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Microsoft sold twice as many Windows Phones the week before Christmas versus last year

Our CES interview with Microsoft's Greg Sullivan

CES is turning out to be an interesting event for 4K HD TVs, various connected technologies and smart cars. Smartphones are mostly relegated to display status, with companies preferring their own off-site venues for announcements. Microsoft though is here, taking private meetings with vendors and the press.

Yesterday, we sat down with Greg Sullivan, Director on Windows Phone at Microsoft. The news was positive and while no new announcements were revealed, Microsoft did have some thoughts on the coming company reorganization, acquisition of Nokia in the coming year and the sleeper-hit Lumia 520.

Sales are strong

One of the most interesting facets that we have had intuitions on is in regards to Windows Phone sales. Devices like the Lumia 925, 1020, 1520 and the budget focused Lumia 520 have been popping up on TV ads and various sales throughout the holiday season.

Microsoft didn’t disclose specific numbers, but we’ve heard from internal sources that December was one of their busiest months ever for Windows Phone sales and Sullivan confirmed that they have sold twice as many Windows Phones during the week before Christmas over last year. Those numbers are a solid indication that Windows Phone is catching on, albeit at a steadily increasing clip. Perhaps it would have been more revealing if sales with 300% or higher, showing Microsoft’s OS becoming the 'next big thing', but the US market is notoriously competitive. With the new iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxies sitting on the same shelves, the market is tough. Combine that with Nokia's diminished brand-name in the States, and the challenge is substantial.

AT&T, while also not disclosing specific numbers, seems pleased with the Lumia 2520 bundles which tied into Windows Phone purchases. The Lumia 2520, Nokia’s first Windows 8 tablet, was a gamble for the company who don’t have too much experience with large-screen computers.  But the option for phone-buying customers to also get a similarly designed Tablet was evidently a good marketing choice.

The fight against Android and iOS

Microsoft still sees plenty of opportunity against Android, who essentially control 80% of the smartphone market (mostly due to Samsung). Sullivan comments that “We took a different approach to the user experience” and so far, they feel vindicated, especially with iOS and other operating systems “going flat” and mimicking Windows Phone’s stronger points for UI design.

Microsoft certainly is aiming for that low-end area where Android still struggles and Apple is nowhere to be seen. Having a (more) unified ecosystem, with SkyDrive and Skype at the center, is Microsoft’s advantage, according to Sullivan and “2014 portends a whole lot more of the integrations” with Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox.

“Fundamentals are spot on”, the reorganization and updates

Microsoft so far appears pleased with the core features of the OS, refining and expanding the feature set through more frequent updates. But there is still much to do. Sullivan generally seems excited about the ‘coming together’ of Windows Phone and Windows 8 under Terry Myerson, executive Vice President of the Operating Systems group at Microsoft.

Myerson’s task is to get both teams to start working together and to think about long term roadmaps. Sullivan notes that this is “going to lead to some exciting things” in 2014. Sullivan thinks this will be a bigger deal than the Nokia acquisition in terms of impact. That’s because Nokia and Microsoft had already been working extensively together for the last few years, where the reorganization will open up new and creative opportunities. That’s not to dismiss the significance of the Nokia gambit, as Sullivan is enthusiastic about both OS and hardware teams finally being able to talk openly about future plans.

Even though Nokia and Microsoft work closely together, they currently don’t share all information. Microsoft has its OS secrets as does Nokia. That’s just how companies operate to prevent leaks to their competitors. With the acquisition deal – expected to be finalized in the come months – this will all change. Transition teams are already in place and are planning on how to hit the ground running when the deal is completed.

In terms of Windows Phone 8.1, we’ve heard from our own sources of shared libraries overlapping by up to 70% as a goal for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 (Update 1). Currently it’s more around 33% of shared core libraries. That increase will allow greater ability for developers to “code once and code for all” when making apps for Microsoft’s platform. We’ve also heard hints of shared Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS stacks, allowing functionality of apps to act the same on those platforms. SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, will also play a more significant role. Sullivan would not confirm this information to us, but the 8.1 (or whatever it may be called) should be feature packed.

