Microsoft Silent about WP7 Sales: Is this Caution or Cover-Up?

by Matt Klassen on December 10, 2010

Although my mother always taught me that if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all, let’s hope Microsoft isn’t employing that same adage with its fledgling Windows Phone 7.

Over the course of the last several months—even before its official release—Microsoft has dedicated significant advertising dollars to creating awareness for its new OS and generating a consumer buzz that the California-based computer giant hopes will translate into sales.

But is the fact that I can’t turn around without hitting a WP7 advertisement or turn on the TV without crumpling under the deluge of once entertaining WP7 commercials translating into market success for Microsoft? It’s tough to say, since Microsoft is refusing to release actual WP7 sales numbers.

This refusal has led to some confusion: Is Microsoft proud of what WP7 has accomplished so far, but simply wants to wait till the numbers are really impressive, or is Microsoft embarrassed by WP7 lacklustre reception in the mobile market, trying to hide its shame in hopes that sales will eventually rebound?

Whatever the actual case may be, Microsoft spokespeople and executives are working overtime in an effort to dodge these particularly pointed questions, going only so far as to say that it’s far too soon to talk hard numbers, because the truth of the matter is that it takes time to break into a competitive market that is dominated by a small selection of popular operating systems.

To be fair, as Greg Kumparak wrote in his MobileCrunch blog, “Apple waited 74 days before talking up their first iPhone for hitting one million sales; Google waited over six months before announcing that the original Android phone, the G1, had accomplished the same thing,” so perhaps we should cut Microsoft some slack.

But the important difference here is that both of these aforementioned examples pertained to individual phones, not an operating system whose initial launch put it in 9 different devices on 60 worldwide carriers in more than 30 different countries across the globe. One would think that with this kind of mobile carpet bombing, WP7 surely should have something to show for its efforts by now.

What Microsoft will do is deny any and all speculation that the initial WP7 sales are soft, stating that as sales of WP7 devices go, it’s “so far…so good.” But consider this, if WP7 devices are seeing strong initial sales, even if they aren’t in the realm of the iPhone or the popular Android devices, wouldn’t Microsoft want to share the news?

Beyond being tightlipped about sales figures, Microsoft is seemingly going out of its way to explain to anyone who will listen that success in the mobile market takes time, and it will probably be years, yes years, before WP7 is able to earn a significant slice of the mobile market pie.

So what should we make of Microsoft’s little avoidance dance? For starters, lets all remember that Android started out as nothing more than an annoying fly in Apple’s ear, only to see itself become Apple’s chief rival a short two years later. That being said, even if initial WP7 sales are less than exemplary today it really says nothing about its future potential to flourish and succeed. However, the one thing that we’re not hearing from Microsoft is confidence in its OS, and without confidence, WP7’s struggles will only continue.

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Jordan Richardson December 10, 2010 at 5:47 am

This is basic strategy and virtually every company on earth does it, especially with the initial North American release date just slightly over a month ago. With the O/S hitting Asia sometime in 2011, waiting on a more complete set of figures is the smarter move in terms of pleasing the shareholders.

I do love how the MobileCrunch story takes Belfiore’s “Maybe” as an admission that the O/S will “take years” to catch up to the competition as some sort of resignation.

Says the article: “Microsoft, however, doesn’t seem too confident that they’ll be able to catch up even within the next few years.”

That’s a pretty loaded “Maybe,” apparently.

Jordan Richardson December 10, 2010 at 5:48 am

*competition and as some sort of resignation, I mean. Derr.

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