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Monday, 04 August 2008 04:46

Microsoft left with Apple and BlackBerry pie on face as it misses own Windows Mobile sales targets

Microsoft made it quite clear earlier in the year that it would grow the Windows Mobile platform by 50 percent this year and next. It also expected to have shipped 20 million units by the end of June. Actually, it turns out to have missed that sales projection by some 2 million. Could the iPhone and BlackBerry be to blame?

"Fifty percent growth is the minimum" were the words that came out of the mouth of Eddie Wu, Managing Director of OEM Embedded Devices for Microsoft Asia.

That is 50 percent for 2008 sales and 50 percent for 2009 sales. The math suggests that, based on 11 million Windows Mobile units shifted in 2007, when the fiscal year ended in June 2008 it should have sold some 16.5 million. In fact it has done better than that so what is the problem?

Well, Reuters were reporting earlier in the year that Microsoft were confident of 20 million sales by the end of the fiscal year. Unfortunately, the reality is a little different: 2 million shy of 20 million actually.

OK, so 18 million licenses sold in 2008 is not bad going, but it is considerably short of that 20 million sales projection. And that is not good news for Microsoft. No surprise then, according to Washington Post reporters, that it is already playing the blame game.

"The company blamed delayed launches from handset makers for the missed target" WP says, adding that analysts suggest delays in shipping the Sony Ericsson Xperia handset could have dented the figures badly. Microsoft was expecting the first SE Windows Mobile handset to ship in Q1, and it didn't.

Of course, the really clever money is looking beyond Sony Ericsson and focusing sharply on Apple instead. Surely the launch of the iPhone 3G must have made more than a little impact upon the potential sales of Windows Mobile phones?

Has Microsoft been the victim of an Apple and BlackBerry pie in the face? Find out on page 2...


The July launch of the Jesus Phone could hardly have made a bigger media splash, with the hype building for many weeks before it actually happened. Anyone in the market for a serious smartphone would seriously have been considering it at the very least.

Even if the iPhone 3G was not on the shopping list, the media speculation over a new breed of smartphone handsets looming large to imitate its style and functionality would be enough to make all but the most loyal of Microsoft mobile fanboys to delay a purchase while they wait and see what emerges.

Unless, that it, Windows Mobile has just lost its appeal in the increasingly style and fashion led mobile consumer marketplace. Microsoft has a populist consumer mountain to climb if it is to break free of the 'business only' branding its mobile platform has been encumbered with.

It appears to be only too well aware of this, recently assuring anyone who would listen that it was to address issues surrounding music functionality for the OS in future upgrades for example.

I am not sure that will be enough. Not least because Microsoft is facing a two-pronged attack in the smartphone sector: Apple coming from the consumer flank with the iPhone, and RIM performing a pincer movement with the enterprise oriented BlackBerry also finding its consumer feet.

Certainly, in the light of the disappointing sales figures for 2008, it looks like the plan for a 40 percent global share of the smartphone market by 2012 will have to go on the back burner. Shifting 18 million units, and growing the business, are to be applauded.

But I fear that when you miss your own sales predictions, targets that have been hyped in the media loud and clear, then the applause is likely to be drowned out by the sound of glass being broken by stone throwing marketing types.

Let's wait and see how the Redmond giant does with WIndows Mobile 7, I guess...

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