We couldn't make this stuff up. Nobody could. Despite the savior of Microsoft's mobile "strategy" appearing not to be a complete disaster (as we thought it would be), Windows Phone 7 actually lost market share for Microsoft at the end of last year.
Yes, that's right. The knight in shining armor that rode in on its mighty steed and relegated the old Windows Mobile platform to the scrap heap of history turned out to be more of a peasant tottering around on a mule. The latest numbers from comScore, the organization of the atrociously capitalized name that tracks these sorts of things, indicate that Microsoft's market share has fallen since Windows Phone 7 hit devices last fall.
OK, now for the requisite caveats. Windows Phone 7 only hit the market in late October in Europe and in early November in the United States. Some of the time period in comScore's January 2011 numbers includes the old Windows Mobile era, then. And, to be fair, Windows Phone 7 is brand-new. Said Microsoft official Achim Berg of the share numbers:
"We introduced a new platform with Windows Phone 7, and when you do that it takes time to educate partners and consumers on what you're delivering, and drive awareness and interest in your new offering. We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run; Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning."
Yeah, OK, fine. But really, losing market share right out of the gate? With all the press coverage and the TV ads and whatnot? It's not exactly building momentum, is it? One wonders whether Stephen Elop, former Microsoft executive and now CEO of Nokia (yes, it's still in business) is reconsidering his decision to stiff-arm Google and instead partner with Microsoft and Windows Phone 7. (Actually, he might not be, given that Microsoft is apparently forking over $1 billion to Nokia as part of the deal.)
Up at the top of the standings, Google's Android platform took over at No. 1 for the first time, displacing RIM and the BlackBerry mobile OS. Down in third place is Apple, which, despite the hype the iPhone constantly gets, boasts "only" about 25 percent market share. Microsoft isn't even really an also-ran at this point, though, as its 8 percent share (down from 9.7 percent in the pre-WP7 era) has it much closer to Palm than to third-place Apple.
We're not sure what -- if anything -- is wrong with Windows Phone 7, but technology moves quickly, especially in the mobile world. Android has rocketed up the market-share table over the last few years. If Windows Phone 7 is going to do the same thing, it's going to have to do it from a big hole that it has dug itself in its first few months of existence. We can't really see why users would adopt Microsoft's mobile OS en masse, so low market share might be a continuing condition. But falling market share? That's just embarrassing -- and borderline unbelievable.