It is clear that Sullivan sees Windows Phone OS as fundamentally “spot on”. That means any rumors of them scrapping the UI or dramatic changes to the core of how the OS looks and feels are probably just a product of wild imaginations.  Still, the forthcoming – though never acknowledged by Microsoft – 8.1 update for Windows Phone should shake some things up for current owners.

Speaking of, current Windows Phone 8 devices, including the Lumia 520, are expected to still receive future updates, including ‘Blue’ or Windows Phone 8.1. That update is expected to be announced in April during Microsoft’s Build conference in San Francisco.

The Lumia 520 and Lumia halo-effect

The Lumia 520, by most accounts, is one of the most popular Windows Phone to date. It doesn’t garner the headlines, but it sells. In fact it’s one of the top ways people are experiencing Windows Phone these days.

How that happened is what Sullivan refers to as a “halo effect” from devices like the Lumia 1020. Specifically the ad campaign “the Recital” running frequently on TV. That ad boasts a hilarious example of why the Lumia 1020’s camera is the best in the room, but it’s also the ad that gets people into the doors of AT&T. Microsoft actually saw a spike in Lumia 520 sales after those ads ran heavily back in August, 2013.

Sullivan calls this a “proof point of our strategy” for having a spectrum of devices running at various price points (vertical hardware, but a horizontal OS paradigm). Microsoft is very proud that the Lumia 520 provides the same core experience as the higher end Lumias, something that Android struggles with these days.

But the Lumia 520’s success is not without its problems too. In fact, due to it becoming a hit in countries like India, many users are getting angst ridden over the fact that some brand new games (and a handful of apps) can’t run on their phones. That’s because the Lumia 520 only has 512 MB of RAM, which is a limiting factor. Granted, developers can “optimize” for 512 MB, but that takes times and it leads to frustrated users during initial release cycles. When 512 MB devices were the minority, this was less of a concern. Much has changed though since those days.

Sullivan is confident that this problem will go away as development companies start prioritizing their apps and games for 512 MB devices “out the gate”, targeting the newer, larger demographic of users from the get go. Also, newer phones like the Lumia 525 come with 1 GB of RAM and still maintain the lower price point, offering consumers yet another option.

Xbox Music and updated hubs

We asked Sullivan about the recent release of the Xbox Music app for Windows Phone 8 devices. It was a seemingly odd move as Windows Phone users already have a Music app on the phone. The reason should be obvious: it allows Microsoft to dynamically update core services by having them removed from the OS directly. That means in forthcoming major OS updates, we’ll see Music pulled out and treated as an app instead.

Will that happen with other services? Microsoft was coy on the matter only stating “For things that make sense, we’ll look to do that”. While users may want “everything built it”, the fact of the matter is it is much easier to update services via app updates than whole OS refreshes. This a lesson that Google has learned with Android, who has pulled more and more out of the OS and put them into the Play Store. It’s an interesting strategy and it should allow Windows Phone to stay more competitive. The question is what, if any, other services will this apply to?

Going forward in 2014 and ongoing challenges

If there is one common complaint Microsoft and Nokia had in regard to awareness of their product, it’s Instagram. Both companies are thrilled to have the service available finally on Windows Phone, but both companies lament the “lag in perception” by the media and even store clerks about that fact. It’s frustrating to hear sales reps still unaware of the this (and many other) ‘win’ for Microsoft in late 2013. Hopefully that will change with time.

One thing that seems evident to us in our meetings with Microsoft and Nokia is that both companies are very excited about 2014. Windows Phone is finally being accepted as the “third way”, developers are jumping on board, product awareness is expanding and both the current Microsoft reorganization and Nokia acquisition gives fresh start to those directly involved.

Will it turn into significant market share in the US? Will Microsoft finally make significant inroads against Android and iOS? The process has started, momentum is present and the unification of the Windows ecosystem could be a juggernaut.

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Reader comments

Microsoft sold twice as many Windows Phones the week before Christmas versus last year

116 Comments

Honestly twice the sales over 2012 does not mean much because in Q3 2013(8.8 million) itself Nokia sold twice the lumias than it did in Q4 2012 (4.6 million).

I am hoping for at least 10 million Lumia sales in Q4 2013 because of the holiday season.

