big Windows Phone flagship story to sell to the media. Instead, the HTC One for Windows is their Plan B, although this has yet to materialize on other carriers besides Verizon.
Bits like Lumia Cyan and Cortana are keeping Microsoft in the news, but their real story is with Windows 10, which seeks to unify the Windows OS across the desktop, tablets, servers and phones. The flipside to this looming threat to Microsoft's competition is that Windows 10 does not ship until mid-2015, which is an eternity in the tech world.
For the next few months, the best Microsoft can hope for is continued slow growth and a holding on to sales before their big unification achievement. Facing Apple's latest hardware, as well as the always-aggressive Samsung, is going to be difficult, especially in the US. White-label phones from BLU, Cherry Mobile, and XOLO may continue to help them in emerging markets, though it remains to be seen what impact, if any, they will have for market share.
Source: Kantar Worldpanel