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Most US smartphone owners don’t know about Windows Phone (but it's still better off than BlackBerry 10)

With smartphone survey info, it’s always a tough call between “the glass is half empty or full” analyses. Such is the case with a new study of 1,500 US smartphone owners by MKM Partners on brand awareness.  The survey asked about what consumers know about current smartphone trends and their future buying plans.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone did not do terrible but it’s still not ideal either. For instance, out of the 1,500 respondents, a full 60% did not even know that Windows Phone 8 had launched. By comparison, 83% did not know about BlackBerry 10 hitting Canada and Europe.

But in fairness to BlackBerry, their US launch coincided with the survey, which took place over the last three weeks, so perhaps that knowledge should not be expected by average, non-techy folks. Compare that to Windows Phone 8, which was available since last November and clearly Microsoft should have the upper hand for advertising and brand awareness. On the other hand, these numbers reveal that it is BlackBerry whom have the most catching up to do.

Nokia was also singled out as having low association with Windows Phone, which should not be too surprising since they never ever mention “Windows Phone” in their advertising, instead focusing on their “Lumia” brand. For future purchase intentions, 4.4% of the respondents are considering a BlackBerry but only 0.7% for Nokia. In the US, Nokia has never been a big player here, and although a lot of people have heard of them, their Symbian smartphones have always been a blip on the radar of carriers.

Clearly Nokia has a lot of work to do to, but if HTC can go from ODM to OEM, garnering 3.1% for future purchases, then undoubtedly Nokia (who is more media savvy) can do the same.

The good news here is a full 44.5% are unsure of what their next purchase will be, which leaves wiggle room for either Microsoft or BlackBerry to woo potential new customers. In terms of robustness and prime selection of devices, we’re of course betting on Windows Phone but one cannot deny BlackBerry’s name and legacy unambiguously has long legs.

We should be cautious of such survey's though because since we don't have precedent to compare it to it's hard to judge trends in a proper context.

Via: Barron’s; BGR

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Oh please don't tell the die-hard Crackberry fans this or there'll be rage all over. Already they tried to do that mouse-click happy thing during the March madness...and they lost this? there'll be rage.........ehhhh Blood...
    I have few die-hard BB fans in the family and the day BB 10 was announced, few of them repeatedly whatsapp me 5+ hrs even after the whole presentation shebang was over...telling me how it's nicer and better than wp, iOS, apps and all the other Sheniningans...while i just kept nodding "Yes Sir, it's nice and beautifuuuuuul" ....
  • But honestly the survey WAS conducted at a bad time for BlackBerry. What Daniel said is true. The average person wouldn't know of BB10's release that early, especially with BB being a minor player nowadays. And I don't see what the smart phone madness (which fans of ALL SMART PHONES cheated on, mind you) and general BB bashing has to do with anything.
  • I'm a WP fan, but BB10 is kicking WP's butt in sales on best buy dot com. Sure, I'm no big-time analyst firm, but I think it is telling.
  • It's funny how people say Windows Phone fans react badly to criticism online. Blackberry fans are even worse with endless comments on any piece that isn't raving about BB in a positive way. It's usually things like "you aren't professional/mature enough for BB10" or "stick to you toy phones" etc.
  • people not watch t.v anymore, i always see a wp8 commercial. 
  • Not many people under 30 do actually. Movies, Netflix and games. MS is doing W8 & Surface on AMC during The Walking Dead, so they are getting smarter.
  • What they need to do is make use of all the crap ads on the 360, and plaster wp8 and RT all over it
  • It makes sense, if more people knew and used WP the percentage of users considering changing would drop massively.
  • So short of spending 30 million dollars in ads like Samsung, how do you inform people that windows phone exists. In the US there has been a windows phone commercial running every 20 minutes. The NCAA championship was sponsored by windows phone and there were commercials non stop. Im starting to think the word "Windows" automatically causes people to tune out. Perhaps its time to start using Surface for all things you don't want to call Windows or XBOX.