If 8.8 million were sold on Q3, and the article states that in just one week sales doubled the total amount of 2013, that's more than 16 million in deed

I think the article refers to 2012 when it mentioned "last year" not 2013. But in any case, double the 4M 2012 sales, plus the 2013 sales, and it still comes to 16M total. But I also have a feeling that "last year" refers to "week before Christmas in 2012" and not to the whole year of 2012. But whatever that might be, it is a good indication that WP8 is gaining general acceptability and awareness in the U.S., which is a wonderful thing and augurs well for WP8 in 2014!

^----- This seems to be more likely.  Double sales of the week before Christmas as compared to the same time period in 2012.  Either way, it's a good sign of improvements.  2014 needs to be a banner year for Windows Phone.  Improving slowly isn't really a good way to move the needle.  The thought was, with the release of Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone would overtake iPhone as the #2 in the smartphone pecking order worldwide.  WP is still too far from that possibility for comfort.  Maybe Windows Phone doesn't need to be big like Android, but as some developers have commented - 10% or more market share would be a huge milestone for the phone OS and would force all games and app developers to add Windows Phone as a permanent 3rd OS to launch their content, instead of lagging WP content launches or neglecting to do so at all.

My thinking: Microsoft's buyout of Nokia's hardware & services division will help improve quality and release cycles on new hardware.  Microsoft can do more to push Windows Phone with great hardware on all 4 major carriers in the US and continue to push great "unlock" phones worldwide.  But running actual names for these phones could be better as well.  The whole 920, 925, 928, 1020, 1520 monikers are a bit confusing and boring.  The leaked name of the long-delayed Nokia Lumia Icon seems like a step in the right direction.  Getting better branding is a big deal.  iPhone is massively popular just like Galaxy.  If Microsoft can get the Lumia and its family of phones in the same league as Xbox, they'll be rolling incredibly well.  I'd like to see more variations of phones that use different materials like polycarbonite and aluminum, high and low end.  The 1020 high end camera is great, but I'd gladly trade it for a solid 20MP lens in a sleeker phone with a beautiful aluminum or VaporMg casing.

^----- This seems to be more likely.  Double sales of the week before Christmas as compared to the same time period in 2012.  Either way, it's a good sign of improvements.  2014 needs to be a banner year for Windows Phone.  Improving slowly isn't really a good way to move the needle.  The thought was, with the release of Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone would overtake iPhone as the #2 in the smartphone pecking order worldwide.  WP is still too far from that possibility for comfort.  Maybe Windows Phone doesn't need to be big like Android, but as some developers have commented - 10% or more market share would be a huge milestone for the phone OS and would force all games and app developers to add Windows Phone as a permanent 3rd OS to launch their content, instead of lagging WP content launches or neglecting to do so at all.

My thinking: Microsoft's buyout of Nokia's hardware & services division will help improve quality and release cycles on new hardware.  Microsoft can do more to push Windows Phone with great hardware on all 4 major carriers in the US and continue to push great "unlock" phones worldwide.  But running actual names for these phones could be better as well.  The whole 920, 925, 928, 1020, 1520 monikers are a bit confusing and boring.  The leaked name of the long-delayed Nokia Lumia Icon seems like a step in the right direction.  Getting better branding is a big deal.  iPhone is massively popular just like Galaxy.  If Microsoft can get the Lumia and its family of phones in the same league as Xbox, they'll be rolling incredibly well.  I'd like to see more variations of phones that use different materials like polycarbonite and aluminum, high and low end.  The 1020 high end camera is great, but I'd gladly trade it for a solid 20MP lens in a sleeker phone with a beautiful aluminum or VaporMg casing.

Oh, and pushing to get Verizon and T-Mobile behind Windows Phone is crucial.  With T-Mobile on a major offensive and growing more than any other mobile company in the US, getting them to take on more Windows Phones and refreshes could be a great way to surge in the US as consumers start challenging carriers on contracts and affordable monthly plans.

They were comparing the sales in the week before Christmas not the entire year. They didn't sell double in one week than what they sold in one whole year.

Yes, as I said, I suspect that's what it means. But whatever it might be, it is still a good indication that people are beginning to take notice, and not just notice but actually accept and buy WP. This is a good thing and as a WP fan it excites me about the prospect of WP in 2014.

We would have seen a nice spike in that number if Verizon had released the Lumia Icon.  VZW remains paranoid about thier Android phone domiance and couldn't stand to have them outsold during the holidays.  Would love to see the US WP numbers increase at the same rate as the markets overseas.  US Carriers are given too much control.

