What’s the real story with Windows Phone?

In December Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows published Windows Phone Turned the Corner in 2013.  Thurrott is an influential US blogger and his story was picked up by other media.

Thurrott’s story looks at what went to make 2013 a turnaround year for Microsoft’s  smartphone operating system.

However 2013 wasn’t all good news for Windows Phone. In January GigaOm’s Kevin C. Tofel reported a murkier picture in Nokia finishes 2013 with 30M Lumias sold, ending on a falling note. That’s significant as it was the last quarter before Microsoft is expected to take control of the business.

Thurrot writes:

2013 was nothing less than a blockbuster success for Windows Phone, which went from industry also-ran to the undisputed third mobile ecosystem, and is poised to challenge iPhone for the number two spot.

The main thrust of the story is that 12 months earlier Windows Phone was in fourth place, by the end of 2013 it zoomed past BlackBerry into third spot.

Third place, by the way, is just 3.6 percent of the worldwide market for smartphone operating systems. That’s not much. Android is on more than 80 percent and, at the time of writing, Apple’s iPhone was sitting on 12.5 percent.

30 million smartphones in 2013

Overall Nokia sold around 30 million smartphones in 2013. The numbers were looking good until the fourth quarter of the year when they fell back slightly.

Nokia was expected to sell around 10 million phones in the fourth quarter. That number was quoted by analysts after the company’s earnings preview. There are unconfirmed reports the company sold 8.2 million phones in the quarter, that’s less than the 8.8 million Nokia sold in the third quarter.

The drop is larger than it looks because smartphone makers usually get a sales boost in the final three months of the year because Christmas is an important selling period.

Of course Nokia doesn’t exist in a vacuum, Apple launched two new iPhones during the fourth quarter to the usual rapturous reception. Yet the news comes at a crucial time for Microsoft which paid more than US$ billion to buy Nokia’s phone business. If the reports are correct, Nokia could join the list of urgent items on the new CEO’s agenda.

One thought on “What’s the real story with Windows Phone?

  1. Personally I think this is still in the ‘too early to call’ basket. Windows Phone came to the market once Android and Apple have well and truly staked out respective territories at the high and ‘everywhere but kind of looks like the wild west’ ends of the spectrum. Being the third way was always going to be a long term game and I think this is being borne out. Probably the most interesting statistic if you could get your hands on it would be how many Windows Phone sales are Lumia 520s versus the others. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Windows Phone is gaining ground at the low end with a strategy of having a cheap device that just works. This is a good opening gambit mostly because Windows Phone isn’t going to challenge iPhone on it’s home ground but Android is weak at the low end because of the lack of an overall narrative, particularly with regards to updates and hardware requirements. However, the money is made at the top end and Windows Phone has never really had impact here. Good phones, yes and with the best camera you can get but not the OMG factor of an iPhone or a new Galaxy S. Turning a corner would be something like round the block queues in five major US cities on release day for the flagship phone and although Apple is struggling to generate that these days Windows Phone is a long way from that. Beating Blackberry to third place? That isn’t turning a corner, it’s actually not even relevant.

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