The first phones with Microsoft’s all new Windows Phone 7 shipped in the fall of 2010. The new platform was lauded for its innovative interface, but it was missing features and sales did not follow as Android and iPhone dominated the market.
This fall Microsoft released a major update, Windows Phone 7.5 (aka Mango), also to great reviews. But will the sales follow? There seems to be some evidence that they are.
T-Mobile is making an annoucement with Nokia on December 14 to be the first to introduce Nokia’s Windows phones in the US. Sadly, it will be the low end Lumia 710 and not the more desirable Lumia 800.
Nokia isn’t the only brand seeing their Windows Phones selling well. The HTC Titan has also been selling out on AT&T. AT&T’s other Windows Phone, the Samsung Focus S, is also selling well.
Work to do
Initial sales of these devices is a good sign, but Microsoft and its partners have work to do if they want to keep it up. Windows Phone does not yet support hardware that Android and iOS do and that will be crucial for them. Verizon has already said that unless Windows Phone supports LTE they will not carry any new devices.
Dual-Core CPU support is also missing. Even though Windows Phone’s performance is quite good on single core platforms, it will be harder to win sales when all other high end phones have dual core CPUs.
The key to success will be getting enough developers to support the platform. The Windows Marketplace already has 40,000 apps but that is small compared to the 500,000 apps both Apple and Google can boast about. Larger numbers of consumers should draw developers to the platform.
I am happy to hear about good sales numbers for Windows phone. I am hoping the Windows Phone is successful because it is genuinely different from iOS and Android and I think the market needs that. Consumers need more choice than just iOS and Android, and Microsoft seems to be doing some different and innovative things with their platform (imagine that!). They are certainly behind the leaders in terms of features, but Microsoft has the resources to close that gap.
Time is becoming an issue as the smartphone market is rapidly maturing and it will be harder to get people to switch platforms once they have invested another platform’s apps and knowledge. Windows 8 next year could help promote Windows Phone as its Metro interface is very similar to Windows Phone’s interface. It will be a good way to promote the platform but a year is a very long time and the competition isn’t resting. iOS 6 and Android 5 will be out by then.