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Windows Phone 7 Actually Manages To Lose Market Share

We couldn't make this stuff up. Nobody could. Despite the savior of Microsoft's mobile "strategy" appearing not to be a complete disaster (as we thought it would be), Windows Phone 7 actually lost market share for Microsoft at the end of last year.

Yes, that's right. The knight in shining armor that rode in on its mighty steed and relegated the old Windows Mobile platform to the scrap heap of history turned out to be more of a peasant tottering around on a mule. The latest numbers from comScore, the organization of the atrociously capitalized name that tracks these sorts of things, indicate that Microsoft's market share has fallen since Windows Phone 7 hit devices last fall.

OK, now for the requisite caveats. Windows Phone 7 only hit the market in late October in Europe and in early November in the United States. Some of the time period in comScore's January 2011 numbers includes the old Windows Mobile era, then. And, to be fair, Windows Phone 7 is brand-new. Said Microsoft official Achim Berg of the share numbers:

"We introduced a new platform with Windows Phone 7, and when you do that it takes time to educate partners and consumers on what you're delivering, and drive awareness and interest in your new offering. We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run; Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning."

Yeah, OK, fine. But really, losing market share right out of the gate? With all the press coverage and the TV ads and whatnot? It's not exactly building momentum, is it? One wonders whether Stephen Elop, former Microsoft executive and now CEO of Nokia (yes, it's still in business) is reconsidering his decision to stiff-arm Google and instead partner with Microsoft and Windows Phone 7. (Actually, he might not be, given that Microsoft is apparently forking over $1 billion to Nokia as part of the deal.)

Up at the top of the standings, Google's Android platform took over at No. 1 for the first time, displacing RIM and the BlackBerry mobile OS. Down in third place is Apple, which, despite the hype the iPhone constantly gets, boasts "only" about 25 percent market share. Microsoft isn't even really an also-ran at this point, though, as its 8 percent share (down from 9.7 percent in the pre-WP7 era) has it much closer to Palm than to third-place Apple.

We're not sure what -- if anything -- is wrong with Windows Phone 7, but technology moves quickly, especially in the mobile world. Android has rocketed up the market-share table over the last few years. If Windows Phone 7 is going to do the same thing, it's going to have to do it from a big hole that it has dug itself in its first few months of existence. We can't really see why users would adopt Microsoft's mobile OS en masse, so low market share might be a continuing condition. But falling market share? That's just embarrassing -- and borderline unbelievable.

What's your take on Windows Phone 7? Have you considered buying a WP7 device? Have your say at

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/07/2011 at 1:23 PM

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Reader Comments:

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 Gerald

I’ll give you a big reason why WP7 in its current incarnation will not succeed: Microsoft isn’t listening to what their customers WANT. Anyone who has stuck with Windows Mobile this long (myself included – I’ve been with Win Mobile since at least version 3) wants seamless synchronization with Outlook. People who use older Windows phones generally run a Microsoft shop and we’re comfortable with that. WP7 will NOT synchronize with Outlook. You need to adopt Microsoft’s “cloud” model, which means you need to be willing to send all of your personal data over to a Microsoft server. This is a BIG turnoff for people like me, who have stuck with Microsoft all these years. I in fact contacted Microsoft on this issue, told them what a long-time Windows Mobile user I was, and giving my reasons for NOT wanting to use their “cloud” model (incidentally, all old Windows Mobile phones, as well as all iPhones, Android phones, Blackberries and Nokia phones can ALL synchronize with Outlook, ONLY wP7 phones cannot). I got a very terse reply from Microsoft to the effect that (I’m paraphrasing but it was really about this blunt) “This topic has been done to death. Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 are different products. Read up on it”. I thought that was VERY bad customer service/relations from a company that puts “we listen to our customers” on the WP7 website. So on one hand you get the die-hard Windows people like myself who WILL NOT buy WP7 because it lacks a key feature, and on the other hand you get the trendy people who won’t buy WP7 just because they want an Apple product, and what you have is lose-lose.

Fri, Mar 18, 2011

I lost interest in windows mobile phones since microsoft is forcing people to upgrade. Example bing is only available on newer phones and stop working on older phones, zume will only work with WP7, and developers stopped making apps because of this change from wm6 to wp7. And why would anyone with current wm5 or wm6 phone buy a wp7 and find apps might not work and future apps not be available anymore. I still have wm6 phone since I have expensive apps on it, but most likely will switch to android when contract is done.

Mon, Mar 14, 2011

Because something was released 3 years earlier doesn't mean that the market is closed to any new products, the auto industry is a case in point. Language space also evolves, Objective C is fine but so is C, C#, Java, PERL, PHP, Python, VB.Net etc. I don't believe in a one prod fits all, and would be bored to tears if that were the case.

Sat, Mar 12, 2011 Jono NZ

Where is the unlike button?

