Print 45 comment(s) - last by Aloonatic.. on Mar 11 at 3:21 AM

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 Aloonatic on 3/11/2011 3:21:39 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know what debate you think I'm having, but all I started off saying was that WP7 isn't MS's first go at a mobile OS.

1- Why do you say that I have a distaste of MS? Just because I dared to point out what I did? Read my other comments, learn, sit back down and... :o)

2- You seem to have missed the point that I was making, and seem to be unable to comprehend the difference between a grand mother and mother in law, which is a little worrying. What I am saying, and could have said more clearly, is that high level smart phones, which MS seem to be exclusively aiming at, are pretty close to maturity. I suppose they don't have a great deal of choice in this, being so ate to the game however.

The smart phone that my mother-in-law has, however, is a HTC wildfire. Much of the growth in the smart phone will market now be in this cheaper and less powerful device area, IMO. Just as not all mobile phones a few years ago were top of the range camera phones, an awful lot were cheap and cheerful efforts.

3- Not sure why you say that I am spraying everywhere? I've been pretty specific, and just replied to what others have said since You'll notice that I started off with a simple point, only for others to tack issues on. Also, I've not written anyone off. Seriously, why so touchy about any criticism or non fanboy like supporting comment of blind, unquestioning support?

I'm also curious about MS ever being seen as the under-dog in any market that they enter. They might be the new boys, perhaps, but I doubt that anyone sees them entering a market as a little company that might not stand a chance against the big companies out there that are larger than them, like.... Erm, yeah, Palm were much bigger than MS? They don't always succeed tho. Even though many people here love zune, I have never met anyone who has used one in the real world. MS might have made the greatest product in the world with the zune, but zune has hardly become synonymous mobile MP3 players.

So, just as it's foolish to write them off as catastrophic folly (which I never did, and I agree with you, it would be stupid to write them off) it's also catastrophic folly to assume that they will definitely be #1 in the market.

4- If you weren't accusing me, then why put that statement in a comment that was clearly aimed at me?

Finally, I'm glad that you can see that I am factually correct. And you might also notice that in my very first sentence in all this I said that it depends on your point of view about what a first iteration is. You (clearly an MS fan seeing as you seem to take any criticism so personally) might like to think that this is effectively a first effort by MS, and yes, they have restarted their efforts, but to judger them on the same level as other companies who have not been making mobile OSes for years and years as MS have done is not correct, IMHO.

Again, as I have said in other comments, I hope that WP7 is great. I wont rule it out when it comes to contract renewal time, by any means.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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