Windows Phone is growing fast, but it needs to

Windows Phone is growing fast, but it needs to

The great thing about statistics is you can use them to support practically any argument – you just have to pick the right numbers and express them in the right way.

Like the politician who, on causing outrage by stating that half the people in parliament were donkeys, apologised and conceded that half of his colleagues were in fact not donkeys.

Moving closer to home, consider the fact – and it is a fact, at least according to NetMarketShare – that Windows Phone was by far the fastest growing mobile OS in terms of global internet usage in 2012, posting a massive 289% growth year on year over 2011. Good news, right?

Not as good as it might sound. It doesn't take a degree in mathematics to work out that the only way it's even possible to grow by 289% is if the number you're growing from is pretty low to begin with.

Take iOS. The Apple platform accounted for roughly 50% of all mobile web traffic in December 2011, making a WinPho-matching spike in 2012 a statistical impossibility.

So while pro-WP blogs are quite entitled to champion what appears to be some big gains by Windows Phone this year - and so long as the numbers are correct (and let's assume they are for the sake of argument), they aren't telling any lies by doing so - some of the numbers that aren't highlighted reflect far from favourably on Microsoft.

First, the figure of 289% is based on growth from 0.27% of web traffic in December 2011 to 1.05% in December 2012. Neither number leaves Microsoft looking good. Windows Phone is now the best part of two and a half years old now, and though they wouldn't have said it at the time, I'm sure the likes of Steve Ballmer and Joe Belfiore would privately have been expecting to be doing a bit better by this stage of the game, especially now that Windows Phone 8 is officially out in the wild.

And yes, I'm aware that web usage and smartphone sales are two different things, but if we're talking ecosystems (as Microsoft likes to) the former is a pretty important consideration, plus of course we have no figures for the latter.

It's a measure of how far Windows Phone still has to go in the bigger scheme of things that even if it keeps growing at the exact same pace, which statistically becomes increasingly unlikely the higher its actual market share figure gets, we'll still be well into 2015 before Windows Phone gets anywhere near Android and iOS.

For now, Microsoft's best bet would be to analyse the market share given away during 2012 by Symbian (down from 5.76% to 1.51%) and BlackBerry OS (down from 3.51% to 1.59%), and work out how it can get more of that sort of user buying into Windows Phone instead in future.

Don't get me wrong: growth is good, and at least Windows Phone is growing, as opposed to the two rival platforms just mentioned. But as much as a 289% year-on-year increase makes for good headlines, it also serves as a reminder that even more than two years into the smartphone OS race, Windows Phone still has it all to do.

Via WMPowerUser

Read more about: Windows Phone

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11 comments

JanSt / MOD  Jan. 1, 2013 at 17:43

I think it's closer to 291%.

I also think they would've fared better with just 1 solid hardware maker to begin with.
Alliance sounds great, but the flipside is: for the consumer there are suddenly 10 phones that are all pretty samey. Exciting. Remember the first PR shots of the first batch of WP devices? I bet Ballmer couldn't have picked the right phone if asked to point at the LG or Samsung...
Also, all those allianced OEMs were merely dabbling in WP - with another foot firmly in Android territory or 'dumbphone' county. No commitment. Dell - gone. Etc etc... And of course, it would have been much easier to speedily update the OS, deliver bugfixes and what not.
Android was initially called "D.O.A.", ugly, lacking etc... only when handset makers set out to deliver distinguishing features - both in hard- and software, and when Google delivered the desired malware distribution channel...oops...cough...the Playstore, I mean. Only then did Android really take off.
WP has pretty strict hardware requirements (limitations), yet - even with WP8 the HTC 8S and Lumia 820 (e.g.) look confusingly similar (to the casual observer aka the average shopper). While one costs almost 40% more than the other.
And, surprise, delays are still the order of the day.

Elop then comes out and calls supply shortages "a strategic move" - when all WP needs is MORE sales! For more better headlines.

