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Summary:

Given how low the sales figures have been for Windows Phone-based devices up to now, it’s hard to believe that purchasing intent can be enou…

Steve Ballmer presenting Windows Phone - Microsoft CES 2011
photo: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Given how low the sales figures have been for Windows Phone-based devices up to now, it’s hard to believe that purchasing intent can be enough to turn things around. But if you believe the news from the analysts at NPD, that could give Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) just the boost it needs — that, and some marketing so that more users start to realize that it exists at all.

Figures out today from The NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence service, which surveys U.S. consumers, largely confirm what other analysts have been telling us: Android is bringing home the bacon when it comes to smartphone purchases, accounting for at least half of all smartphone purchases in the last three quarters.

Android also scores as the most “preferred operating system” among current smartphone owners and those who intend to buy a smartphone. And NPD says it generates the most interest among consumers, both from those already using Android devices and those on other platforms. Example: one-third of current BlackBerry owners say they want Android devices the next time around.

In all, some 50 percent of respondents said they were going to purchase a smartphone next, once again underscoring how much smartphones have come along compared to feature phones.

But here’s a curious fact: when all mobile users who either owned a smartphone or intended to purchase one were asked about what kinds of devices they want to buy next, 44 percent also said that they were considering Windows Phone 7 devices — meaning that the door is open for significantly more sales of Windows Phone 7 devices, if Microsoft and OEMs (and specifically its newest and biggest OEM, Nokia) get their acts together.

That is no mean feat: Android and iOS are covered tons in the media, and Windows Phone — surprisingly for a Microsoft product — seems to have missed the boat on brand awareness. An embarrassing 45 percent of consumers surveyed by NPD said they were unaware of Windows Phone 7.

And among the 50 percent of consumers who said they will be buying a smartphone, but didn’t want to buy a Windows Phone, the biggest reason, accounting for 46 percent of respondents, was because they didn’t know enough about the Windows Phone OS.

NPD notes that the second-most used reason was OS lock-in — too much time or money invested in the current OS. (And that’s one more reason why it’s so important to have app stores — even if they don’t make much money for the OEMs hosting them.)

According to figures from Gartner, Microsoft’s mobile platforms (mainly Windows Phone devices) took just 1.6 percent of all sales of smartphones worldwide in Q2 2011; Android was well in the lead, accounting for 43.4 percent of all sales.

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  1. Windows mobile peaked years ago. The ship has sailed. 

    1. Yes, Windows MOBILE peaked years ago. But this discussion is about Windows
      Phone 7, which is an entirely new OS that was built from the ground up. You
      can’t compare the two. That’s like looking at a Mac and saying “Mac OS 6 peaked
      years ago”. Different animal, different story.

    2. Not only has the ship sailed, but the reverence for Nokia hardware out in the market dried up and moved to other more active manufacturers. Nokia is the only thing that ‘may’ have saved the platform, but they have turned their back on so many current loyal customers in such a way that many will not return, no matter what they build for the M$ platform.

    3. You are VERY right. A new ship has spawned in it’s place: “WINDOWS PHONE”

      The Windows Mobile ship sailed a long time ago. Sadly and regrettably, in terms of function, WM was ahead of it’s time.
      Of course no matter how good it is, if it’s implementation is not adequate, its bound to fail.

      If you are going to ridicule it, at least do it properly instead of trolling.

    4. The article is about Windows Phone and not Windows Mobile… Not sure why people still keep making this mistake. I guess MS is really doing a horrible job marketing the new platform.

  2. Doesn’t really jive with data for purchasing intent for the iPhone 5 or various new Android devices which re announced every 3-5 days. Bottom line is that people may say one thing and do another in the store. There certainly is precious little good news for Microsoft in terms of sales to date although Mango (7.5) looks like a solid improvement and they are at least grabbing some of the $$ of Android sales from HTC….

  3. LOL… WP7 has no mindshare. No one is buying these shitty phones.

    1. Based on your comment, I’m guessing that you’ve never actually seen one of these phone, nor worked with one.  If you had, I don’t think you would have made that comment.  I’m guessing that you are reacting strictly to the fact that Microsoft makes the OS.  That would be a mistake.

