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So did Windows Phone 7 'bomb in US'?

America says 'meh', apparently

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Comment The Windows 7 phone seems to have met with a lukewarm reception in the United States.

Despite the huge amount of promotional activity and media seeding, Microsoft only shifted 40,000 handsets in the first day of sales in the US, according to unnamed sources supplying unverified data.

Thestreet.com is quoting that figure from an unnamed analyst, which News Factor quickly picked up and compared with the 600,000 iPhone 4's which were pre-ordered on day one, and the 200,000 Android handsets that Google reckons get activated every day.

News Factor missed the global nature of those latter numbers, but wouldn't let geography interfere with a good Microsoft-bashing.

40,000 devices is still embarrassing, even if it's just the USA and leaves out the 90,000 or so Microsoft employees who'll be getting one, and even if figures elsewhere are rather better. But before drawing any conclusions it's worth thinking about the numbers.

In the UK some handsets certainly sold out, proving that demand outstripped supply, and elsewhere on its site News Factor even reports that some US shops have sold out too, so even if one assumes that operators kept the supply small in the expectation of failure that's still worthy of note.

So what went wrong? According to the experts quoted by TheStreet it was the complexity of the offering, and the fact that it wasn't launched on a Friday:

"Mondays aren't great launch days," said Michael Cote of the Cote Collaborative. "[Microsoft] poured all that cash into it but they lost track of the fact that Fridays or Saturdays are the best launch days."

Apparently Americans don't like having too many options either: "In the phone world, our surveys show that there should be a choice between A or B," the analyst explained.

We find that hard to believe of a country where ordering a sandwich involves a detailed 10-minute exchange.

There's also talk of operator-owned shops not bigging up the handsets enough, and there's probably some truth in that. Apple bypassed the operators but got away with it 'cos they were first, Android manufacturers are working with operators, but Microsoft has made it clear it considers the end user to be a Microsoft customer, and their interests will come first.

That means no operator-variant software, so everyone gets upgraded at the same time; it also means no restriction on VoIP apps or anything else that would interfere with the operator's business, so less incentive for the operators to big up the brand.

But we can't help thinking that unsubstantiated figures from an unknown source smell of a media that wants to see Microsoft fail. Some of us are old enough to remember when Microsoft was the good guy, fighting against the mammoth IBM - but we're in a minority these days and "The Beast of Redmond" still inspires terror.

Windows Phone 7 is a nice platform, within its limits, and we'll wait to see some proper figures before deciding if the Americans have recognised that. ®

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