Windows Phone 7 lagging behind Windows Mobile in market share -- is it a big deal?

The big news making the rounds today is in regards to how the smartphone landscape changed in Q4 in terms of market share. New numbers came out from The NPD Group today showing that Windows Phone 7 grabbed as much market share as the nearly two-year old WebOS:

  • Apple iOS: 19 percent (-4%)
  • Android OS: 53 percent (+9%)
  • RIM OS: 19 percent (-2%)
  • Windows Mobile: 4 percent (-3%)
  • Windows Phone 7 OS: 2 percent (-)
  • Palm’s WebOS: 2 percent (-)

But some seem to be taking these numbers is that Windows Mobile outsold Windows Phone 7--yet what is being reported is market share, which includes an established user base. In other words, Windows Mobile has been around for years, there are a lots of users and not everyone suddenly gave up their WM phone for Windows Phone 7 (especially with 2 year contracts binding people). As a result, Windows Mobile still lost three percent and Windows Phone 7 gained two (though no correlation is implied).

What is worth noting is the following: "Windows Phone 7 also entered the market with lower share than either Android or webOS at their debuts, according to NPD's Mobile Phone Track". Of course even those numbers are relative as the smartphone market was certainly thinner and less aggressive two years ago than it is today, especially with Android taking off.

Should we have expected Windows Phone 7, which only went on sale in mid-November, to have made more a splash than it did? Perhaps. But we see this more a problem of message and getting the OS "out there" than anything else.  The numbers are certainly not awe-inspiring, but we also don't see it as greater interest in Windows Mobile either. Sixty days is not much time to prove yourself in such a volatile market--Android and the iPhone are certainly tough competition to make headway with.

Source: NPD Group (PR); via WirelessWeek

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • One issue that seems no one is paying attention to, outside of the stuck in the two year contract issue, is availability. My new every two is available to me right now but I'm on Verizon and still waiting for availability. We all know you buy the network first then the phone so there are THOUSANDS like me just waiting for availability. Of course many (some of my friends and family) have left the waiting line and have or are about to jump to another OS since it is or will be available in February. The wait really is annoying at this point. :-(
  • Actually, even NPD pointed that fact out. We didn't emphasize it because, well, it's pretty well known around here ;-)
  • I blame this on both Microsoft and the Carriers. There are many stories out there (and I can also vouch their validity) that sales associates in the Carrier stores don't even know what WP7 really is, or even know it's name. They are pushing Andriod or fruit phones. Proper training will go a long way to building not just the base, but the longevity of the platform.
  • Considering Verizon is the largest carrier here in the US, and it is not available, and one of the popular phone designs, the Venue Pro, can't seem to make it to market, it is not surprising at all. When they are talking about Android, are they talking about when it went mass-market, or when it was the original G1 device from T-Mobile?
  • Funny how so many seem to be pinning their hopes on Verizon, when in all actuality WP7 wont get as much of a boost as they would like, considering they now have the iphone which they will be promoting heavily and also a strong lineup of android phones. WP7 just wont make an impact on VZW as expected.
  • Seeing that Windows Mobile had a huge base, I don't see how anyone expect WP7 to pass it in two months. Let's look at this report at the end of this year. Then lets talk.
  • I would not make anything about these numbers as they do not even represent a full quarter's worth of market offering. Unlike ALL the other platforms that they are comparing to.They did not mention it, but I wonder if someone has information on whether or not the debut numbers they were comparing to for Android and WebOS were mid-quarter numbers or numbers from a full quarter of being on the market.I just have this silly thing where I need information, and comparisons to be valid before I consider them relevant.
  • Actually market share is the share of sales for the quarter, while the other number is installed base ie how many devices are out there.Windows Mobile installed base is about 8%. Its Market share in the last quarter was 4%
  • OK... I think there is a valid point here. MS has to win over the consumers to get the pundits, critics, and manufacturers who are either skeptical or never tried the OS. MS tried to play it nice, but what they need to do here is "DROP THE BOMB"! They should1. Fire the Marketing Team who has done a horrible job promoting the OS and get the team that promoted Kinect. They did a great job and it shows in the sales numbers.2 (and here is the bomb) Give away a 4GB XBox 360 with every purcahse of a Windows Phone and a 2 year contract.Here's why. MS wants users into their ecosystem more than anything. MS probably only makes about $30-$60(If that much) on each 4GB Console which sells for 199; however, if a person gets a Zune Pass and an XBox Live Gold account, its a total of $210 a year, and more than likely they will subscribe for at least 2. In addition to the up front sale, if you add in Games, Apps, Videos, and other purchases for accessories, you can expect that your average gamer will spend about $400 over the next 3 years of ownership of the Xbox 360. On the marketing front, you couldn't beat the publicity that giving them away would get you. Word of mouth would spread, and soon, you'd be knocking on the doors of Apple and Google with sales numbers.The main thing that keeps Apple fans loyal is that they don't think they can port their music library to Zune. Make it simple for them and make it apparent that they have unlimited music with the Zune service, and that they get 10 free songs to keep a month and you'll have people flocking in droves to the platform.Once People start using these services, MS would build a loyal following.There are days when I don't understand why MS doesn't do this. It makes all of the sense in the world to me and the people I talk to. 3. Chances are that if you got a free XBox 360, you'd go get a Kinect and then you get that market buying those games as well. 4-8 Games a year at 15-20 bucks for licensing isn't bad either. Then you would have Apple, Sony, Nintendo, and Google quaking in their boots. Of course you'd have to deal with anti-trust issues, but worry about that when you've shut down Apple again. Its all about the ecosystem.
  • This should be a big deal to anyone that is a fan of WP7. The comparison to Android is spot on. When Android was first released, it was on ONE device on the smallest of the major US carriers, it was somewhat feature poor compared to WM and iPhone at the time, yet it still managed to gain more market share than WP7 has. As a WM fan for years, it's pretty disappointing to see how far Microsoft has let things go. Let's examine the outlook for 2012. Honestly, we all know Microsoft needs to catch up to obtain relevance. However, so far all we have heard is that limited copy & paste is coming soon, and an updated browser is due later this year. Do any of you REALLY think this is going to allow MS to catch up? Do you REALLY think if they hired Apple's marketing team, market share would instantly grow by 20%?Microsoft is pushing basically a feature phone OS, that requires high-end hardware. LG basically said so recently. AND the hardware is still inferior to many, many high-end Android devices. Where is the 4.3" 32 GB, LTE toting WP7? In the last month we've seen numerous announcements of next generation Android devices, yet nothing on the WP front. The device manufacturers aren't putting their best foot forward with WP7 because MS has NOT put forth an OS that will take advantage of it and attract customers. Development and upgrades of the OS still appear to be moving at a snails pace.Microsoft has admitted they must play catch-up, yet, they have shown zero inclination to push the envelope and accelerate the development cycle. They pushed the product to market early, not by getting things done, but by cutting features.