Microsoft's Ballmer: Windows Phone sales up 4x from 2011

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer said that sales of devices running the software giant's Windows Phone platform are four times what they were in 2011, indicating strong momentum. However, Ballmer's vague comments, made during his presentation at the company's annual investor meeting, gave little hint as to how many Windows Phones are actually being sold.

Microsoft has never given specific sales numbers for Windows Phone, and by the accounts of third-party research firms the platforms remains near the bottom of the smartphone heap in terms of market share. Ballmer did not give a specific sales figure or even time period for his sales comparison, according to AllThingsD.

Research firm Gartner pegged Microsoft's global smartphone market share at 2.4 percent and IDC had Microsoft at 2 percent. Ballmer and other Microsoft executives have expressed confidence that Windows Phone 8 devices, released this quarter, will find more favor with consumers thanks to beefed up hardware and improved software.

Ballmer spent part of his time at the investor meeting defending the company's record of innovation under his tenure as CEO. "We're innovating on the seam between software and hardware," Ballmer said, when asked why his company had fallen behind rival Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), according to Reuters. "Maybe we should have done that earlier."

Microsoft just released its first branded computer, the Surface tablet running Windows 8. There have been rumors that Microsoft is working on its own branded smartphone, but Microsoft has never confirmed any of the reports.

Separately, Microsoft said that it will release its Windows Phone 7.8 software update sometime early next year. In a company blog post, Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of the Windows Phone division, wrote that the company is "working closely with our hardware and carrier partners to get it tested, approved, and rolled out to as many devices as possible in early 2013. As we work to quickly get this in the hands of our loyal users, we're also striving to deliver a high-quality release and ensure a smooth transition for our widely expanded services."

Windows Phone 7.8 is an update for phones running the older Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" software platform and attempts to deliver some of the features available through Windows Phone 8 (Windows Phone 7.5 devices cannot be updated to Windows Phone 8). 

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this Microsoft blog post

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