      I’m an Android guy myself.  But I have several coworkers and friends that own Windows Phone 7 phones, and I have to admit that I’m intrigued.  Microsoft caught up to the polish and functionality of the iPhone very quickly!  In every respect the “Mango” release of the OS is equal to iOS, and in some places it is superior.  The whole experience is extremely polished and responsive, the UI is a thing of beauty, navigation is great, and the overall functionality is on par with any phone OS on the market.  Now Microsoft seems to be charging ahead into new territory.

      I’m pretty deeply entrenched in Android.  But when I purchase my next phone, I’ll definitely be considering Windows Phone 7. 

      1. Where does Microsoft keep their army of blog responders? India or China?

        1. I assume in the same place that Apple and Google keeps theirs. ;-)

    2. First-gen WP7 phones were mostly awful. Plus there were no apps and the OS wasn’t feature complete anyway.

      But the OS has filled in all the blanks, there’s a passable (still not great, but passable)selection of apps, and leaked pics of the forthcoming Nokia phone look freaking awesome.
      If Nokia can deliver great hardware, then I expect a lot of people will discover that they quite like the OS, and WP7 will start growing in market share. But if the hardware is outdated Android leftovers again, then who would want to buy those?

      count me as someone following with interest. I’m an Android user, and I’m happy with the platform, but I would definitely consider switching if someone can deliver a device with everything I need. The core WP7 UI just seems like a better experience.

  4. Daniel Eran Dilger Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    WP7 has a unique layer of UI, but it quickly turns into a Zune experience when you work on it: it feels slow and unfinished. It is a great first two-seconds impression but spend 2 minutes with it and you’ll be puzzled how this piece of crap shipped at all. 

    It is nowhere near the iPhone in overall polish, let alone features that are important to business users (where Android also fails). WP7 is largely an alternative to Android, as both can essentially run on the same type of hardware around the same cost. But the market has had over a year to respond to WP7, and the response has been clear: open to Android, not interested at all in WP7. 

    In that year, Microsoft has released a minor update while Apple has advanced features well down the field with the soon to hit iOS 5. It’s hard to catch up when you’re not selling anything at all.

  5. I love how people comment on the phone without using one. Same for the comment on the Zune. Have you ever used a Zune? It’s regarded as the best music player on the market. Microsoft blew it and it never took off but as a device it’s a great experience. Take a look at the reviews for the 32gb zune hd on Amazon and get back to me.

    1. The Zune compares favorably to a current iPod touch running iOS4 and iOS5 in a few days? That is its competition. It isn’t practical to verify because MS shown so little commitment to that market and their customers. MS’s spastic behavior in this market (portable media players), first abandoning their business partners with the Plays-for-sure fiasco and then essentially dropping the ball (any PMP for WPhone 7?). The scorn they receive for Zune is fair because they’ve earrrned it.

  6. For the past few months I’ve been using a Samsung Focus running WP7.5 Mango and it is a game changer in my opinion. The OS is so much more alive and well thought out compared to Android. This has to be the fastest and smoothest  experience I’ve had with a smartphone. Apps are far more stable too, never see force closes like I get on Android all the time. It is hard to describe how much better and accurate the keyboard and auto correction is. I used to only buy smartphones with physical keyboards, after using Mango I don’t think there is a reason for them to exist anymore.
     
    The instant on camera and social network integration are amazing. The app situation is not bad either. They have about 32,000 apps and thousands more in waiting for the tons of new features that Mango will enable like augmented reality, background audio, and video chat. This an amazing OS that you would be a fool to not try out. There’s a reason why Microsoft has made Windows Phone OS the blueprint for every interface they make from Xbox to Windows 8.

  7. Does anyone have research data on the % of smartphone buyers who decide on a purchase based on OPERATING SYSTEM versus (a) CARRIER or (b) HANDSET MAKER ?

    Seems to me OS would be last on the list of these three decision factors, and i’m tempted to say your average Joe in flyover country  has no idea what you guys are talking about…

  8. Astonishing.
    A psychopath has eloped from a psychiatric hospital.
    And he will manage to make Nokia sink.

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