  • That's just's a tough problem to get brand awareness, and you're right, Samsung has invested *a lot* of money in advertising (crushing HTC in the process). It's not easy, and MS certainly is trying harder than ever.
  • Remember operation rolling thunder? It clearly hasn't worked. When people hear Windows they tune out because its an old brand. Windows Phone needs a catchy name for its OS because Windows clearly isn't cutting it anymore. Operation rolling thunder was suppose to spend millions and this many people still don't know about it? Rename it now since not a lot of people know about it anyways.
  • I think this is obvious to everyone except Steve Ballmer.
  • Yeah, the same Steve Ballmer that thinks not having a heavy presence on the two third majority CDMA market in the US is not a MAJOR PROBLEM.  Having a presence on Verizon (and soon on Sprint) does not represent being on the entire CDMA market, and having zero presence on the prepaid side and several regional carriers like Appalachian Wireless and Open Mobile de Puerto Rico is not helping Microsoft on their cause to push their platform, and this is not the fault of the carriers.
  • This many people don't know about it? The survey was of 1500 people. If the survey represents the broader population, then it's a problem. 
  • That's why they recruited Nokia, and that's why Nokia is building their Lumia brand instead of heavily naming their smartphones Windows Phones.
  • And Nokia is using the same "strategy" to not cater the majority which are on the CDMA side (Verizon alone does not count for the entire CDMA market). Nokia has potential, but needs to repair bridges with the CDMA carriers first, and Sprint and US Cellular should be in their priority list!
  • I'm trying to reconcile that 6.4% in the survey had WP OS, but only 1.6% were Nokia? Just doesn't add up.  Certainly throws the rest of their numbers into question...
  • Yeah they should mit have used the word Windows Phone, xbox or surface phone would be a better choice. People still connect Microsoft with something bad, but Microsoft changed a lot.
  • I don't agree in throwing the towel regarding Windows brand. It's the company's main legacy, it was what brought computers to middle class families all over the world. This is not the 90s anymore, people who bad mouth Windows brand usually resort to baseless assumptions.
  • The name doesn't apply to phones. Do you see a single window on your phone. Quite frankly, if they ever make the desktop a hidden feature, like they did with the command prompt, it won't apply to future version of windows either.
  • One big reason why 'Windows' is so popular is because its pretty much the only alternative when they walk into the computer store. Now that Android and iOS are getting more floor space, we see that people are abandoning Windows every quarter. People wouldn't go and buy Windows computer because they are just awesome, they would buy them because they were cheap and the any other alternative were expensive Mac OSX computers that were expensive.
  • I've been saying for years that the biggest thing holding back WP are the words "Microsoft" and "Windows". MS just doesn't understand how awful their reputation is, how every lousy desktop OS (remember Me? Vista? - wait! Put down that bottle and call your Sponsor, they're not worth it!), and unnecessary, confusing and dysfunctional Office "Update" has poisoned people to them. Add Consumers too young to know thus just know that its boring stuff that their Parents do at work. They have a huge opportunity to distance themselves from a well-deserved but no longer accurate reputation - DROP THE WORD WINDOWS!!!! Do the obvious, rebrand it as "Surface" Phone, along with Surface Tablets. People love the name, it sounds WAY too cool to have anything to do with Microsoft and Windows. It would lift most of the burdon of the past off of the platform and give it a huge leg up over the stale sounding fruits and droids.
  • To me, it doesn't make much sense to ask a company to change its name, Microsoft is a very respected brand.
    For instance, my father bought a cheap Chrome notebook for my mother, but he asks her to use his Windows 8 laptop whenever she wants to use her home banking, he thinks those "free" and cheap OS's are not trustworthy, and he's been using Windows for +15 years. Sometimes a idiosyncratic relationship and but a strong one, nevertheless - sometimes he whines and say this should be this or that, but he always ends up choosing MS products over other options - trust. I think the opinion people have on other peoples opinion about MS is inflated, from my work and family experiences they all see MS as company which sells products they can trust.
