Don’t count Microsoft out yet: Phone shipments grow 227%

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Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system is due out before year end and it may build upon momentum of the prior version. According to research firm Canalys, Microsoft-powered phone shipments for the second quarter were up 277 percent from the prior year. With Windows 8 using the same interface as phones running Microsoft software, perhaps there’s light at the end of the transition tunnel.

There’s one caveat to the data, which estimates shipments of phones to carriers, not sales of phones to consumers. So if there are huge stockpiles of Windows Phone devices on store shelves or in warehouses, the situation isn’t entirely positive. But I haven’t heard of any Windows Phone partners writing off handset inventory of late, even though a recent survey of 30,000 in the U.S. from ComScore show a 0.1 percent drop for Windows Phone.

What is a positive development is that at this point, nearly all of the phone shipments should be the new Windows Phone, and not the old Windows Mobile platform. Who would be shipping them in any quantity? In fact, Canalys specifically says the figures are for Windows Phone. From that perspective, we should see sales numbers over the coming months skewed towards the new platform. And that platform is about to become even newer at a very important time.

Coinciding roughly with Windows Phone 8 is Windows 8 for desktops and laptops; the code was just released to manufacturers earlier this week. In my 2012 mobile predictions, I suggested that Windows 8 may actually help Windows Phone sales due to the similar interface which greatly reduces the learning curve. That’s one of the most brilliant aspects of Apple’s iOS: If you know how to use an iPhone, then you know how to use an iPad or an iPod touch.

My other prediction was that the market share of Windows Phone would overtake that of BlackBerry devices. This speaks to the slow building of Windows Phone sales as much as it does the erosion of BlackBerry sales. Simply put: I don’t think people are turning to BlackBerry devices and Canalys’s shipping estimates loosely suggest the same. While Windows Phone market share — again, based on shipments as a proxy — jumped from 1.2 percent to 3.2 percent, BlackBerry’s share dropped from 11.6 percent to 5.4 percent.

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