Amid reports that Windows Phone 7 has made only a small impact in its first six weeks, Microsoft has released its first sales figures, claiming 1.5 million shipments of devices running the new operating system.
This healthy figure surprised many, though it refers to sales to operators and retailers rather than sell-on to consumers.
It does not come close to the figures for a new iPhone or an Android big-hitter, but it is respectable – and Microsoft itself has said it knows a new OS will be a slow burn when up against the entrenched positions of iOS, Android and Symbian.
However, it remains unclear how many of those WP7 smartphones are still sitting on shelves. Last week some US carriers were increasing buy-one-get-one-free offers on Microsoft phones, though in several European territories – where Apple and Android are somewhat less powerful – operators have reported sell-outs.
Achim Berg, Microsoft's VP of business and marketing for Windows Phone, says the WP7 launch has been in line with that of other first generation mobile platforms.
The original iPhone sold one million units in its first 74 days, though that was to end-users and only in the US.
"We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run," Berg said. "Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning. Our opportunity is to make sure people get to play with a Windows Phone. Once they do, they love it. This is very important for us."
The Redmond giant has been investing heavily in advertising and carrier marketing to ensure it brings WP7, with its innovative user interface, to the attention of consumers. It is also paying developers to support the platform in some areas, though it appears to be getting strong developer support anyway. WP7 has achieved 4,000 apps in its first two months since the store opened, which is faster than Android's first 60 days. Microsoft said it has 18,000 developers building apps for its marketplace.
However, Microsoft needs to demonstrate sales to end users, and to show sufficient momentum there to convert the early developer curiosity and interest into loyal support.
As Berg put it: "We know we have tough competition, and this is a completely new product. We're in the race – it's not a sprint but we are certainly gaining momentum and we're in it for the long run."
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