  • Surface OS, sounds much better than Windows Phone OS. Check this out, "This phone is running iOS; this one is running Android; this is a Windows Phone device/this one is running Windows Phone OS" that last one just doesn't flow. "iOS runs smooth; Windows Phone runs smooth" "which windows phone? Asks the non-techie. "No, Windows Phone is the operating system."
  • Surface would be cool for MS own hardware, but it would make no sense to stop calling it Windows Phone when the whole corporate strategy is unifying Desktop, Tablet and Phone into one platform. I think the naming has to stay because it makes sense. Changing the name because of MS' reputation doesnt do anything. Everyone knows that "Surface" is Microsft running Windows. You dont fool anyone with name games.
  • I wrote an post on Expert Zone for windows phone a year ago suggesting Microsoft shot its self in the foot my using "Windows" in the name. WINDOWS is a problem and does need to be rebranded if Microsoft wants to be taken seriously. They need to come up with something catchy that will catch peoples' attention. Even though windows has sold billions of copies it is OLD. Android and iOS a newer and people always want the new stuff, not something from the 80's.
  • Idk, the changing name "solution" sounds a bit juvenile and very unprofessional, it would be a disaster in the corporate world, maybe with teens the "cool" sounding factor would be good idea, but a bit of a fad, and MS is here for the ling run.
  • I don't think so. Microsoft has done it with before, remember aka What about aka It's possible.
  • Outlook is an established brand, though. 
  • To everyone that thinks changing the name would be disastrous, I'd ask what you think the impact of 4 years of sells bellow 10 million devices would be. If the plan isn't working, its time to go in a different direction. Its not the hardware. WP devices are highly rated across the board. The devices and OS has more awards than anyone could ever have imagined. At yet it still has miniscule sales numbers. Its time to fade windows out in the mobile space. Tablets, phones, and ultrabooks should be all about Xbox and Surface. Its hard to let it go, but according to sales numbers the customers already have walked away from the windows brand in the mobile space. Whats taking Microsoft so long to do the same. Change is inevitable, progress is optional.
  • Daniel where is modern combat???????????????
  • ..................Get out.
  • IDK about you guys, but iOS and Droid UI based on icons looks and feels so dated... Soviet style kinda dated.
  • the problem is that people think that iOS and Android are the only two options.  Most people assume my WP is an android.  Even after explaining that is is a WP, they ask "so is it an Android or iPhone?".  People really don't know about WP.  This is a huge hurdle and i don't think it helps that Nokia doesn't mention WP in their ads.
  • Reminds me of a King of the Hill episode. "So are you Chinese or are you Japanese." "I am Laotian. I am from Laos." "...ummm, so is that Chinese or Japanese?"
  • Exactly; that's a good episode. but it is a real problem; only marketing and word of mouth will help.  They also need some exclusive apps that actually make a difference too!
  • Oh man, I'm so glad this line stuck with more people than just me lol
  • Yeah one of my friends didn't know about WP and when I told him he could soon get a 720 at a reasonable price (he is using a crappy android) he immediately wanted to switch! Same with a family friend who thought android and ios were the only operating systems.
  • I agree; its a slow way to grow it but word of mouth works really well.  I have gotten a few people to convert but its not easy. 
  • At this point, "mind share" is more important than "market share." I hope to see mind share continue to increase, and then I'm confident market share will follow.
  • I saw a commercial when I was at the movies. It's a good idea to do that because they have you locked down there.  First time in 2 years someone at the drive through saw my Yellow 920 and said, is that the... is that the lu.... is that... Yes, it's the new Nokia Phone.
    It's just like the Surface, I say, I have a Surface. "What's that",  Microsoft's new tablet, "Never heard of it". It's the one that clicks the keyboard to the tablet, "oh, Yes i've seen that on TV"
    TV is out, word of month is in. Pay the damn salesman extra $50 per phone to sell it, give the phones for free to everyone. Say, bring in your old Iphone and get this for free.