 

Microsoft/Nokia could have sold more if it wasn't for exclusive AT&T. I would love to get the 1520 but Cheap bitch TMobile is not putting up money.

Not if you know the business. Speaking as someone who used to deal with these matters on a daily basis, there is a significant transfer of money, support and marketing in these exclusivity deals. Nokia could struggle on all networks, or do fairly well on just one (hint, the latter is a better choice when it comes to getting their name out there because it creates exactly the kind of envy you're alluding at).

"Envy"? Try hatred. I used to admire Nokia. Now I despise them as much as AT&T, and the specs are the only reason I would touch any Nokia product. If any other manufacturer takes up the slack I'll never buy anything labeled Nokia again.

Cool, well that's your opinion. With most people, the 'I have this awesome phone and you can't because you're not on X network' does a lot of good for the envy of not only the network but the product itself. Not to mention all the other back-and-forth back-scratching between Nokia and the network that are involved in deals such as this.

Here's a free idea on how Nokia could quadruple the sales of their top models: why not make AT&T exclusive gold/platinum/rhodium versions of the phones for the "envy" fetishists and let normal people on other carriers buy the plain ones?

Wow "hatred" is such a strong word for just a phone so I'm sure your use of the word is just for effect. But I commiserate with you because all these exclusivity is frustrating to me too.

You are theoritical right, but practically wrong. I don't want ATT to promote it. I just want to put all the phones to all carriers, I will promote it. We have evidence the later sells a lot more phones.

It's not just AT&T promoting it. It's AT&T committing to buying and selling N number of units, and AT&T supporting Nokia in marketing efforts (often just paying for some of the non AT&T promotion). It's AT&T committing to training staff, sending communications, raising internal awareness, etc. There is so much involved that isn't quite obvious; it's effectively 'we'll let you have it exclusively if you do this, this, this and this for us'.

these people dont understand that AT&T is Nokia's Customer and buys phone from them and sell them. If other carriers are not giving that support / marketting efforts to sell / buy, why wouldnt have i have exclusive deals.

 

 

Where are these AT&T Marketing commercials? I see MS/Nokia commercials and such, but I don't see this "Big Marketing Push" that people keep talking about. When I walk past an AT&T store, they are advertising Iphone and Samsung. When I ask about WP8, I have to wait for "that one guy who knows these phones".

Like I said, it doesn't always take the form of AT&T doing marketing. Often it's a commitment to buy and sell more stock, or an exchange of money or resources, or many other mural exchanges.

Agreed, especially when it comes to making staff aware and knowledgeable.  Most of us here know what we want before we walk through the doors of our carrier, but a lot of people don't.  If the staff doesn't know anything about it, they won't recommend it, or worse, they will try and persuade someone interested in a WP to the latest Android whatever (ESPECIALLY at T-Mobile).

I hate exclusivity too but for the time being, the benefits outweigh the costs, in my opinion.

Nik you are introducing too much logic into an online thread. Its much easier to just assume Nokia does the carrier deals for no real reason other than being stupid. And I'm sure the carrier deals have nothing at all to do with lumias being much cheaper in the US than their international counterparts.

I used to be able to have logical and enlightening discussions on WP Central comment threads. Alas, with platform popularity we lose exclusivity to a less civil and logical breed of participant.

Exclusivity, ROTFLMAO :0  Anybody who needs an exclusive fracking phone to feel special is a sad, pathetic little critter indeed.

Weigh that against the money that AT&T puts into the launch of the device because of the exclusivity, and it's not as much as you think.

Why exactly should T-Mobile put up money?!? I (and many other rational T-Mobile customers) would simply buy the phone for full, normal retail price (just like we buy other phones) IF IDIOT NOKIA JUST LET US.

You need money to purchase the phone to sell it, right? If they think it's not worth getting a new phones from Nokia. Then no matter if everyone is willing to pay full price or not, there are no phones to sell, like what happened right now only NL925 and NL520.

