This evening, Microsoft is hosting their 2013 Financial Analyst Meeting, addressing shareholders about the current status of the company and its future. Most of the discussion, which is ongoing as we write, has focused on cloud computing, Xbox, Windows and all of Microsoft’s services.
Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage within the last hour and elaborated on many of these areas, including Windows Phone. While not a lot of time was spent on the growing division, Ballmer did of course talk about the recent Nokia purchase.
Below are Ballmer's verbatim comments:
“Mobile devices. We have almost no share. I don't know whether to say that with enthusiasm or kind of uncomfortable tension. But I'm an optimistic guy. Any time we have low market share sounds like upside opportunity to me. We're paying to do it all day every day…It's getting after it and really making sure we deliver the kind of revenue and gross margin upside that's certainly there.
The Nokia deal is a lot of things. One of the things it is, is a way to make sure we can capture the gross margin upside because we're making most of the investment today, that we need to make even owning Nokia. We're very excited to have a chance to capture the gross margin upside...”
The admission by Ballmer is fascinating if only because Microsoft appears to be facing the reality that Windows Phone, while promising, still has quite a long way to go before it is a profitable and successful business division for the company.
The Nokia deal should help streamline the manufacturing of Windows Phones by knocking down walls between hardware and software development teams. There should also be “fewer secrets” as Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore recently mentioned about the deal.
Nokia has recently taken the lead in Russia over Samsung, Windows Phone has maintained a number two status in India and the OS has experienced explosive growth in Mexico. However, market share in the US has remained below 5% despite an aggressive campaign through AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Overall, shipments for Windows Phone are up 77% year over year.
Will Microsoft be able to pull it off? In theory they have everything they need to make a successful comeback in mobile. But there are a lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ that could affect the outcome for Microsoft. At the very least, they seem keenly aware of how much work is left to do.