    Just my 2 cents.
  • Up until Windows Phone 7, WP was not a regular consumer product.  It was a a business phone just as BB was.  iPhone went after the common user first, then came Android.  Its a far superior product but we have a lot of ground to make up.
    Maybe you should've called it the XBOX PHONE?
  • Xbox Phone would sound like a gaming device, would never be used by corporations or taken seriously.
  • Geez I like windows phone but its not superior in any significant way that can persuade buyers. I know none of the people I talk to own a windows phone and believe me I'm looking. People love the feel and ease of the iPhone and people love the screen sizes and functionality of android. What does windows phone have to latch to besides a fluid ui? 
  • Completely agree.
  • im on my 4th WP device, currently using the L920 =) but im trying to sell it :')
    i wanna try the BB Q10 xD
  • Why not the Z10? 
  • How much? Color??
  • Get out.
  • Most of these guys do not follow their their instinct but they do follow the crowd, if high profile people start to use WP8, they follow, If i remember well, Mr Obama said he uses blackberry thats why its so popular to them, they don't research for themselves (majority) on the net to find out which phone is the best or has the best hardware, specs etc but rely on what they are told by sales reps. 
    as for me, i always compare and make my own research before i buy, the phone must have features/applications that i use not how many they are on the phone or store.
    my major let down on NL920 was the lack of FM radio, No local music is played on any net radios & the speed is not all that good and the reliance on Pc when you want to manipulate your songs on the phone, on symbian it was superb.
  • In Canada, Windows Phone 8 ads are non existent. When the Lumia launched here with Rogers they ran general commercials "windows 8 experience" not necessarily focusing on the Lumia. I hardly see anyone carrying any windows phone here most iPhones, lots of blackberry and Samsung. Yup they - Nokia should run their own ads here.
  • For me, asking/suggesting MS to change its name is a bit of a blasphemy, like renouncing to its DNA and trying to hide behind a juvenile scheme, its price - be seen as an unprofessional company far outweighs the eventual gains with the younger crowd.
  • Microsoft neither AT&T promote the phones aggressively the way it should be here in the States. Since the beginning I'm being saying I don't know why Nokia and Microsoft keep choosing AT&T as the premier carrier. Until they keep doing this the story won't be different.Sadly but that's the truth.
  • I'd say 1500 is too small a number
  • The problem I have seen, when you say Windows Phone, they think of Windows Mobile....  I have talked to a ton of people about WP and when I say Windows Phone, I get a response, I had one of those years ago and they were crap (personally I liked WM, it had it's bugs but, it was like a PC).
    Microsoft needs to find a way to get rid of the past (Windows Mobile/PocketPC) and move on with letting people know that this is NEW, not the old stuff.
    It's kind of like I see american cars, living in the US, back in the 80's I had 2 Fords and 3 Chevy's and they were all crap, after about 90K, they were pretty much falling apart and I mean all of them.  I got a Toyota then a Lexus and even though american cars look better than they did back then, I would not touch one with a 90 foot pole becuase of past experiance.  Same thing is happening to older people with Windows Phone.
    Besides dumping a lot of money at the problem (ads) there is not much they can do to fix this problem besides getting a phone in people's hands and if your already against something, that wont be easy.
  • Totally agree with you, it's not changing names, that's very shallow, it's patience and putting phones out there, showing it is new, it is cool, it carries Microsoft name so it's trustworthy. Coca cola is the most valuable brand in the world and it's +100 years old, IBM the second one and it's older than MS, so changing names isn't a thing a company like these would do.
  • In switzerland, only technical interested people knows windows phone. In our company 5 coworkers have a windows phone...3 of them for business others private. All because me :-)
  • More and more people do know windows phone. A few people at work can tell just by my 8x design that its a windows phone. Everybody says they like the design of the phone and the way the screen looks. People like it and recognize windows but they're just not buying like crazy. I think it'll pick up though I've seen a few people with windows phones compared to a year ago I never saw anyone else with one.
