Microsoft Is Losing Mobile Subscribers Faster Than It Can Gain Them

When you run the numbers on Microsoft's mobile platform, it doesn't look good. Despite the debut of Windows Phone 7 about a year and a half ago, the company is losing mobile users faster than it can add them.

For a three-month period ending in February, Microsoft nabbed a paltry 3.9 per cent of the market, slipping 1.3 percentage points from November and 3.8 points from a year ago, the latest figures from comScore show. Redmond currently lags far behind even BlackBerry, which has been dealing with massive problems of its own, and snagged 13.4 per cent of the space in February.

Microsoft's platform has been on a freefall since the end of 2007, the year Apple just about started digging graves for these second-tier platforms by introducing the iPhone. At that point, Microsoft still controlled 36 per cent, according to comScore, but by the end of 2009, that figure had been slashed in half to 18 per cent.

For the record, Apple and Google are sitting pretty, currently speaking for 30.1 and 50.1 per cent of the OS share respectively.

So what, if anything, can Microsoft do to get it back? Or at least, can it stop losing ground? It's banking pretty hard on the new Nokia Lumia 900. While it's a step in the right direction, Microsoft is on a downward trajectory, and it needs to do something drastic to get people interested in its OS. [ReadWriteWeb]



    For starters they can actually get carriers around the world to support it, they could put out more than just their "shopping list" ad, they could actively work on hiring people or working with more companies to get all the apps that people use on it, they could drop the prices of xbox live apps down to a reasonable price AND they could finally add more advanced networking options like VPN support and custom dns addresses.

    The overall smartphone market is absolutely exploding, with serious double-figure growth across the board. Slipping a couple percentage points in *market share* is NOT the same as "losing subscribers".

    Granted, WP7 has had a slow start. But so did Android in its first year (WP7 has been out since Oct 2010) and we have yet to see the results of the Lumias in the US. Yes, MS' share is not very great - but the marketing push has only just begun. Let's see what the situation is like in 6 months time.

      Yeah, even in microsoft's roadmap for WP they're only going to take a mass market approach when wp8 comes out. Hopefully they can do it because I love the OS, but I still think they need to address the issues I posted.

      Where is this marketing push? I've seen scant evidence of it, compared to the giant shove Nokia gave the N9. OK, I did see the TV ad again during the V8 Supercars on Sunday but surely they can't be targeting that market or only advertising during the day?

    Nokia is doing something very smart when marketing the Lumia range, they are putting Windows Phone somewhere small on their ads and this is part of the problem with marketing from Microsoft themself. Nokia is a trusted brand so if people don't see the WP7 logo first then they think Nokia and hopefully buy.

    The Windows and Microsoft brands has been hammered by Apple and Google so much that people start believing the whole Microsoft is bad and that isn't the case, sometimes true but mostly false I think. Microsoft could learn a thing or two from Nokia by not splashing the WP7 all over the place and maybe change the name of it. BenJ is right as well with his idea of working with hardware makers and telcos more to help push it more. Microsoft should also drop the WP7 and change the name, keep the Tango/Apollo name for WP8, it isn't a mouthful like Windows Phone 7/8.

    Im a big android fan. i used the L800 few weeks ago and i have to say i was fantastic. i was thinking about getting the L900 when it comes out but then i realized theres next to no apps on WP. :(

      I got a big surprise on the weekend when I visited my brother. He got an LG Optimus 7 on Catch of the Day for $115 or something, which is was saving to use as a spare. I got the impression he didn't like my Focus when we were using it in the US for in-car navigation but one of his kid's phones died a few weeks ago and he has been on WP7 ever since and he absolutely loves it. I specifically asked him about some of the things I've read around here from Android users and he basically dismissed all of them. He is more than happy with the range of apps, he thinks IE is much faster than the Android browser and he reckons the WP7 Facebook app is way better than the Android one. He still loves his Galaxy Tab 8.9 though, so its not like he is ready to give up on Android, more that he is very impressed with WP7.5 and the ecosystem around it.

        The Android facebook app is all kinds of shit, so that wouldn't surprise me.