The 521 is very successful on T-Mobile because its cheap. Meanwhile the 925 is barely a blip on the statistics radar because most people willing to pay $500+ for a phone are probably getting iPhone or galaxy. You might be different, but the American market right now is dominated by two groups; people who get expensive phones through contracts, or people who get budget phones off contract. That's why I think Nokia knows what they are doing when they focus their high end releases on the carrier that is willing to subsidize it the most (ATT).
Edit: disclosure. Im one of those T-Mobile customers that are to cheap to pay 500+ when great options like L520 are available. Whereas if I were still letting ATT rape me with contract prices, I would have no problem getting latest high end Lumia for $100 on contract.

There is also the very obvious fact that TMobile does zilch for marketing the 925. The only people buying the 925 at TMobile are probably TMobile customers who also read WPCentral AND either go to a TMobile store or spend an unnecessary amount of time hunting for the device on TMobile's website.

This article was very reassuring and I for one am glad to be in the Windows Ecosystem... It's going to be a good year!!! (^_-)-☆

Here is the problem with that as I see it. Touch screen desktops and laptops are basically a parlor trick:  You use the touch for the first five minutes that you own the device or when you are showing a friend for the first time and then rarely use it again.  The market certainly has not shown enthusiasm for touch screen all in ones. Some of the all in ones that can lie on the table like a giant tablet are interesting and the convertible laptop style devices are interesting although questionably usable for most people and the rest are meh.  

I only use the touch screen on my Acer when the lousy trackpad quits working and I need to reboot or logout to fix the damned trackpad (and this machine cost more than a grand and is less than a year old).  Then I have to clean my fingerprints off of the screen. Like I said, meh. 

Its definitely more than 10 million lumias sold, article talks about us only, I'm sure globally we will see something near 12 million lumias sold, u heard it here first, now take shower

I wish people would stop saying that Android has 80% of the market. Until the market is saturated, "market share" means nothing conclusive. While I'm sure Android has over half, we can't just declare them having "80% of the market"

That's exactly what you said. In the 6th paragraph, it says "while Android pretty much owns 80% of the market". Nowhere in existence does Android have 80% of the US market. It has maybe 50%-60%, but not 80%. Reports come out that Android does have 80% worldwide though.
So basically either Daniel was wrong in saying that they have an 80% market share in the US or you're wrong by just discounting most of the planet by only including first-world countries.

How about getting off your high horse? So the figures were wrong or the article was misleading. But the article is very US-focused (the only network it mentions is AT&T after all), so logically I assumed you were also talking about the same. And the US smartphone market share is oversaturated. That's what I was referring to and nothing else.

Was there any indication that Att might offer the 2520 in any other colors? Maybe as a direct buy?

Pretty nice read offers insight but am kinda unsure with Microsoft sometimes some of their decisions and their lack of speed is pathetic.

I feel that windows phone team needs more resources and much more priority. Its nice they are working with the windows 8 team i just hope they can pull it together and work together.

I can believe it. Sales of the 520\521 are still on a roll here in New Orleans. I haven't seen either one (going by Walmart, Best Buy.... Prepaid Phone aisles) in the last month due to people grabbing them up as quick as possible. Starting to see the higher end models daily on the street as well. Six months ago noone knew what any of my Windows Phones were. I am super pleased at how well they started to pick up. Now if only Tmobile\ Metro PCS would care enough to get more models.

I know its easier said than done but MS should do these things to increase sales in US.

1. Release the flagship phones on all major carriers at the same time even if they are different models.

    Ex: They should release the Lumia 1520 on AT&T, Lumia ICON on Verizon at the same time.

    There were already 4 different flagship exclusives with AT&T and worse thing about these deals is no other carrier should have flagship for certain period (6 months in case of 920).

2. Release more low-mid range phones on all prepaid carriers.

    1.4 million Lumias sold in US in Q3 compared to 0.5 million in Q2. So around 1 million are because of Lumia 520/521.

     MS/Nokia should release 525, 625 and 7** series phones on all prepaid carriers like T-mobile, AT&T GO, Metro PCS, US Cellular, Verizon prepaid, Boost mobie etc...

      They can easily sell 3-4 million Lumias in US if they bring low-mid range devices to all prepaid carriers.

 

Wider distribution and different range of devices is the best way to grow sales.

Microsoft sold twice as many Windows Phones the week before Christmas versus last year

Really? Microsoft!?

Let me calculate:
2 x 0 = 0
Yes!
Correct!
 

