Microsoft not discussing sales numbers of Windows Phone 7--yet

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.

Source: D: Dive Into Mobile, Le Web 2010 (U-Stream)

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Just a quick CONGRATULATIONS on a short, concise, balanced and non-sensasionalist post.
    Means a lot these days
    Keep it up:)
  • Thanks, much appreciated.
  • I think people should just wait for this holiday to end and MS's overall sales gtr to end and THEN they'll get numbers when MS reports everything. Even if the final numbers aren't super high I think for something this new and with a few gaps still to be filled to sell something like, just a number I'm going to toss out, 2-3million I think shouldn't be looked at so negativly. Of course people that are fans of Iphone and Android will compare it to their own respective numbers and say it's a flop or w/e, but then again your average techi/gadget lover sure does have a short sight and memory.
  • Continuing in the vein of being realistic, I think things should be put in perspective. First, there does exist a sales range that would be viewed as "respectable" by many tech writers and watchers. That range doesn't include 200k/day as a highpoint but likely does encompass Microsoft's own internal predictions. It's quite possible that WP7 is a disappointment even based on reasonable predictions of initial sales. I do think tech watchers both over and under-estimate the # of potential early buyers for WP7. On the one hand, as you point out, smartphones have yet to saturate the general market in the way they've saturated the technorati market that report on them. On the other hand, how many potential WP7 buyers are currently locked in contracts or have casually purchased an Android phone in the last year? I agree that it's simply too early to judge WP7's viability based on sales so far and it's also too early and potentially damaging to announce sales figures. I also agree that Kindel's and Belfiore's comments were quite sober. Second, I would like some context on when Android, Palm and their partners commented on sales, what the nature of those comments were (qualitative/quantitative,estimate/exact, etc) and how their comments (or lack therof) were received by the media. I did a quick search of G1 sales and it seems like it took a while for TMobile to announce official numbers and HTC only could comment on the number shipped. I only remember Google announcing number of daily activations earlier this year. I'll do a search to see if I'm remembering correctly but I'm pretty sure it was a while before they announced sales/activation numbers. Third, a quick glance at the front page of WPCentral will serve as confirmation that sensationalism isn't confined to those who are biased against Microsoft or bewildered by their lack of self-aggrandizement. I appreciate posts like this one that take a grounded, thoughtful view of all things WP7 but I don't appreciate apologizing or aggrandizing on Microsoft's behalf (and that's especially a risk to mindful of when one goes meta and reports on the reporting).
  • You know, none of the 1.0 releases of Android or Palm WebOS got anywhere. Does anyone even remember Android 1.0? So ya, it is all about perspective, and it's been one month, MS probably wants to wait till after the holidays to see how it really turns out. Lots of people wait to get stuff around now and even on the last day before xmas. Also when they kick off sales on the CDMA networks then we can really start talking. One also has to see what sorta supply issues are out there, Dell for example still hasn't gotten going and I'm still waiting for my Venue Pro.
  • "While not exiting, that's the reality." - That's a meaningless statement if I ever heard one. What does "While not exiting" mean? (Please, please, please; Danial, please start proof reading your posts!)
    What I'm hearing from my friends at Microsoft is that sales of WP7 phones are well below company internal projections. It isn't a coincidence that sales figures and and developer analytics, which would provide a backdoor means to estimate sales, are still unavailable.
    Does this mean that anyone interested in a WP7 phone should look elsewhere? No.
    Does this mean that Microsoft is going to throw up their hands like they did with the Kin? No. Microsoft is in it for the long haul. (Another meaningless statement - as if they had a choice.) However, there are two groups Microsoft evasions do effect: long suffering shareholders trying to gauge the success of the company, and current and potential developers. I'm not talking about those that just download the development tools - another meaningless number that Microsoft is more than willing to share. I'm talking about those trying to decide where best to commit their limited resources.