Microsoft on Windows Phone 7: "We're in it for the long run"

Microsoft on Windows Phone 7: "We're in it for the long run"

Summary: Microsoft is finally ready to talk about numbers for its Windows Phone 7 platform, announcing that 1.5 million devices have been sold in the first six weeks. But those numbers need a bit more parsing than usual.

SHARE:

Microsoft is finally ready to talk about numbers for its Windows Phone 7 platform. But the numbers they've released need a bit more parsing than usual.

My colleague Mary Jo Foley already picked up the eye-catching number that Microsoft wants to see in headlines: More than 1.5 million Windows Phone 7s sold to date. That number comes from an "interview" with Achim Berg, Microsoft’s vice president of business and marketing for Windows Phones, published on the Microsoft News Center.

Here's the full quote:

Sales are ramping well as our reputation is growing for offering users a unique experience and are in line with our expectations – especially when compared to other new platform introductions. With a new platform you have to look at a couple of things, first of all customer satisfaction. As I mentioned before, we’ve seen great response on the complete mobile phone experience.

Another is phone manufacturer sales – phones being bought and stocked by mobile operators and retailers on their way to customers. We are pleased that phone manufacturers sold over 1.5 million phones in the first six weeks, which helps build customer momentum and retail presence. [emphasis added]

Had this interview been conducted by an actual journalist, you might have seen a follow-up question here: How many of those phones have been activated by customers? That's the real metric for market share—Google, for example, now claims that it is activating 300,000 new Android devices a day—and it's telling that Microsoft isn't sharing that number. If those phones aren't flying out of the stores, then it could be a classic case of channel stuffing.

(And directly comparing Windows Phone 7 sales to the original iPhone isn't that easy. Because Apple sold the first iPhone model directly to its customers, they didn't have to worry about he channel. Still, it's worth noting that it took 74 days for the original iPhone to hit 1 million units sold, back in 2007.)

I don't want to dismiss these new numbers completely, because they do represent a serious commitment on the part of carriers and retailers to buy and stock and sell the phones. And a key part of Microsoft's strategy is to get those devices out into the world so potential customers can try them out. As Berg notes:

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.  Our opportunity is to make sure people get to play with a Windows Phone. Once they do, they love it. This is very important for us.

Ultimately, Microsoft wants this story to be about momentum. Developers are building apps for the new platform, customers who try it are loving it, and—most importantly of all—it has a future. Berg uses the "long run" phrase twice in this press release:

We know we have tough competition, and this is a completely new product. We’re in the race – it’s not a sprint but we are certainly gaining momentum and we’re in it for the long run.

Indeed, the 1.5 million number is most significant as an expression of confidence on the part of carriers worldwide. But we won't be able to judge whether that momentum has reached takeoff velocity until Microsoft begins to talk about activations.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Telcos, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

137 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

    Didn't Apple sell something like 2 million phones in its first three days of sales. So much for Ballmer's iPhone killer. Can't help but wonder how much longer he'll be allowed at the helm of Microsoft.
    gtdworak
    • Check your facts

      @gtdworak

      It took Apple 74 days to sell 1 million first-generation iPhones. I've added a link to that figure in an update to this post.
      Ed Bott
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        @Ed Bott <br><br>And it took Android almost a year, right?<br><br>Numbers can be manipulated though... as we all know. The reality is that if you gave a group of people unmarked phones... and let them play with them for awhile... I'm very confident that a plurality would choose WP7 over iOS & Android. iOS was cool when it was introduced. It was even cool a year ago. But, next to WP7... it just seems kind of dated... like the click wheel.
        empirestatebuddy
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        @empirestatebuddy The numbers are manipulated...Microsoft sold 1.5 million phones to OEM CARRIERS, not consumers...rumors are that they have actually only sold 100,000 phones to consumers since launch.
        cyberslammer2
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        @All

        The rumors cyberslammer2 is referring to start and end in his own mind.
        rtk
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        @Ed Bott
        And how many did MS give to employees?
        balsover
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        @Ed Bott The number of iPhones sold in 2007 is about as relevant as how many C64 computers were sold in the 80's. The numbers should be compared to what their competitors are selling in today's market, that includes both the current Android and iPhone models. How many of those WM7 phones did MS give away to employees and how many of those WM7 phones are just people that had WM6.x phones and upgrading. People upgrading doesn't increase the market share. There are just as many people out there that will buy the latest and greatest from MS even if it is worthless as there are Apple people that do the same with Apple products. Until someone shows a real increase in market share I will not be impressed.
        balsover
      • but unfortunately for MS it's not 2007 anymore...

        @Ed Bott.. lots has changed since then.. like the smartphone market has exploded and comparing 2007 numbers to 2010 numbers is quite idiotic to say they least.. it's now 2010... Apple sold 1.7 million iPhone 4 in 3 days.. that's the mountain that MS needs to climb in 2010.. even if they had actually sold 1.5 million in a month and a half that's would still have been a huge mountain to climb..

        but kudos to yourself and Mary Joe for actually stating the facts.. that this number is not reflective of consumer demand.. it is as you say indicative of carrier confidence in the platform.. but when you compare it to the competition.. it took six weeks for them to do the average that the competition to do in 5days.. and that's not even at introduction.. just day to day numbers.. MS has a huge hill to climb to say the least..
        doctorSpoc
      • rtk, I'm sure cyberslammers next post will be that

        runor has it Apple actually sold 8 million Apple TV's and that Kinect really only hit 20,000 in sales.

