Why Aren’t Windows 7 Phones Selling?

We reported last week that our sales figures for Windows Phone 7 showed the fledgling OS being outsold by Android and even Symbian 3. We’ve received loads of feedback,  some of it blasting us for “Microsoft Bashing” and some of it blasting Windows Phone 7.

Contrary to what you might expect from the figures, most of the Windows Phone 7 handsets are actually rather good, particularly the HTC HD7, they’ve mostly had good reviews from the technology press and owners seem to be happy.

But our data aside, data from Facebook shows that only a small number of people have accessed their accounts from a Windows 7 phone, and given that Facebook is one of the key apps on all the handsets this doesn’t bode well. In the US, AT&T are offering all Windows 7 Handsets on BOGOF, and other retailers are following suit prompting speculation that they are struggling to shift their stocks. The majority of mobile phones get discounted as they move through their life cycle but half price less than a month after launch is unprecedented.

Perhaps the most telling figures though are those that have not been released, Microsoft are not usually shy about sales figures if they are good, the XBox Kinect has been selling like hot cakes and MS have made those figures widely available so why the hush about Windows phone 7?

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t these phones selling? To reiterate, there’s nothing wrong with them, but apart from Xbox 360 compatibility there’s really nothing that you haven’t been able to get on an iPhone, Blackberry or Android phone for the last year.

Windows Phone 7 doesn’t have a killer handset yet, the handsets are good, but they are all fairly generic, and in most cases each manufacturer offers a very similar model with Android. It doesn’t seem from the range of handsets on offer that any manufacturers have really got behind Windows Phone 7 yet, they’ve dipped their toes but no more.

Perhaps most importantly the Windows brand, despite Microsoft’s best efforts, just isn’t cool. People associate Windows with work, spreadsheets, power point and worse, viruses and crashing. You have to wonder if the Xbox would have been the runaway success it undoubtedly has been if it had been called “Windows Games Console”, perhaps Xphone would have been a better idea?

Some of the feedback we’ve had asked if it was too early to count Windows Phone 7 out of the mobile market, well that’s not what we’re doing and yes it is too early, but we have to remember that this isn’t a new product, it’s a new version of Windows mobile. Microsoft aren’t new to this, they’ve been in the mobile market for years.

Another reader said  “you obviously cannot discount Microsoft’s presence in the corporate sector, which may help them cross-over to that space; a transition the iPhone has struggled with so far.”

This is a good point, MS still holds huge sway in the corporate sector and the iPhone hasn’t really made inroads there. But again, this isn’t a new OS, previous incarnations of Windows Mobile didn’t make an impression in the corporate sector which is still largely occupied by Blackberry. Aside from MS Office compatibility – which can be done on Android, Blackberry, IOS and Symbian – there’s nothing new to persuade business users.

Personally, I hope that Windows Phone 7 succeeds, I really do, if only to prevent Android or any other OS from getting a monopoly.

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