Honestly...the fact that Microsoft is even considering 512MB phones is ridiculous. I mean, the industry standard is 1GB minimum. Developers won't develop games optimized for 512MB phones when 90% of their market is composed by 1GB or superior phones.
If I were Microsoft I would be more concerned with coming up with a plan to incentive people to get 1GB phones instead of hoping developers will start coding for 512MB on a platform with 4% of market share, where those 4% aren't composed exclusively by 512MB.

Now, the feeling I got from your article, Daniel, was that, as always on Microsoft's head there's only one thing "US, US, US, US, US".
Did the guy spoke about the impact of the acquisition of Nokia's employees and the therefore leaving of the Nokia brand from smartphones in the rest of the world? You mentioned the known low power of the Nokia-brand in the US, but did you spoke about its huge power in places like Europe, India etc?

I'm trying to get a clearer image on the mind-set of the bosses at Microsoft. I already know Ballmer's fantasy world. But the rest?

Well, in the end, Microsoft didn't sell anything. Nokia did. So perhaps we should be talking about "Nokia sold twice as many windows phones" and not Microsoft.
Let the damned acquisition of Nokia's employees finish, let Microsoft take Nokia's name of the phones and then lets talk about "Microsoft sales". Ok? Ok. ;)

While I'm sure that the Nokia name sells some some of the phones, I'm pretty sure you're taking it too far with "Nokia sold twice as many". I realize that you love Nokia and idolize them (which is a fine btw (; ) but that's not the only thing. Nokia's name alone, yes, probably sold some of these phones, but its not the name, its the products.
Here's the thing. While some people may not like it, the name "Windows" is known all around the world. Some people don't care about the phone, but they see Windows and associate it with their computer. That plus the great software plus the Nokia name is what sells WP. Saying Nokia sells Windows Phone is no more true than saying "Dell/HP/Lenovo is what sells PCs not Microsoft. IMO, software is more important than hardware and frankly the main reason that Nokia has such a high market share among WP is because they're the ones who are completely behind it. If HTC put the One, One Mini, and One Max, and Samsung put the S4 and Note 3 running WP out in the market, the market share of Nokia wouldn't be nearly as big.

What country do you live?? If you live here in Brazil you would understand what is the power of the "Nokia" name. Almost every person that I know that bought a Lumia bought because is Nokia, not because it has Windows Phone. In these types of countries that end of the Nokia name in phones will make a huge difference!!!

One question: Why did the people in your country buy iPhone and Android when they had Nokia symbian? Why did they not buy a symbian because it is nokia and not because it is symbian? Please answer.

How hard is it to accept the fact that Windows Phones sell because it is now synonymous with Nokia? US residents will never grasp the weight the Nokia name carries. HTC put out some solid WP's and yet couldn't sell them. Live with it.

You do realize that Apple is still selling the iPhone 4s which has 512 Mb RAM and that their high end phone the 5s does not have more than 1 Gb of RAM? There is also no way that the cheap android phones that make up the bulk of the android market share world wide has 1 Gb of RAM, I can see plenty of andorid phones for sale here in Sweden at the moment with less than 1 Gb.  Sure for simplicity it is probably better to shift the new phones to 1 Gb for the next generation, but to launch without 512 Mb phones would just have made it harder to sell cheap enough phones.

No matter how good a downloaded app is, it is never as good an experience as 'native', that is why if they go ahead with this app that replaces the native music hub, I'm cancelling my subscription. Besides the app is horrifically slow.

The app doesn't suffer from the duplicating track data bug the integration does, so the app is already superior.

Alot of work to do for 2014. I think 2013 help set the standard going forward. I'm really hoping MWC exposes more partnerships with OEMs to get WP out in more hands. I think if Huawei, ZTE hit hard in the Asian Market, Sony (hopefully are making one) in the European, and Nokia/MS hitting on all front, especially in US then this could be a big change in market shares. Hopefully this would get Samsung on board and there's still hopes of Oppo releasing in the Asian market. Things looking potentially good going forward.

The problem is, other OEMs only speak but don't deliver. I have been following them since 2011, many of them promised to make WPs : Sony Ericsson, Asus, LG, Lenovo etc but none really did. All talk and no play. In the entire year 2013, HTC, Samsung and Huawei combined released just 5 new phones. That is terrible. Unless more OEMs get on board, WP will never be able to compete with android. Slow Lumia-only growth will continue.