        Some people like him are scared of everything. Go figure.
        John Zern
      • Sorry, but the first generation meme doesn't hold here

        The iPhone created a new category of phone (as a fun exercise, do a before/after image search of smart phones/feature phones). Android and Winmobile 7 phones are copycats. They don't get the first generation break.
        frgough
      • I heard the number was a lot less

        that rumor has it 50000 of the phones have been returned already so sales figures are really ALOT less!!
        Ron Bergundy
      • 1 million iPhone on ONE carrier. WP7 on 60 carriers in 30 countries!!

        @Ed Bott <br><br>"It took Apple 74 days to sell 1 million first-generation iPhones."<br><br>iPhone launched on one carrier in one country.
        Wp7 launched on 60 carriers in 30 countries!
        <br><br>WP7 launched with a 500 million ad budget (equal to Apple's TOTAL iphone, iPod, Mac, iTunes, Apple Store etc Ad budget of 2009) <br>Engadget: "1.5 million units is a tiny, tiny number when you consider the platform launched on 10 devices on over 60 carriers in over 30 countries."<br><br>Also 1.5m units has given Msft (estimating avg Win 6 fees of around $15) a whopping $22.5 million gross. (minus a 500 m ad budget and R&D .... )<br>For 1.5 m iPhones Apple would have made close to a Billion dollars. (500-750 per phone).
        Davewrite
      • In defense of Ed...

        Guys, to be fair, Ed did mention that some channel stuffing may be going on. To wit: "and it?s telling that Microsoft isn?t sharing that number. If those phones aren?t flying out of the stores, then it could be a classic case of channel stuffing."

        And someone asked how many MSFT sold internally... I'm thinking they're not allowed to count those (it'd be a few dozen thousand anyway, IIRC). That said, I remember Dell saying tehy were going to buy a big clot of 'em.

        I'm not exactly Ed's biggest fan, but let's give him at least a little credit this go 'round.
        Random_Walk
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        @Ed Bott

        If you're going to demand a respondent checks their facts, maybe you should qualify your repost. In 2007 the market for smartphones was fairly new, and the market for smartphones with touch screens was virtually nonexistent. That Prada offering doesn't really count.

        In the intervening three years the market has matured. So comparing Microsoft's alleged sales of 1.5m WP7 phones to resellers [in a mature market] should not be compared with Apple's actual sales of the first iPhone [in a completely new market] to real end users.

        But your thinly disguised skepticism in your article is applauded here. The quoted comments are nothing more than brash PR from MS, and utterly meaningless in real terms, yet hugely telling in respect to what they don't tell us.

        If MS had real results to report, as Apple and Google apparently do, they would release them. They haven't, so they don't. This is further proof that MS is the third player in this game.

        Having said that, market share is not even a 1990s concept worth chasing. It was wrong even two decades before that. Yet so many companies still chase this mythical status, as if it's an end in itself - something to aspire to. Market share is a by-product of getting a lot of other things right, most notably customer satisfaction, which in turn is a by-product of getting the user experience right.

        Serious revenue also needs to be derived from the process, although MS can't hope to come close to Apple with their device ownership and eight revenue streams.

        The by-product of getting all this right is profits - and again, MS will have serious difficulty competing. So I guess fanciful numbers must sustain them.
        Graham Ellison
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        On cyberslammer2's point - Microsoft is the master of numbers manipulation when it comes to that sort of thing. As most people that follow the video game system sales thing know, Microsoft included the warranty replacement units within it's XBox 360 sales figures, where Nintendo and Sony only included retail sales within their tallies for all of their systems. What's to say that Microsoft wouldn't try to hide the truth that only a couple more people are buying Windows Phone 7?

        How about a real metric of how well Windows Phone 7 is doing - I want app store figures.
        nix_hed
      • Davewrite don't tell half-truths???

        your convienently leaving out how apples ad budjet works compared to other vendors - Apple DOESN'T count the cost of APPLE instore advertising or training as the other companies have to because they don't have store of their own.

        or do you want us to believe that apple employees are born with the nowledge and that the instore ads just magically appear??

        If they did count that then of course the numbers would be higher and you would be too scared to say anything.

        sorry the truth hurts but that life.
        Ron Bergundy
      • cyberspammer2

        @cyberspammer2

        Your post is totally confusing.

        what is "Apple DOESN'T count the cost of APPLE instore advertising or training as the other companies have to because they don't have store of their own. "

        Apple does have hundreds of Apple stores...

        ????
        Davewrite
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        @Ed Bott

        And Microsoft has the cash to buy time to gain market share as they expand their trifecta of xbox-smartphone-tablet/mobile computing.
        James-SantaBarbara
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        @Ed Bott

        Well maybe I can get my WP7 device activated if Dell ever gets it to me. Still waiting on my Dell Venue Pro that was supposed to have been delivered last Friday. Its now supposed to arrive on Dec 24 and I'll activate it as soon as it soon as it arrives.

        This all makes me wonder how much manufacturers and retailers are affecting WP7s ability to sell. Dell fumbled the launch of the Venue Pro miserably and T-Mobile has made little effort to promote the one device they do have.

        So, what kind of impact do these issues have on adoption of the platform?
        NPGMBR
      • RE: Microsoft on Windows Phone 7:

        @Ed Bott How long did it take to sell the 7th generation iPhone? Because this is Windows Phone [{-7-}].
        symbolset