        I love the look and feel of WP7, but the app range is pretty lousy. Sure, they have lots of apps, covering almost all of the functionality you can think of, but they never managed to get the big players on board. They only got skype this morning. SKYPE for chris'sakes! That should have been there on the day it came out. They really need to get the youtubes and the facebooks and the skypes to start treating the platform seriously before eight roles into to town or there's basically no hope.

    ffs, Harvey Norman have made a better ad showing why you should buy a WP7 than Microsoft.

    Do MS just not get advertising?

      I loved MS's "really?" ads from last year. I thought they were hilarious and made a good point. What/where is Harvey Norman's ad? The only 3rd party WP7 ad I've seen is Allphones pushing the Lumia 800.

      It's not for lack of effort. There's plenty of WP7 (specifically Lumia) ads all around Sydney city bus stops and Martin Place. Their efforts are largely focussed on the American market. The whole "Smoked by Windows Phone" thing just blew up in their faces after they reneged on a deal because of some loophole in a guy's Galaxy Nexus.

    Still haven't seen ANY Windows Phone advertising :S

    Here's why I think this is happening:

    1. There is no actual "Windows Phone". What I mean here is that there is a Blackberry Phone, iPhone and then Everything Else Phone. The iPhone and the Blackberry are very obvious and you only need to see one for a split second to know what it is.. every other phone, whether it be Symbian, Android or Windows (or others) is identified only by the manufacturer rather than the operating system.

    2. There has been stuff all advertising outside of the regular techy channels, at least to my knowledge. What.. do they think because it's "Windows" it's going to sell itself?? Just because everyone has pretty much no choice but to use Windows O/S on their PCs (excluding Mac's.. obviously!!) and those that do make the choice to run Linux or something else aren't really in the majority, doesn't mean the phone that runs a similar O/S is going to immediately sell. In fact because there has been so much bad press on Windows over the years, in the mainstream media, it's actually going to take a lot of advertising to get people excited.

    But I think it really boisl down to number 1. There is no "Windows Phone".. it's just a Nokia, Samsung or whatever phone "running" Windows. They need to make it look different; define the phone.. so when you see it for half a second you immediately think "Oh they have a Windows Phone".

      You can say that but I remember the 6 o'clock news showing sheeple queuing up at Harvey Norman for the midnight release of Windows 98 and you'd hardly say Win 95 or 98 were anything to get even remotely excited about. I also think the Lumia phones will come to be associated with WinPhone, so that recognition will occur.

    Poach some Apple marketting/advertising people. Microsofts marketting is terrible. There ad's suck.
    Release some hardware at least endorsed by Microsoft, IE a Microsoft style nexus phone thats branded Microsoft. Same with there PC's and laptops.

      I think you'll find that Apple owns their own marketing firm. I'm sure they bought one years ago

    Could Microsoft teaming up with Nokia be alienating their other hardware companies like Samsung and HTC?

    Microsoft has deep pockets, they need to assist their hardware companies in advertising the phones, put them into TV Shows and movies.

    And try and get other companies like Sony on board with Windows Phone!

    They also need to talk and teach their carriers. If I walk into an Optus or Telstra shop, I guarantee they will know next to nothing about Windows Phone or why you would buy it over iPhone and Android.

      It already is. There was a great article a while back describing the whole Nokia/MS relationship.

      Basically, Nokia went with WP7 because Google wasn't going to give them special consideration vs their other hardware partners, and they didn't feel they would be able to compete in the cut-throat Android market. MS on the other hand, gave them special preference, which is why there's a lot more co-operation with things like Nokia's map data being used in WP7.

      Good for Nokia, but not sure how good it would be for the other OEMs. I can only see them pushing out nominal WP7 efforts in the future, much like their half-assed offerings right now.

    A big step in the right direction for MS would be to commit to supporting current models through upgrades to future iterations of their OS for a reasonable time. They're the biggest software company in the world, surely they can do that? It's not like they even have many phone models out or have to rely on individual manufactures like Android- MS is in charge in their equation.

    That sort of solid commitment would go a long way to inspiring buyer confidence, because as I see it the biggest black mark against MS is the perception that it's an orphaned platform. And the perception of obsolescence is as good as its reality when people stop buying your stuff.

    MS missed the boat. to concerned with desktop/laptop OS than emerging markets. they had a damn tablet windows os years ago and still completely missed the opportunity. i was using a fujitsu tablet over 10 years ago with windows CE loaded, what the hell happened?

