23 percent of Windows Phone users come from Android, claims Microsoft. Are we supposed to be impressed?

June 27, 2013
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Nokia Lumia 920

Yesterday during a BUILD session geared towards Windows Phone, Microsoft aimed to motivate developers by talking a bit about the mobile OS’ current market penetration. During the presentation Microsoft shared a few stats about where Microsoft Windows Phone users come from.

According to the data, 42% of users come from a feature phone. But what Microsoft really wanted to rub in was that supposedly 23% of Windows Phone devices come from Android users that ‘upgraded’ (Microsoft’s words not mine!) over to a Windows Phone 8 device.

So that’s amazing, mind-blowing – Android sure is in trouble! Except for the fact that it isn’t. Not at all.

Looking at Q1 2013 data from IDC, Windows Phone represented 3.2% of the entire smartphone marketshare pie, shipping 7 million units. This was a notable growth of 133.3% year-over-year. Okay, so Windows Phone did see growth, that much is true, but so did Android.

During Q1 2013, the platform made up 75% of the worldwide market and shipped 162.1 million units, reporting a 79.5% year-over-year growth.

While Windows Phone 8 grew more percentage wise, the actual growth of units shipped between Q1 2012 and Q1 2013 was just 4 million more. In contrast, Android shipped 71.8 million more.

Tell me, which of these figures impresses you the most?

HTC Windows Phone 8X

Understanding why some Android users are jumping ship to Windows Phone 8

We can point out the fact that Microsoft’s growth isn’t really significant all day until we turn blue in the face. That doesn’t change the fact that there are at least some folks that have made the jump over to Windows Phone 8. The question is: why?

There is no way to know for sure unless we go knocking on the door of every Windows Phone convert, but we can take some guesses.

Past Windows Phone/Mobile users

First, at least a small portion of these ‘converted’ users might have owned Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7 devices but jumped ship when they realized that Microsoft couldn’t keep up with the competition.

Windows Phone 8 is a dramatically different experience from Android and iOS, and also represents a major leap forward from WP7 and WM. Whether you agree or not, some users also really enjoy the idea of live tiles.

It’s no surprise that Windows Phone 8 might attract back some of these former fans.

Not everyone loves an open OS

If you are reading this and regularly keep up with Android-related news, odds are that you are a big fan of Google’s open platform.

You like customizing your phone. You enjoy the freedom to use any app you want, or ditch apps that you’d rather not use. More than likely you aren’t so keen on the idea of a locked down OS and would NEVER consider it.

We have to face the facts though, not everyone feels that way. Some people like a platform that takes them by the hand and makes things as “simple” as can be.

Why were these users on an Android device to begin with? Honestly, affordability and freedom of choice when it comes to hardware. They might like an OS that is simple, but they want to choose a phone that looks/works best for them and fits into their budget.

With Windows Phone 8, they get a more Apple-ish locked-down approach, but they have several hardware options that stand out in a crowd. I may not be a Windows Phone fan, but I will admit that their software and partner hardware certainly stands out (whether that’s good or bad is up to you).

Elephant in the room: customer satisfaction

Many Apple fans will be quick to point out that iOS is consistently rated higher overall in customer satisfaction than the Android. What they aren’t as quick to point out is that several Android devices have a higher satisfaction rating than the iPhone, including the Galaxy Note 2.

Unfortunately, there are tons of low-end and even mid-range Android handsets that admittedly aren’t perfect. Many users buy these cheaper handsets, find the experience isn’t perfect and instead of blaming the junk phone – they feel that Android is at fault.

It’s perfectly conceivable that at least some users that have been ‘burnt’ by lower-quality Android handsets might have made the jump to other platforms, and that could certainly include WP8.

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In the grand scheme, Windows Phone 8’s ‘23% Android stat’ doesn’t really matter

We’ve explored some of the reasons why a small minority of Android users might consider converting to Windows Phone, but does this statistic matter in reality? Not really.

Windows Phone 8 is a new OS and Microsoft has put a lot of hype behind it, enough that early on it might have won over some converts from another platform. Unfortunately for the Redmond giant, all evidence suggests that Microsoft can’t sustain this growth or hype.

We might have pointed to IDC’s data showing that Windows Phone 8 grew tremendously in Q1 2013 compared to last year, but looking at things from a month-to-month basis? ComScore reports that in the United States Microsoft actually went down .1% during the period ending in April, compared to where they stood back in January.

What does this mean? Basically, that Microsoft’s revelation of this “23% from Android” figure is simply about smoke and mirrors. It is an attempt to excite developers into developing for their platform. Unfortunately for Microsoft, they don’t really back up their claims with meaningful facts. And so far even developers don’t seem convinced.

Even if – by miracle – Microsoft does continue to slowly gobble up some Android users, Android will continue to expand its user base as well, negating any loss of users to Microsoft.

Microsoft is desperate to solidify its place as the third most popular mobile OS, and to do so, they are going to work hard at downplaying iOS and Android. It’s as simple as that.

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