Wall Street ratings firm casts doubt on NPD's early Windows 8 sales data

Wall Street ratings firm casts doubt on NPD's early Windows 8 sales data

Summary: Last month, a report by NPD suggested that Windows 8 was off to a disappointing start. But a leading credit-rating agency has publicly disputed that report, with an analysis that suggests external factors, including Hurricane Sandy, strongly affected early sales.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Windows 8

At the end of November, NPD garnered a few headlines with data suggesting that Windows 8 was struggling in the marketplace. (Sample from right here at ZDNet: "Windows 8 off to a slow start with consumers in month one, says NPD.")

Now a leading credit-rating agency has taken issue with those numbers.

Fitch Ratings, which is headquartered in New York and London, took the unusual step of publicly disputing the NPD data in a research report:

NPD PC Data May Not be Indicative of Windows 8 Demand

Fitch Ratings-New York-05 December 2012: Data indicating that U.S. retail sales of Microsoft-based PCs declined 21% year over year in the four weeks ended Nov. 17, 2012 does not provide an accurate view of demand for Windows 8, according to Fitch Ratings. The NPD Group data period actually starts five days before the launch of Windows 8 and includes one-off constraints, such as Hurricane Sandy and significant discounts on existing Windows 7 inventory, both of which reduced demand for PCs, particularly those with Windows 8.

The research report noted that Hurricane Sandy had an "adverse effect on PC demand" during the study period, noting that other retail sectors were hard hit as well:

Retail consumer spending overall, particularly for discretionary items such as PCs, was materially affected for at least several days following the storm, which hit just three days after the introduction of Windows 8. Aggregate same-store sales growth of only 1.6% for 17 large retailers in November, nearly 52% below analyst growth expectations, shows the storm's effects continued through the month.

The folks at Fitch should be painfully aware of Sandy's impact, as their New York City headquarters office was closed for a month in the wake of the storm and only reopened on November 29.

NPD's report suggested consumers were snapping up "excess inventory" of Windows 7 PCs, the Fitch report said, with many of those PCs containing "an older Intel processor (Sandy Bridge) and lower graphics capabilities."

There might be a silver lining for anyone watching Microsoft's Windows 8 performance, says Fitch. The ratings firm notes that the PC industry has "a strong pipeline of announced, but yet to be released PC products, particularly those with touchscreens."

If that analysis sounds familiar, well, perhaps it's because you read something very similar here earlier this week.

How are Windows 8 sales? It's still too early to tell.

Topics: Microsoft, Windows 8

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  • Touchscreens Will Be A Factor In Sales

    "...particularly those with touchscreens". We just got a Windows Store in our city and the look on people's face when they get to actually experience multi-touch on a PC or laptop is WOW! Windows 7 and older computers will definitely feel old when compared to a Windows 8 PC with 10 point multi-touch. I don't know if I'm alone on this but many times, instead of reaching for the mouse, I reach out and touch the screen. I still use the mouse for time when I need fine-point accuracy but I like having the choice of using my left or right hand for touch. It just seems that I'm much more productive now that I ever was before with any other computer.
    • Only takes about 1 minute before you try to touch a screen again

      on a non touch screen laptop and are disappointed that it doesn't respond and don't want to use it. MS has really nailed this well.
      Johnny Vegas
      • does not matter, the NPD is right

        M$ is trying to fudge the numbers using fake analysts.
        LlNUX Geek
        • "Fake analysts" founded in 1913

          Fitch was founded in 1913 and is one of three companies recognized by the SEC for corporate and government bond credit ratings.

          So yeah, Microsoft TOTALLY faked this.
          Ed Bott
          • Fitch...

            Was one of the companies that was rooked by the bond traders that caused the housing crisis and financial collapse in 08. So yeah, i have no FAITH in their ability to analyze ANYTHING!
          • The same with Gartner, IDC and other big analyst companies

            They are all wrong every time, but still making profits. I wonder.
            Ram U
          • They were wrong before

            Even if I agree with them this time, it's an interesting reading Fitch reports about Lemmon brothers hours before the collapse.
          • Who knows

            Maybe there will be actual snow in Singapore at Christmas too. Is there any word from other analysts on W8 or are you just cherry picking the one you like?
          • Yeah Fitch is right

            It's partly Sandy's fault but also is all those stupid, stupid consumers that keep buying, and buying millions and millions ipads. Really disgusting...

            Already happened, Katrina killed Zune and el Niño was responsible for the slow star of Vista...
          • Ha! Thanks!