Instore experience is also affected. Phone store staff are struggling to explain the difference between the various Desires and Xperias to interested shoppers. Quite a few sales folks have told me that it's "just easier to pitch a Galaxy" - number higher, price higher, specs better.
Now ask them what they think about pitching WP devices?!

And: Skype.

The end.

Pondlife  Jan. 1, 2013 at 18:17

Meh nonsense figure based on spurious web traffic data.

Stelph  Jan. 2, 2013 at 10:56

Totally agree with the points that JanSt has made, really Windows Phone is the natural evolution of iOS (i.e. it is a closed ecosystem where you can only get apps through approved channels, what you can and cant do is strongly controlled) so Microsoft has to realise that the main things holding it back are fighting the "image" of Apple vs Microsoft and that it will take a big hook to pull people out of one ecosytem and into another, especially if people have a lot invested in iTunes and their apps for example.

Pushing new features/technologies is one way of doing that, as JanSt says another is by properly training/advertising how to switch from Android/iOS to Windows Phone (not just stupid dancing/joking adverts, show the phone actually doing something).

Personally id want to see Microsoft go for the throat, almost all smartphones/tablets are content consumers (although the Galaxy note is an exception), push Windows Phone and Windows tablets into content creation direction and then make a satirical "response" "im a PC/im a mac" advertisement where the limitations in the iPhone/iPad are highlighted

Pondlife  Jan. 2, 2013 at 12:02

What makes it an evolution rather than just a copycat?
Yeah because we all want training when we switch phones....
Would also say that content creation is far more niche than consuming.

But on the pulling people out of the ecosystem they could try what they did with music on Zune players and give people the wp versions of itunes apps that they own. That said it didn't work too well on Zune....

Good examples of why people shouldn't listen to shop staff Jan, and why those ones arguably should be looking for a new job.. Besides the fact that Samsungs range is just as badly spread as those others.

Stelph  Jan. 2, 2013 at 12:14

True, evolution/copycat position will depend on your point of view I guess. I would argue its an evolution as really iOS has got the touch screen layout more or less nailed, except that the information that you see when you look at the screen is mostly static (except for the date and time) you have to click on things to get the information, where as Windows Phone has Live tiles...... tho are they just a copycat Widget......

True, offering music like that is another way it might work, im sure for Zune in the US they had an offer where they matched spotify's £10 a month fee but allowed you to pick 10 tracks a month to keep forever, if they offered that in the UK for Windows Phone I think that would be a huge hook as well

JanSt / MOD  Jan. 2, 2013 at 12:43

What makes it an evolution rather than just a copycat?
Yeah because we all want training when we switch phones....
Would also say that content creation is far more niche than consuming.

But on the pulling people out of the ecosystem they could try what they did with music on Zune players and give people the wp versions of itunes apps that they own. That said it didn't work too well on Zune....

Good examples of why people shouldn't listen to shop staff Jan, and why those ones arguably should be looking for a new job.. Besides the fact that Samsungs range is just as badly spread as those others.


Samsung's higher midrange to highend range is a lot tighter than Sony's or HTC's. It's their more budgety stuff and tablets where one loses track. I'm not talking about nonsense nomenclature like Galaxy 3 Mini - which, shape aside, has nothing to do with the SGS3.

Take Sony's letter soup. For over a decade we've been conditioned to take letters as an indicator for the type of range - i.e. N=media-centric, E= enterprise... Sony just go through the alphabet willy nilly.

And lets not go into HTC.

Last year's embarrassment when HTC reps had to go to stores with a handy list of features explaining why the One X beats the SGS3 is self-explanatory.

And get off the staff training issue. That wasn't my point. There IS no staff training. CPW don't want staff that gain knowledge and competence under their tutelage - qualifying knowledge they then can take with them to the next job for a competitor??? No way. That kind of training doesn't exist in Mac-world. And staff get next to no incentive to 'learn'!
Commisssion only for contracts (some) and insurance policies sold.