I think alot of that was because of license fees. I think going into 2014 MS is changing their structure. I think MWC will say alot for WP. RT on the other hand, I hope theirs more to offer going forward as I really like the tablet based structure of RT, but full W8 is just more appealing to OEMs. If the Surface RTs are the only future builds, it would be ok as long as the app development is there for it.

Not surprising considering the additional wp8 variety compared to last year. I'm looking forward to seeing a phone this year that can utilize storage properly and SD cards. As it is 32 GB is not enough for my 1020, which is very frustrating.

Believe me if OEMs saturated the market with wp's, you can bet MS would be an unstoppable force and if each US carrier sold the 920, 1020, and 1520 there's no telling where WP would be, I mean Nokia WP.

Out of curiosity, what exactly is the difference with the wifi/bt/gps stacks now? What exactly does giving them shared stacks improve?

I don't know about those items specifically but in developing WinRT and WinPRT versions of my app (XAML+Direct3D) I found tons of differences between the two. Some examples:

1. I could write a complete XAML+Direct3D WinRT program in C++. Not so on WinPRT. There I had to stick a C# UI shell on top of my core C++ code because you can't access the XAML stuff from C++. I believe this is due to the use of the SilverLight renderer in WinPRT.

2. There are many XAML controls in WinRT that aren't in WinPRT (and vice-versa).

3. The way to interface Direct3D with XAML is completely different.

4. Accessing SkyDrive is completely different. Inexplicably, there's minimal support for SkyDrive in WinPRT ... and phones are the devices that most need access to remote data! I had to basically write my own File Explorer for my WinPRT app using the Live SDK. In WinRT I could simply call the built-in FilePicker API since it spanned local and remote storage.

The entire implementation of the RT concept was/is a disaster. At a minimum, when creating this limited locked-down garden, they should have used a common code base from the beginning and then added device-specific stuff. I can only imagine the size of the steaming pile we'll discover if WinXRT (the RT API for XBoxOne) is ever released.

 

A long time ago, no one could have imagined that Microsoft Active Directory would supplant Novell NetWare. Many in the industry considered it to be laughable. Well, that is exactly what happened. Microsoft has a way of beating the odds. Once they are committed, they will grind away at something until it is, "just right". It is only a matter of time until the word, "duopoly" is a thing of the past.

Extremely dissappointed by the rumour on losing the music/etc hubs.

Imho, Microsoft should simply take out of them the XBOX service, then let them live a separate life and interact together as any other music app does right now. Having an OS-binded app which can integrate all of your music experience is great for users (same as photos and videos), and this is something Microsoft should not do away with.

Actually, that approach would be also welcomed by third parties, which may also be interested in deploying their music/video/gaming platforms into Windows Phone (I have Sony in mind, but why not others). If Microsoft really wants to build on their OEM strategy, it should take out stuff that puts Microsoft services ahead, let them all compete in equal grounds.

Bottom line, from a WP user perspective I do hope they keep the integrated experiences, simply take out Microsoft services to apps, that should obviously integrate into the hubs.

I've been ambivalent about the plan to disengage Xbox Music from the OS until I read your 3rd paragraph. I think it might have that welcome added effect. But personally, I'm hoping that by disengaging it, they can work on improving it on a faster clip and more often. And once it has been improved to a level that it becomes quite good, put it back into the OS as a hub. But I guess, making it part of the OS again will happen only in WP9 because most of updates that will come after 8.1 will be tweaks.

Rising sales are always better than the alternative! Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how this Nokia merger goes. I'd like to see the following:

1. Microsoft-branded phones in the US (maybe stick with Nokia overseas). I don't know if it should be "Surface" or "Microsoft".

2. An "XBox" phone (not sure how it would differ from others but XBox has a good reputation). Obviously, it should have the best GPU performance of the family.

3. Take Windows Phone proprietary. That way MSFT can optimize the hell out of it. Better performance, better battery life, faster integration of new hardware and software features, etc.

4. Continue with the low-end phones but up their specs (e.g. 1GB RAM minimum, quality 4.5" screen, etc.). Hope to make up the difference on app sales and services. I imagine that the new unsubsidized carrier plans will force manufacturers to make low cost phones available. Be the leader in that category.

