Windows Phone 7 sales, the echo chamber and why it doesn't matter

Much like how technically the number of applications in the Marketplace doesn't really matter (though you can glean some info from it), how well Microsoft did or did not do on Monday,  in terms of raw sales, seems to be a moot a point in the long run. Unless of course you're looking to ask rhetorical questions for major publications. Such was the case yesterday where lots of headlines were phrased "Was the launch a bust?" "Did it underwhelm?" "Is it really a huge success?" etc.

Fact is, we don't know, they don't know and no one will know for awhile. This is understood by everyone. Citing anonymous sources who claim to know that "40,000" devices were sold was passed around as evidence, trumpeting headlines despite not knowing the authenticity of the claim. It's the equivalent of journalist trolling (the use of "?" is always a sure sign). Sure, there were very few lines if any. Sure it was a Monday (launches do better on Fridays) and we now know that stock was quite low (here and here), not even lasting the day at a lot of AT&T and T-Mobile stores (we heard reports of anywhere from 2 to 12 Samsung Focuses per retail outlet).

Did anyone really expect iPhone like masses to appear? No. The only thing to consider is that Microsoft is in this for the long run. This is day #1 of what will be a multi-year process. Two things to remember about Microsoft: they have lots of money and they are suborn when committed to entering a market. Lets revisit this six months from now where adoption rates will be better understood, where the OS has had a chance to build public awareness and real figures make their rounds, shall we? Yes, it's fun to speculate, but everyone in this business knows one day tells you very little e.g. the Palm Pre sold very well for Sprint its first day, fast forward one year and they're sold to HP.

But instead of going further, I could just refer you to Devindra Hardawar's piece at MobileBeat which does a much better job of making these points.

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.

