Android doesn’t seem to show any sign of slow-down, and the total subscribers base in USA has gained another 5.4% market share in the last 3 months alone, which is almost as much market share as Microsoft has left (5.7%) with both Windows Mobile 6 and WP7 – combined. Not only that, but that number is decreasing fast, even after the launch of WP7. Can Microsoft recover?
Although, I figured Android would continue to grow and that Microsoft was too late to the game to actually “beat” Android when Windows Phone 7 launched late last year, I still expected it to do much better than it did. Right now they have a little over 1% in global sales, which means the WP7 growth actually slowed down after launch, when it was like 2%. Even Steve Ballmer predicted in May last year that there will be 30 million new phones with either Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7 on them by the end of 2011 (I’m guessing he was thinking more about WP7 doing that than Windows Mobile). But instead of WP7 compensating for Windows Mobile’s fall, it seems they are both in a fast decline.
While Microsoft put a reported $500 million in promoting WP7, either in advertising or in getting developers to make apps for the platforms, and in getting manufacturers to make phones for them, things didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped they will. The WP7 is indeed quite different from iOS and Android and the other mobile operating systems out there, but does that necessarily translate into a product consumers want to buy? So far it doesn’t look like it. It may be that people go into a store, see 20 devices with icons and such, something they are familiar with, and then see the odd WP7 phone. Would they be compelled to go and try that first? Something tells me that because the OS is so different from what they know, if anything, they will save it for last, and be interested in it only if they like the hardware design.
Speaking of stores, apparently the carriers aren’t too excited about pushing WP7 either. They may want a 3rd alternative to Android and the iPhone, but that doesn’t mean they will risk their own money promoting a product that won’t sell. When Android launched it was different. Most of them didn’t even have the iPhone, because Apple made exclusive deals with carriers all over the world. So they desperately needed an alternative. Android offered them that alternative, and then some, with dozens of new devices coming out in the past 2 years. With so many devices to choose from, and looking different enough from each other to sway a consumer to buy one or the other, the carriers don’t feel particularly in a rush to support another OS.
Microsoft has one last chance with the launch of WP7 Mango and Nokia releasing their first WP7 phone. If that doesn’t make WP7 get back on track, it may be the end of WP7 and Microsoft playing the smartphone game.