I think that #4 will lead to a window of opportunity for MSFT. Blow some of that $70B cash pile on massive advertising for the new "Surface phone".

 

In the third picture, the Windows 8 start screen has a big tile that is a folder for several apps. Is that a newer build they are sneaking into ces?

Probably just the Photos hub with a screenshot on the tile :P I don't why you would need folders when you already have categories in Windows 8.1

I got my htc 8x at the end of last year, and I'm fairly pleased so far.
Looking forward to see what they do with the OS this year, as the changes announced so far sound like a big improvement. And here's hoping they improve the music app, as that's the worst part of wp8, for me, so far. :)

Did you download the new Xbox Music app Microsoft released?  It is an improvement although, for some reason, Microsoft decided to eliminate the podcast function.  Another confusing bit about it is it keeps the same tile icon as the old Music app.  PS: Don't uninstall the old Music app if you use it to play podcasts!!!

Where are these increased sales coming from?!  I visited 3 different Best Buys (in Northwest and Texas) over the holidays and not a single one had ANY Windows Phones on display.  NOT A SINGLE ONE!! No mention of Windows Phone anywhere!  It seems to me the general consumer is not exposed to Windows Phone except in TV ADs and in the Microsoft Store. Even in the new store-within-a-store environments where Microsoft has worked with Best Buy to setup exclusive Microsoft areas in the store, all that was in that section were tablets and PCs.

sales of the 520. mostly online or via carriers like tmobile. but read the headline. WP essentially sold nothing last year and now it sold some more. It isn't good news really. It just means "we sucked less".

the 2014 outlook is the same as your experience. no wp anywhere, no brand, no awareness, no interest. it will take a heavenly miracle to change that.

the problem is that these sales are about to dissapear. not because of seasonal trends but because google noticed the success of the 5xx series and counter it masterfully with their moto line which starts at just 50 bucks over the WP price point, but

1) it is android, which lets face it, consumers can't go wrong with app wise and feature wise.

2) has a much better phone than the 5xx line.

Surely other android OEMs will follow since google has essentially declared war on their own OEMs but WP will be a side casualty unless they start pushing 49 dollar phones off contract. But given the expensive WP license which other OEMs still pay, one has to wonder if this is game over for the low end WP surge...unless WP becomes free which as of now, MSFT has not done.

Ultimately, more distrubing is that nobody is buying high end windows phones. This is off course because at higher price points, the WP OS simply doesn't offer value and the glacial progress at which MSFT is developing it simply turns off prospective buyers. WP was essentialy dead in the water in 2013 development wise. The 3 updates were minor, even as apple and google shipped major revamps. So asking somebody to pay 600 dollars outright or 199 on contract for an OS which is essentially a 2012 operating system is asking too much.

I say this as a #1 WP fan. adopter of a samsung focus on day one, wp app developer, user of every WP version ever released, and overall fan of the platform...WP just feels like it has no chance and it is about to dip back into the never ending cycle of low sales, low interest and slow updates. So while these are good news, the fact it was all nokia and all one device paints a different picture than the headline describes.

 

So not true imho.

WP sales seem to be growing worldwide, with over 10% share in some major markets (noting Apple is at 15% worldwide). Seems the future is bright!

Should WP sales grow by 50% (they were as low as 4% at one point) then they could be number 2....

With the way things are going, WP has a long long way to go. If Apple releases a bigger and better phone this year, it'll ruin WP sales. And like neonspark said, Google is hitting back at Nokia with their Moto G. So MSFT needs to come up with a good strategy otherwise they are in big trouble.

Im seeing more and more Lumias here in Australia. Nokia isn't even marketing their products like they should. I've seen a few adds but people don't really know much about WP8 and Nokia here after all the Apple and Samsung products. There's a big market here in Australia and I'd love to see more WP8 devices around. :)

I managed to convert two of my mates as well as my Mrs. So I'm hoping to see more improvements with GDR4 or 8.1.

not good at all. Last year wp7 devices wasn't phased out and wp8 devices only got shipped in several markets. Now it's all about wp8 including good-seller 520 and sold in most of countries, 2 times is far from my expectation.