As reported by MobileTechWorld earlier this week, Microsoft is touting International Data Corp. (IDC) numbers that show 30 million Windows Phone 7 devices being sold by the end of 2011.
That's a pretty ambitious goal (to say the least). The first generation of Windows Phone 7 handsets won't ship until the end of calendar 2010. And in the most recent quarter, Windows Mobile was down to 6.8 percent of the worldwide mobile operating system market, in terms of share. (Symbian still rules the roost with 44 percent; Blackberry OS has 19 percent and the iPhone OS, 15 percent.)
Update: AllThingsDigital is reporting that IDC says their numbers were characterized incorrectly by Microsoft. IDC predicts there will be 32 million Windows Phones (both WP7 and Windows Mobile 6.x models) sold by 2011. But who in his/her right mind is still going to buy a WM 6.x phone (which is not backward-compatible with WP7) as of this fall? Hair splitting aside, I think IDC is still saying that Microsoft is going to sell close to 30 million WP7 devices as of 2011.
I was interested to hear from MobileTechWorld's Makram Daou more details on where Microsoft is expecting all this growth to come. He was at the Paris ReMIX conference this week where Microsoft talked up the latest Windows Phone 7 projections.
Daou said the Softies are not necessarily counting on stealing share from Nokia, RIM, Apple or any of the Android handset vendors. Nor are they relying solely on the installed Windows Mobile phone base to upgrade to Windows Phone 7. Instead, Microsoft officials are claiming that the majority of the projected 30 million Windows Phone 7 devices to be current "feature phone" users who will be ready to upgrade to smartphones.
It's also worth noting that Microsoft is unlikely to make much money off licensing fees for the Windows Phone OS. Instead, Microsoft officials see Windows Phone 7 devices as being the conduit for much bigger sales of its still-unannounced cloud services for these phones (i.e., things like Xbox Live gaming, Zune music/video services, the successor to Microsoft My Phone, etc.) -- as well as mobile advertising revenues. (A related aside: There's talk Microsoft may be poised to cut the price of its ZunePass music subscription service from $15 a month to closer to $10.)
In the end, a lot of Windows Phone 7's uptake will depend on the carriers offering Windows Phone 7 devices. If the available data/service plans prohibitively expensive (a la Verizon with Kin), the quality of the Windows Phone 7 devices and apps will be moot.
That caveat aside, do you think Microsoft (and IDC) are smoking something when it comes to their Windows Phone 7 predictions? Or could you see Windows Phone 7 being good/different enough to attract brand-new low-end phone users.