            Having actually borne the brunt of Sandy (tree on house, fortunately roof survived), I don't see Sandy as being a huge impediment to Surface RT sales. NJ and NY shut down for a few days and MS' sales grind to a halt? I don't think so. There's no Microsoft stores at the shore anyway; the closest one to the coast is in Freehold, and that's not a beach town.

            In the end, this "doubt" is just generating ad hoc reasons to explain the undisputed facts from the other report. If there were real figures involving NJ and NY and other analysis to bolster the claim along with new facts (say, MS housing all their Surface tablets in a warehouse in Jersey) there'd be a case. Otherwise, this comes off as nothing wiser than what we get in the comments section here. :-)
            Mr. Bott may think it's "too early to tell", and maybe so, but there's still no indication that the result will be any different than forecast now when it is late enough to tell.
          • Ed...you missed this one.

            No check from Microsoft for you!
        • Non-conventional advertising points to a desperate attempt.

          Microsoft has to enlist prime time programs like NCIS LA to act as infomercials for Windows. Big payoffs there to have them constantly plug Windows Phone and Surface with the Metro interface at almost every turn. If that's not enough, they weaseled their way into the network promotions for other shows with Santa using the "touch" Metro interface to select options. All this does is hi-light how desperate Microsoft is to push their junk on the general population. With NCIS LA, they are providing subtle psychological propaganda to young children who are not able to discern that it's just advertising and there is no advantage to using Microsoft products in government agencies. That in particular is what Microsoft is best at, propaganda aimed at young adults and children.
          • Quality computer-centric programs like Person of Interest don't advertise.

            Quality programs like Person of Interest use computers and other devices but are careful to keep the manufacturer completely out the show. Cheesy Microsoft shows suffer tremendously by constantly hocking Microsoft wares. -- It becomes tiresome to watch and detracts quite a bit from the story.
          • Hey!

            Linux user here, but Microsoft gets extra credit from me from running a commercial with the producer of The Vampire Diaries during the program. :-)
          • you're right they look quite desperate

            going from low to low.

            The real problem: the only money coming from mobile is from Android. Any person can see how bad things are turning. Of course W8 represent the ultimate "coming to fight back" act, but so far, from what we can hear, only a few are coming to the party...

            ...That's why rama.net is so lonely looking for company at starbuck!

            Im curious to hear from an experienced Windows developer, how much sales are coming to the app store... so far only I remember one guy writing about the low download numbers of free apps at the Windows store...
          • You mean: "the only money coming from mobile is being made by Apple..."

            I'm too lazy to look it up again, but I'm pretty sure I read that at least until very recently Apple was making 75% of the profit from the sale of ALL smart phones. That means they make 3 times more money than all the other manufacturers put together (you know, phones running M$, Android or RIM OSes, made by Samsung, Nokia, etc.). They do this with only 15% of the market. So what you wanted to say was the market share is controlled by Android, not the profits which belong to Apple (to paraphrase that old Japanese video game: "all your profits are belong to us").

            I am a mobile developer myself. Because of the proven LACK of profits from the sale of Android apps, mine will not be appearing on any of the thousands of different Android devices. But, they will be exclusively (for now, until some other platform can literally "show me the money") on iOS (you know, where the MONEY IS). Hey, if you're an Android user, I have a question for you... how much have you spent, total, on apps for your phone or tablet? Now go down the hall and ask any iPad user... differ much?
          • You mean like the rest of Hollywood movies & TV shows

            where for decades, if they showed an actual logo on the laptop or PC, the vast majority were Macs, despite how it didn't reflect the real world?
          • Apple in TV Shows.

            I only remember seeing the Apple logo on the back of netbooks, illuminated by the fluorescent or LED backlight for the screen. If you watch the NCIS LA series, it's apparent Microsoft owns the show and isn't afraid to use the actors to do skits showing menus (metro) and detachable keyboards, etc. The hit show "Big Bang Theory" has the actors using Dell XPS notebooks with the "XPS" illuminated on the netbook cover. But that's all they do. NCIS LA is a completely different story.
      • I somehow doubt that

        The constant requirement to touch the screen on our iPods hasn't made my wife or I "forget" and want to touch her laptop screen, or the monitor for our desktop. We know the difference between the devices, & I would daresay most consumers do as well.
    • Touch Screens

      Remember not to eat fries while working on your touch screen you may need Windex for Windows 8. I'm not a big fan of touch screen monitors but mobile devices like tablets and smart phones are easier to clean a greasy, bacteria and virus infected mess, I have issues about hygiene even though mice and keyboards are also culprits.