  • Thats because these journalists and bloggers are looking through the world with an apple prism, expecting throngs of the faithful to show up, and apple well known for its showmanship to make a big deal out of the event.
  • I think its sad the way people keep making excuses for MS's continued incompetence in the mobile space. They dont have to have iphone like sales but they could and should have a decent showing. After all, as is always pointed out, this is supposedly Microsoft that doesnt give up, is there anything that says they cant start strong as well as run a strong race? Do people think just because "they are Microsoft" the competition wont up their game in the future as well? Bottom line, they fluffed it, even after what happened with the October launch, they managed to have an exact repeat of what happened. Rather than try and explain it away maybe we should take a long, hard look at MS and determine if they really are capable of staying in this market for the long haul.
  • The only competition right now and in the future is iPhone and Android. Symbian? Going down. HP Palm? Going down. RIM? Going down. Even if there were tons of lines yesterday, the stock simply wasn't there, so they couldn't have gone big if they wanted. The carriers and OEMs are taking a "wait and see" approach. So let them wait and see. Like I said, I'm more interested in six months from now than what happened Monday.
  • MS can't force the carriers to order more, and they can't force the OEMs to make more. Those two things are at play here, and they're out of MS's control. Why you seem to think otherwise is odd to me, strong demand as we've seen show up will thus push the OEMs to make more and the carriers to order more, it's that simple. If you go into a AT&T shop and they don't have supply when there's a clear demand for it who's to blame? MS doesn't make the devices, MS doesn't ship the devices either, this isn't the Xbox. Why MS gets flack for shortages is crazy, lay blame where it's due. The OEMs are stuck so far up Android's rear they didn't care enough to make sure enough WP7 devices got out, plain and simple.
  • Obviously you are right, but at the end of the day this is MS's OS and if their partners are incapable of providing the required devices for sale or dont have enough confidence in the product MS should think about doing it themselves. At this rate WP7 could have no sales at all, are investors going to call for the head of HTC or Microsoft? Wouldnt this be part of discussions MS would have with its partners, before deciding on a launch date? You cant just selectively apportion blame, at the end of the day if customers are left unable to buy a device all the parties involved are to blame to some extent.
  • I disagree with "Lets revisit this six months from now where adoption rates will be better understood..." I think the earliest to revisit this is one year, AT LEAST.
    It seems to me Microsoft is not even expecting to be real player in the market until the next version, maybe 1-2 years from now. I think they are planning to have gained significant market share 3-4 years from now, after they have fully implemented all the "enterprise features."
    In my opinion, the OS is super nice and elegant but has no depth/features. Shoot, it doesn't even have task syncing with exchange. No categories for contacts. No contact searching while dialing. The list goes on... But the minimalist OS is striking, very elegant, and just works well, especially for being brand new. I think it is just a start, but a good one.
  • I think you're off with that timetable. I doubt it'll be 2 years from now before we see WP8, they are fully aware of what they're missing and are already working on updates. With a good chunk of things probably coming in that first update in January we could be talking about WP8 this time next year. Sure they're thinking ahead in this market which makes sense but they're not going to stick Windows Phone OS updates on the same 2-3 year update cycle desktop Windows has imo.
  • I just got a email from clove for my dell venue pro and they've just been told by Dell that they're not going to be getting any till JANUARY! So who's at fault here? MS? I don't think so. Dell can't make enough or has some sorta manufacturing problem that held them back so now I have to wait. That's fine though, I can wait, by the time I get it MS will have their first big update ready with copy & paste and whatever else they drop in.
  • Dude...GP07, email me next time with that info, lol. [Contact --> Tips]
  • So Microsoft is willing to bribe or otherwise induce someone to commit an unlawful act such as perjury to support WP7? Daniel - proofreading is essential.
  • if MS make starting making their own phone, vendors are going to file a anti-trust suit; if they [vendors] don't MS should also go into the business of making their own PC instead of relying on dell, hp, Toshiba, etc ...
  • I would love to see a Windows Phone modeled after the Zune HD. I won't hold my breath for Microsoft to do it but hopefully when the OEMs are willing to invest more resources in Windows Phone, we will see a phone that's on par with the Zune HD - hardware that's beautiful, well-built and speaks the same design language as the OS.
  • So when the Evo and Incredible ran short, were we supposed to blame Android? I think MS nailed it with this OS and it is surely not their fault that the carriers/OEM's did not forecast properly. What's more, there are screen shortages for all smartphones and iPhone and Android phones get priority because of sheer volume. OEM's have dealt with WinMo being last for so long, why would they give that OS a bump in priority? I agree with Daniel (weird, I'm so used to calling you Mal) in that it will take some time to determine adoption once more phones are made and in the marketplace. Good job Microsoft, and you may have pulled me back from Android.
  • I think it's unfair and inane to expect the Windows Phone launch to resemble that of the iPhone. A number of factors are different - the size and fervor of the "fan" base, the willingness to do an early upgrade, the fact that Apple is the manufacturer, the amount of Apple retail stores, the fact that only one device on one carrier is involved, the maturity of the OS and the amount of hype, etc. However, it must also be acknowledged that there is a wide gulf between an iPhone-level launch and the launch that Windows Phones has experienced. With Windows Phone, stores that only have a few models aren't even seeing proportionate demand. When I purchased my Windows Phone yesterday, I was the first customer who had even inquired about it. And this is at a store near the downtown area, that also has a pretty good concentration of tech-savvy people. Additionally, while others have pointed out the factors that Microsoft doesn't have control over, let's take into account those factors which they do have control over. The advertising isn't compelling. Their PR failed to get any of the major media outlets to merely mention the launch (as far as I could tell). Their "premier partner" is showcasing models that are devoid of content and not connected to the internet. I expected that they would at least be set up with a dummy account. (Technically, ATT is to blame for that but I think Microsoft should be held partially responsible). The very premise of Windows Phone means that the phone will not sell itself - a potential customer needs to see the richness and integration of content to "get it", not just empty tiles and a few apps on uninspired hardware. I do think it's more sensible and informative to take a long-term view of Windows Phone's success. It's also imperative to realize that even when you step outside of the "tech bubble", "reality distortion field" or whatever you wish to call it, the launch does seem underwhelming. I have yet to read Devindra's article but it doesn't surprise me that he's a voice of reason on this topic, as he often occupies that role on the /FFilmcast. lol
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