Why would someone learn about hundreds of handsets - voluntarily? So, of course they push what they prefer; or push something that stands out. That is NOT unique to the phone sector. A bookseller will recommend a bestseller or something s/he likes. S/he won't try and keep up with every niche genre just so...

I maintain: 1 WP device as a show-off would have been the smarter decision. I admit: there is 20/20 hindsight involved. There are arguments pro the handset alliance. But the risks were always there.
Microsoft then quickly turned around in the Nokia deal, and in a quid-pro-quo did just that: crown the uber-WP maker. Too late, and with a company too shaken by its failings to see clearly. A company with a leader who used to peddle MS office and Adobe's products - products that sold themselves for as long as MS were synonymous with computing.

And at a time when the original alliance partners had flops on their hands - massive flops.
Then MS throws more money at the Lumia 900's launch campaign, than any of them made in profits from WP....

And bang: they do it again with the Surface RT. Offend many of their partners. Confuse consumers and sales channels. Botch updates. Call it a "show piece" for limited release - an inspiration for PC makers. Then a turnaround - oh, oops, now we sell it outside our own stores, too. Hey, which is it? Keep it small, or go Best Buy and Harvey Norman?

It's all very similar to the Zune debacle. Which is where? Gone. Microsoft drove the hyperbolic 'internet society', without, it seems, understanding it. The net is borderless. But they thought they could create hype in ONE market?
Hollywood - not a beacon of flexibility - had to learn the challenges of the internet. Movies used to be launched 6-12 months apart in the US and Europe. That is no longer feasible.

You pitch something to Joe in NYC and within minutes Jana in Hunagry knows about it.

Blah blah....

And all the excuses? Elop's "strategic" shortage talk? Come ON!!! It's not having only 10 million Lumias when 20 million people queue. It's having too few of a product that not that many folks are interested in to begin with.

BETAMAX! Was the better VCR system. In every single technical aspect: superior. Years ahead of VHS! Objectively. And all of Sony's clout couldn't make it stick, because of Studios, distribution channels etc etc... Things Sony didn't quite get - which is why after Betamax they pushed into the film business. The distribution business. The content business.

I'm bored now.

:p

Pondlife  Jan. 2, 2013 at 12:49

I think we all are.

JanSt / MOD  Jan. 2, 2013 at 17:02

Nokia in Feb 2011:

Our proposed partnership with Microsoft may not succeed in creating a competitive smartphone platform for high quality differentiated winning smartphones or in creating new sources of revenue for us.

The Windows Phone platform is a very recent, largely unproven addition to the market focused solely on high end smartphones with currently very low adoption and consumer awareness relative to the Android and Apple platforms, and the proposed Microsoft partnership may not succeed in developing it into a sufficiently broad competitive smartphone platform.


Our ability to innovate and customize on the Windows Phone platform may not materialize as expected to enable us to produce smartphones that are differentiated from those of our competitors.

The Microsoft partnership may not achieve in a timely manner the necessary scale, product breadth, geographical reach and localization to be sufficiently competitive in the smartphone market.

We may not succeed in creating a profitable business model when we transition from our royaltyfree smartphone platform to the royaltybased Windows Phone platform due to, among other things, our inability to offset our higher cost of sales resulting from our royalty payments to Microsoft with new revenue sources and a reduction of our operating expenses, particularly our research and development expenses (oops, yeah - 48% LOSS per Lumia sold! )

Nokia's Form 20-F - filed with SEC in March 2011 (PDF)

Martinb111  Jan. 8, 2013 at 12:07

Most Android users browse with a desktop user agent! So this is all just silly!

JanSt / MOD  Jan. 8, 2013 at 14:08

Most Android users browse with a desktop user agent! So this is all just silly!

Where's that? Planet Geekton? Not realistic!

Pondlife  Jan. 8, 2013 at 16:12

I don't know what they mean.

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