Microsoft Claims 1.5 Million Windows Phone 7 Handsets Sold

In its first six weeks on the market, Microsoft claims that some 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 handsets have been "sold" -- but those figures may be less significant than they first appear.

That's because the numbers quoted by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) do not represent phones actually sold through the channel to the end user. Instead, they are phones sold by handset manufacturers to mobile network operators and retailers, which in turn sell them to end-users. That is, those are figures for phones sold "in" the channel, not sold "through" the channel.

Still, for Microsoft, it's no reason to pout.

"We are pleased that phone manufacturers sold over 1.5 million phones in the first six weeks [of availability], which helps build customer momentum and retail presence," Achim Berg, corporate vice president of Microsoft's mobile communications business and marketing group, said in a statement online. Berg was careful to be clear that the company was talking about "sell in" numbers.

However, for one mobile analyst, the message is mixed.

"The problem with channel numbers is you never know how many the carriers bought and never sold," Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, told InternetNews.com. The important figure is the actual number of end user activations of phones.

Gold said he is concerned short-term regarding Windows Phone 7's sales performance so far, although longer-term he thinks that what Microsoft needs is slower growth with genuine momentum if it's going to persevere in the marketplace.

"It's concerning because it's a lower number of [actual] users [than 1.5 million]," Gold added, saying he was guessing at activation numbers. "If they're at 1.2 million activations, that means they're activating about 200,000 phones a week versus 300,000 activations a day for Google Android."

The company also boasts some 4,000 apps for the Windows Phones already, and Berg claims it has 18,000 developers signed up to write more.

Windows Phone 7 handsets first became available in the U.S. on Nov. 8. It was first announced in February at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.


Microsoft, smartphone, Windows Phone, Windows Phone 7, mobile os