Summary:

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has yet to release any official sales figures for Windows Phone 7 devices since their launch last autumn, but there h…

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Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has yet to release any official sales figures for Windows Phone 7 devices since their launch last autumn, but there have been plenty of reports hinting that numbers haven’t been tremendous (here’s a recent one from ODM partner LG). There could be a number of reasons for this; Strategy Analytics gives us some insight into one: despite a reported $500 million marketing spend on the new OS, Microsoft still isn’t getting its message across well enough.

Last week, Strategy Analytics interviewed 158 smartphone owners and “intenders” in the city of San Diego. They spoke to (roughly) equal numbers of Android, BlackBerry and iOS owners, as well as the same number of non-smartphone users who intended to buy a smartphone in the next 60 days.

When asked, What device would you buy if you were to purchase a phone immediately? Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android came out almost equal: 85 percent of respondents said they would consider or strongly consider an iOS device; while 84 percent went for Android. But only 51 percent “would even consider” a Windows Phone 7 device. (No mention of RIM’s BlackBerry was made one way or the other in the blog post.)

Then Strategy Analytics took the 49 percent who said they wouldn’t even consider a WP7 device, and asked them why, in their own words:

– 42 people said they were unfamiliar with WP7 / didn’t know enough about it;
– 11 said they preferred another OS / or Mac products generally
– Nine thought Windows Mobile products to be difficult to use
– Nine consider Windows Mobile products to be poor quality/unreliable
– Three thought the lack of apps were an issue (Microsoft’s Marketplace has less than 10,000, compared to the 350,000 on the Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) App Store or the 160,000 in the Android Market)
– Two consider Windows Mobile software to be outdated — despite this being a new OS

At 158, it’s a small sample size, and it’s still early days for the Windows Phone 7 platform, but the responses suggest that Microsoft has not been able to break through the hype — or perhaps has not yet developed a product that can break through the hype — that surrounds Android and Apple.

Microsoft was one of the early movers in smartphones, but sometimes being first isn’t always best, since a poor early experience can follow you even when you’ve improved your product. In describing those who viewed WP7 negatively, the analysts write: “Most of the individual comments suggest that [negative] perception is based on personal experience of earlier versions of the software.”

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