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 James OR

WP7 is a 3 year late in features and time to market. As usual, instead of focusing on innovative differences for users, MS pours its energy into "me-too" features and toy technologies of their hon-cho. (What's up with that F# language). Apple use Objective-C since 90s', they do not put valuable resource on Objective-F or some silly languages. No wonder they lose market share.

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 Tom

I think the title of this article is quite misleading. The source report only indicates that according to 'comScore MobiLens', that the 'MICROSOFT' smartphone plaform subscribers decreased by 1.7%. It does NOT say that Windows Phone 7 decreased by that amount. In other words this questionable number does not differentiate between existing Windows MOBILE platforms (e.g. WM 5.x, 6.x) and the totally different Windows PHONE 7 platform which was released to the US market about 5 months ago. Nor does it provide any indication of global figures for WP7. So for my purposes this value is fairly useless information and serves only to perhaps sway the uninformed. Unfortunately as is usually the case, many news outlets have jumped on the wagon and are making similiar statements. If anything kills off WP7, it's going to be things like this.

Tue, Mar 8, 2011

WP7 devt cycle was about a year (very rapid) and not everything can be done in a year. GSM was likely chosen for the initial release because most of the world uses GSM rather than CDMA, so it makes perfect sense. Kin was not a bad phone for what it was meant for, but Verizon chose to offer only a $30 plan, which in my opinion effectively killed the product for its intended audience and cleared the way for it's Android line. People in the carrier stores do seem to have little to no interest in selling WP7. While I've found this seems to be out of personal bias or ignorance about the product, it may also be due in part to Android not having a license fee, and so the handsets can procured by the carrier cheaper (seems the world only wants 'cheap' these days). It's true that Android has no baseline restriction on the hw and so anything goes, from great to garbage (just like the previous WinMob model). Yes WP7 has app market restrictions but is this necesarily a bad thing? I think not. It helps to help ensure the quality of the apps available (e.g. note the proliferation of malware infected apps in the Android market now). How many developers have found the WP7 marketplace too restrictive? And if so state exactly why? Yes there are some features that do not yet exist on WP7, but these are coming. And these are just FEATURES and do not indicate that the platform itself is bad. Before anyone says WP7 is a failure why not visit and see for yourself how easy it is to develop apps for it, and then compare this to other platforms. And you don't need WP7 hw to start, you can just use the built in emulator provided with the free tools. This is a version 1 product so give it time (at least a couple of years) before saying it failed and proliferating rumours.

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 JustAdded

Windows phone is a sucess in my opinion. Microsft made few mistakes and those mistakes must be corrected. 1) it should be able to connect to phone cannot be stand alone device. 2) The speaker phone is purely designed expecially on htc hd7 phones and it should be fixed asap.

Tue, Mar 8, 2011

You would think that "journalists" would report on digital happenings with a somewhat of a fair stance. Not Lee Pender. He's someone's fanboi. What the "F" is wrong with you. Have you seen other statisitics? How about taking the average score of a few reports and see what you come up with? I get it. You use THE most negative one you can find and report on that. Fanboi with a capital "F"!

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 Hannah T

It is now obvious to everyone that Windows Phone 7 has failed. It is going backwards. It is not going to make it. Headed on its current trajectory to failure, the losers are going to be consumers who buy Windows Phone 7 handsets, only to see the platform cancelled. We saw it with Microsoft's previous Sidekick and Kin phones. Services and support were discontinued a few months after the platforms' failure. Now Windows Phone 7 has gone the same way.

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 Patrick NY

Didn't help that MS froze out the nation's largest carrier. I held off replacing my Blackberry hoping and wishing an announcement would be forthcoming of a Win 7 Phone on Verizon but it didn't happen. Very happy with Verizon and enjoying my Android phone. Not real sure why MS chose to align with the same carrier marketing the iPhone. One can imagine the typical sales pitch in your local AT&T store...

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 Doug Steinschneider CT

I had a lot of fun burning much improved ROM's onto HTC phones during my windows mobile phase which lasted from 2004 when I retired my last Treo until Sep 2010 when I bought a Droid X. During that time period I marveled that Microsoft didn't get touch navigation. Software vendors did and you get just about eliminate the need for the stylus by using launchers and replacement apps like PocketInformant. I decided not to wait for Windows Phone 7 when I discovered that MS was emulating Apple with app market restrictions and over simplified user interface. Since then my decision has been verified as I deploy Windows Phone 7 for customers, I'm always looking for non existent settings like default email font size. The Android OS is Windows Mobile with everything fixed.

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 Danj atlanta

I have the Samsung focus and am enjoying it. I am partial to Zune and have both devices and have no major problems. So far no complaints and I'd complain loudly if there were. I believe the marketing of Zune and Wp7 has really sucked. Sure the TV ads are ok, but when you walk into store and no one seems to interested in selling you a Wp 7 phone,then this device will continue to lack serious m.share. No matter how good I think it is, sales people have to want to sell it and show some enthusiasm.

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