Microsoft’s (s msft) smartphone strategy isn’t yet paying off in terms of sales, market share or user adoption, at least not from any measurable statistics, which are far and few between. The company hasn’t offered even the slightest hint at sales figures for handsets running its new Windows Phone 7 operating system. But by looking at statistics outside of Microsoft and retail channels, we can at least get a glimpse of how Windows Phone 7 is doing.
Chitika released data late last night showing Windows Phone 7 activity on its advertising network is barely measurable. In a blog post, Chitika, which serves more than a billion ads monthly across 100,000 websites, says for every one network ad impression on a Windows Phone 7 handset, it sees 110 impressions from Android (s goog) phones and 172 from iPhones (s aapl). These results are from the prior three weeks and incorporate handset data from more than 31 million ad impressions during that time.
Clearly, any new smartphone platform won’t initially compete with strong-selling incumbents, so we can’t read into this limited data too much. But at a minimum, it lends credence to rumors and grumblings that Windows Phone 7 devices may not be selling well just yet, and it provides a nice baseline for future research.
Early analyst projections indicated that 40,000 Windows Phone 7 handsets were sold on the initial launch day last month. The devices are only available on two of the four major carriers in the U.S., which also limits potential sales, and Dell (s dell) is facing production delays for one Windows Phone 7 model. And although it’s the holiday season, I’ve never seen price cuts and “buy one, get one” free offers for any handset system so quickly before now, yet I’ve recently noticed several such deals for the one-month old platform.
The main problem for Windows Phone 7 may not be in marketing and availability, however. Although the platform has a refreshing user interface that differs greatly from competitors, my hands-on experience shows that Microsoft still has much room for improvement in Windows Phone 7. Some standard features on competing phones won’t be arriving on Microsoft handsets until next year, for example. And by comparison, the Windows Marketplace app store is lacking, even though a large number of developers say they’re interested in the platform; in recent surveys, 20 percent of programmers plan to code apps for Windows Phone 7 next year, which is the same number planning to make iPad (s aapl) apps.
To be sure, Windows Phone 7 has a long road ahead of it, and Microsoft appears committed to the journey. Handset sales are expected to overtake traditional computer sales by 2012 and Microsoft can’t afford to stay out of this market so it’s likely to follow the same strategy it has with its Xbox: keep pouring money into the effort until it finally becomes profitable. Early data, however, suggests that Microsoft could be traveling down this path for many years to come with Windows Phone 7.
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