      To be fair, the Windows 7 Tablets were frankenstein's monsters who essentially ran miniaturised laptop components. They were never going to sell vs a dedicated tablet with a touchscreen interface. But I agree, Microsoft began this gen sitting pretty and squandered every opportunity. WP7 should have been out 3 years ago so by now it might be somewhat beyond Apollo.

    There are a few things that I think are issues

    - Android handsets come out a lot more frequently so Telcos push them as the latest and greatest.
    - The Nokia partnership is alienating other manufacturers so the focus on Android
    - App pricing is still an issue. Xbox live doesn't justify a $0.99 game being $4. Also look at the app deals of the day and you see that most of the discounted apps for WP started at $3 for things like list apps.
    - App availability is a lot better, but still not great. Biggest issue is that apps appear a lot sooner on other platforms. By the time a Windows Phone version of Draw Something comes out everybody else will be bored with it. Angry Birds Space? Probably never coming.

      I have to disagree with you on the Nokia. The others never really pushed WP7, HTC would have been the biggest maker of WP7 handsets as they released about three or four I think but still did nothing. If none of the original makers weren't pushing it then how can they be alienated?

      As for programmes or apps for the platform, you have to remember that the iPhone came out first so everyone created apps for that platform. Then Android came out and they did that platform, M$ has been released and it's slow at the moment but growing as it was for Android in the begining.

      I do agree with the issue of cost for apps, they are high but this coudl be because there aren't many at the moment. iPhone has something like ten to 50 apps all doing the very same thing.

      One thing that is hurting the WP7 platform (I shoudl have mention this above) is that M$ think local market instead of worldwide market and this is where iPhone had success that helped it being pushed throughout the world. WP7 = US Market first and world second. iOS = world market first and no second

        I can see what you are saying about HTC etc. but my take is that they were just testing the waters with a new platform. Then Nokia came along and they all went "So you want us to use your platform, while you are giving billions of dollars to our competition? Good luck with that"

        It think the fact that developers are co-developing for iOS and Android is going to make it REALLY hard for Windows Phone to gain traction. Most stories I see have "Available for iOS, Android version coming soon" with no mention of WP at all.

        I completely agree with you about Microsoft thinking very locally. Hopefully Nokia can fight that.

    there was a huge amount of lumia advertising in Martin Place a couple weeks ago, they took over the main stage and put up huge screens. All the banners were turned into WP7 testing screens. To be honest I don't think this is the best approach, but we'll see what else they might try.

    I am currently pretty happy with my Galaxy Nexus/Android. But in a year and a half I will be taking a careful look at where Windows Phones are at, as I really like the look of the Lumia. I would even reconsider going back to Apple if they had bigger screens (they look so tiny to me now that I have my Nexus).

    Of course, the big assumption is that MS really care all that much. It is not the main part of their business and whilst it is important going forward, it is just an extra bit of business for them. You'd have to think they are far more concerned with getting Win8 right for tablets, as tablet sales directly threaten their core business.

      It was reported that M$ is making a large lose on WP7 platform. M$ does have a habit of pulling the plug on things if they do not make money. Also...Steve has stated that the WP platform is part of their future and will continue to grow/expand it.

        Please refrain from "M$", it's juvenile.

        Also, I wouldn't say that's a true assessment. The original Xbox was a huge money sink for Microsoft in its entire first generation, it didn't even pull a profit until the 360 came around. The smartphone game is one they can't afford to sit out on, so they'll pour every cent they have into making WP7 succeed. They've already given cash incentives to developers and are literally giving phones away for free in America (Burned by Windows Phone promotion).

    upgrade the hardware and i will use wp regardless apps.. apps comes later.. hardware, u cant change that.. :)

    Really did try to like it, but it really has nothing on the current smartphones that are around. Very limited in what you can do on the phones (regarding simple things like wallpaper and ringtones), and it just doesn't have the app market to compete. Plus the pricing of some of the arcade games (particularly here in aus) was hard to justify

    I don't find it surprising at all. That home page looks horrible. So bad in fact that I wouldn't even bother to try it out. If they made it more appealing, maybe more people would be interested. I have an xbox and navigating through it is night mare. If its the same for the phone, they have no hope

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