  • Just today I had someone recognize my phone and ask about it. She owns a Galaxy S3 and has grown tired of it. She's interested in getting a Lumia 920, which I thought was cool. But beyond that, I'm not surprised people aren't away. It's obvious when you walk into any store and see no Lumias or HTCs on display. Employees are ignorant and steer people towards the same old stuff. It doesn't help that accessory support also sucks. You'll find rack after rack of duplicate iPhone accessories, with a handful of items for the Galaxy S3. There's an active push, unintentional or not, against Windows Phone. Microsoft isn't helping matters with their lame marketing campaigns. Instead of trying to sell consumers on the user experience they're fixated on trying to make themselves look cool. You can't force a lifestyle brand, but it seems that's what Microsoft is intent on doing. So consumers are left scratching their heads, wondering what it is Microsoft actually offers. Most people probably think they're just seeing a commercial for Windows 8, not realizing it's actually a commercial for a smartphone or a tablet.
  • More clearcut evidence of the absolutely *miserable* job that Microsoft has done marketing Windows Phone. Monumentally horrifyingly epic marketing failure.
  • AGREED!!
  • Surveys like this are complete rubbish. "Most US smartphone owners"... 300M+ people in the USA. Assuming half that number have a smartphone, this mob asked 0.001% of people. That is not most, it's not even some. It's a handful of people on the street. Ask 10% of people.. Hell, even 1% and then publish your results. There is no way this information is indicative of its target group.
  • I agree the population mean would be more accurate as you have more population. Same bs survey, move along.
  • It's part of statistics, it's not alway possible to do a census which is they only choose a sample of the population. 
  • When I decided to replace my BlackBerry in 2012, I went to the nearest dealer assuming I'd get an Android.  But the best promotion at the time was for Windows Phone 7. It was discounted in order to clear out inventory in preparation for Windows Phone 8.  I personally  like having the ability to create, edit and save Office documents on my phone;  this ought to have been pushed as a major feature in the market instead of being something I just casually discovered when I powered up the phone for the first time.
  • A microcosm of the overall problem with the brand communication for Windows Phone. Features like MS Office/Skydrive integration are pushed to the background, replaced by B-List celebrities and superficial nonsense.
  • Agreed. The main reason I wanted to get a WP was due to the office integration. I like the ability to view and edit my notes on the phone instead of having to print it out all the time and carry it around with me.
  • That's a great idea, everyone has heard of a phone!
  • Of course nobody would know. America is too busy being phandroids and iSheep these days.
    As much as I like WP, I think branding it Windows Phone was a mistake. They didn't call Xbox "Windows Gaming", or "Windows Console", or "Microsoft such-and-such".
    Surface is a great name, with the double-meaning of a "surface" to work on, and the alternate definition of "rising" (surfacing).
    Why would MS brand their tablets and phones differently? iPhone & iPad go smoothly go hand-in-hand.
    Let's be honest, the words "Microsoft" and "Windows" are about as unsexy as it gets.
    But, it's too late, they can't start over at this point.
  • They know IOS is better than windows phones.......
  • To everyone saying that the name "Windows" and it's poor reputation is the problem, why don't people take issue with "Windows 7"? Isn't that called Windows? Don't most people love it? Why would Windows Phone suddenly put a bad taste in people's mouth. The real issue is, people are afraid of change. Windows 8 runs great on my PC and I initially was apprehensive about updating my OS. I find that just about everything I did in Windows 7 I can do on Windows 8 and it is no longer confusing. It took about 2 days for that aspect to wear off.
    Also, to those same people calling for a name change...When Microsoft came up with a cool, catchy name and a stellar OS, they called it Zune. People wrote it off without trying it. It's consumers resistance to change that is keeping them from trying Windows Phone, not the name "Windows". Now that iOS is growing long in the tooth, and people deal with bug after bug on their Android phones, they are more willing to try another OS. Majority ruled for awhile but that's getting old and stodgy fast, Microsoft is still gaining momentum under the Windows brand. Give it time.