söndag 28 november 2010

Microsoft, AT&T Tight-Lipped on Windows Phone 7 Sales

Online rumors suggest AT&T and T-Mobile sold 40,000 Windows Phone 7 devices on Nov. 8, the smartphone platform's first official day of release.

That figure comes courtesy of TheStreet.com, which cited "a market research source who tracks phone sales." AT&T is offering the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround for $199 with a two-year contract, while T-Mobile's device, the HTC HD7, retails for the same price with a data plan.

So I decided to do a little sleuthing. First I approached Microsoft, who referred me to AT&T and T-Mobile. An AT&T spokesperson declined to cite exact sales figures, but offered a statement: "While we won't disclose specific sales figures, we're encouraged by the early demand from customers in stores and online."

In other words, they're keeping quiet. In the meantime, news on Windows Phone 7 sales seems mixed. Yesterday I swung by an AT&T store in Manhattan, where two floor reps told me their Windows Phone 7 stocks remained high. An AT&T spokesperson told the Seattle Times that "some of our markets" experienced lines for the devices, but CNET reports that the Microsoft-related queues at a San Francisco store were largely for free Maroon 5 tickets.

Just some figures for comparison: Apple CEO Steve Jobs claims some 270,000 iOS device activations per day. Meanwhile, some 200,000 Android phones supposedly ship every 24 hours. If you take that "40,000 Windows Phone 7 devices" number as gospel and compare it to the Apple or Google figures (as a lot of bloggers seem determined to do today), you start to wonder whether Microsoft executives are considering the benefits of hara-kiri right about now.

But hold on. Both Android and Apple mobile products are well-established platforms, with robust retail channels and large groups of dedicated followers. As a new platform, Windows Phone 7 lacks both a consumer reputation and a base of support--things it will need to build in coming months. That 40,000 figure (again, if true) isn't spectacular, especially considering it represents three devices on two carriers, but personally I don't think there's cause for alarm.

The more important metrics will be a.) Microsoft's quarterly Windows Phone 7 sales, and b.) how fast it ships a million units. That will give a better idea of the platform's momentum and future prospects. Doom and gloom? Not quite yet.


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