Windows Phone 7 Limps Out of Gate
Windows Phone 7 is officially on sale to consumers, and the early returns have to be a little disappointing for Microsoft. The Street is reporting that a market research source that tracks phone sales estimated that about 40,000 phones were sold on Nov. 8, the first day of availability.
It doesn't help that Microsoft has mostly kept quiet since then about sales figures for the successor to its Windows Mobile platform, leading to more speculation of lagging sales. For example, at its most recent shareholder meeting Tuesday, CEO Steve Ballmer refused to cite sales numbers for the phone. Microsoft is "off to a great start with Windows Phone 7," Ballmer was quoted as saying, adding that "it marks the beginning, we think, of a new era in smart phones. The response has been really fantastic," said Ballmer.
He had no reservations about touting the figures for Kinect, the new motion controller for its Xbox 360 game system, however. The stark difference in treatment between the two products has only added to the speculation about Windows Phone 7's lukewarm reception by the market.
It's much too premature to pronounce the new phone doomed, however. The Christmas shopping frenzy is almost here, and Microsoft worked hard to get the phone out in time for shoppers to pounce. In addition, Microsoft has built a healthy developer ecosystem around Windows Phone, one of the keys to a mobile platform's success. According to the site FierceDeveloper, more than 12,000 developers had registered with Microsoft to get their apps into the store.
Microsoft remains far behind chief smartphone rivals Apple and Google, with the iOS and Android platforms currently dominating the market and expected to continue the domination into the future. But you have to start somewhere, and this is just the start for Microsoft. The market for smartphones is huge and growing, with room for more devices. If Microsoft can get some momentum with a plethora of solid apps behind it, it could make inroads in a hurry.