Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 appears to have got off to a reasonable start, with Orange offering £20 HMV vouchers to customers who will have to wait for their phone. However, this was not wholly unexpected. Mobile Today has reported that before the launch last month, Orange emailed stores to say:
"We will be launching with limited amounts of both our Windows Phone 7 devices, the HTC 7 Mozart and the Samsung Omnia 7. We are, however, anticipating that our competitors could be in a similar situation."
Today, in HTC WP7 smartphones selling well in Europe, Australia, say Taiwan makers, Taiwan's DigiTimes reports that:
"HTC is seeing better than expected sales for its Microsoft Windows Phone 7 (WP7) smartphones in Europe and Australia, with the HD7 introduced by O2 in Germany and 7 Mozart by Telestra in Australia selling out of stock already, according to Taiwan-based handset makers."
However, the report also warns that: "Strong initial sales are typically supported by curious early adopters and loyal consumers of the device vendors. It is still difficult to judge how well the operating system will do in the general market, the handset makers noted."
Rather than launching in one country or one region, Microsoft released Windows Phone 7 through 60 carriers in 30 countries and in five languages. This should be expected to stretch limited supplies. There's also a large pent-up demand from developers in many countries who are eager to start developing WP7 apps in Silverlight. Microsoft partly addressed this by giving phones to the 30,000 developers who attended its Professional Developers Conference held on Microsoft's Redmond campus last week, ahead of the platform's US launch. (Paying attendees were given a retail LG Optimus 7, and non-paying attendees a pre-production Samsung Taylor, says TFTS. Last year, they got a Windows 7 laptop.)
WP7 phones should also appeal to businesses, because of their easy integration with Microsoft Office and SharePoint servers, and the ease with which apps can be created using Visual Studio and free Microsoft development tools. It seems likely that the number of WP7 apps will overtake the number of iPhone apps, though most of the WP7 apps may be in-house programs that are invisible to consumers. Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business president Andy Lees tells me that corporate apps can be deployed via the nascent WP7 Marketplace using "deep linking" and password protection, but Microsoft would consider other options if the need arose.
In July, Lees also told Microsoft staff that they would all be given a free WP7 phone and, in a memo published at TechFlash, said: "In addition, we've introduced a new employee developer program which makes it much easier for you to develop apps for Marketplace in your spare time."
Because Windows Phone 7 software integrates with most of Microsoft's major properties -- as Lees says, "Windows, Windows Live, Bing, Zune, Xbox Live, Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Silverlight, .NET, XNA and Visual Studio" -- many of Microsoft's programmers will already have been involved.