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Window Phone 7's market slice contracted slightly in the closing months of last year. But the platforms true test will come when it reaches a fully-updated form, begins popping up in Nokia handsets, and hits Verizon/Sprint during Summer 2011.  (Source: Reuters)
Windows Phone may yet reverse the fortunes of the struggling giant, but the proof isn't there yet

Q4 2011 wasn't exactly the start for Windows Phone 7 that Microsoft might have dreamed of, but the platform is far from out of the picture.

Windows Phone 7 lost some ground in October 2010 through January 2011 of this year according to market research firm comScore.  The platform dipped from 9.7 percent market share to 8.0 percent.

Other losers for the quarter were HP's Palm unit, which fell from 3.9 to 3.2 percent, and RIM, which dropped from 35.8 to 30.4 percent.  Apple held steady, beginning at 24.6 and closing at 24.7 percent.  

The only real winner was Android that soared from 23.5 percent to 31.2 percent.  In other words -- Android is eating everyone else's lunch, except for Apple that is hanging steady due to its legion of loyal fans.

Ultimately this is news we've known for some time now.  Other market research reports have reported Android already having passed RIM and iOS.  The interesting and much-talked-about aspect of this particular report is the implication that Microsoft lost even more market share.

While it's tempting to predict to buy in to the gloom and predict the demise of Windows Phone 7 (and some are indeed doing exactly that), the outlook for Windows Phone 7 is pretty good.  With arguably the market's most cutting-edge user interface (and a well-liked one by customers to boot) Windows Phone 7 offers a unique profile.  

With a partnership with Nokia in hand it seems destined for a large boost in market share, possibly to the number two position, as Nokia phases out Symbian over the next year.  Many have expressed skepticism of this given Nokia's poor performance, but history shows that Nokia is more than capable of lingering around, market share-wise, despite an anemic smartphone lineup in the U.S.  And while recently revealed details indicate Microsoft may have essentially "bought" that market share via a $1B USD payout to Nokia, at the end of the day it's where the market moves that counts.

The reasons for the dip seem pretty straightforward.  

First, there was a limited number of handset options at launch time compared to Android and WP7 handsets haven't landed on Verizon or Sprint.  In this regard Microsoft will continue to suffer for a little while as a Microsoft spokesperson says that the handsets won't hit America's biggest and third biggest (respectively) carriers until June 30.

Second, many buyers on AT&T and T-Mobile who might be interested in Windows Phone 7 handsets may be waiting to see how Microsoft's intense cycle of early updates plays out.  Those updates will add functionality like third-party multi-tasking and copy and paste.  Likewise they're likely waiting for issues like update compatibility and phantom data to be cleaned up as Microsoft and its hardware partners break in the platform.

Microsoft proclaimed earlier this year that it sold 2 million "units" of Windows Phone 7 (licenses, not handsets) -- a rather misleading figure as its true handset totals were far from that.  Likewise, some of the platform's critics have been quick to call it a tremendous failure.

Reality is that Windows Phone 7's true potential won't be seen until it lands on Verizon -- effectively in July -- at the least.  Like Android's original launch, the most serious test will come at about the end of the year.  If the platform can't gain ground during the Nokia phase-in and with a year of updates under its belt, then it's time to worry.  But chances are that Microsoft's position will improve -- even if its start was far from what it might have hoped for in its most optimistic dreams.

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By Belegost on 3/8/2011 2:17:43 PM , Rating: 3
So I have both an Android (MyTouch 4g) and WP7 (HTC HD7) and there's benefits and problems with both, but overall I prefer the WP7.

Android does have a more full app market, with some apps I can't find equivalents on WP7. Also, the ability to run certain apps (messengers) in the background on android is nice.

However, Android's interface is clunkier than a '78 oldsmobile. The widgets don't make up for the fact that half the things I want to do require too many steps, and serve to create a very cluttered set of homescreens. The tile system in WP7 is in a completely different league, and I found I could do the important things much easier.

Second, the Android module system is messy... for almost a week I couldn't use the voice chat app (the only reason I have the mytouch, my girlfriend is deaf) because one of the modules for HSDPA was corrupted by another app which caused all apps to fail to hook into the network connection. I eventually had to reset to factory to reset that module. MS implements a far more secure code environment. Which is another point, writing apps for WP7 is massively nicer than Android, I've tried both.

Finally, battery life. The MyTouch 4G and HD7 both use the same snapdragon chip with the same clocks, the mytouch implements HSDPA, but even restricted to GSM 3G the HD7 gets over twice the usable battery life. I can usually get about 7-8 hours out of the mytouch (and since 3 of my deaf friends have identical phones and don't get any better life, I think it's typical.) I generally charge my HD7 once at night and run it a full 16 hour day on that one charge. This despite the HD7 having a 1200mAH battery compared to 1400mAH in the mytouch. This is of course due to the fact that Android allows anything to keep running in the background and under lock, while that's nice when you want to use some apps, it drains the battery like no tomorrow.

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