Windows Phone Goes Out With A Whimper
This quarter should be the last that Microsoft reports on Windows Phone sales, with Windows 10 Mobile just a matter of weeks away. In five years on the market Windows Phone never made a real splash, however it has never seen a collapse in sales to compare with the one just announced.
Microsoft will be hoping that the imminent arrival of new hardware is what has stopped Windows Phone sales in their tracks, because the only other explanation would be a sudden abandonment of its mobile platform on an unprecedented scale.
In the last quarter Microsoft reported that it managed to sell just 5.8m Lumias. By my reckoning that's equivalent to around one week's worth of iPhone sales. It's a drastic reduction from the 9.3m that Nokia managed to ship in the corresponding quarter last year.
Worse still for Microsoft there was a 54% reduction in revenue, meaning those phones that it did sell were all at the bottom end.
In a financial statement which was full of good news and positive growth, smartphones looked badly out of sorts.
Since Microsoft abandoned Windows Mobile it has now rebooted Windows Phone no less than four times, on each occasion promising to grow the platform's capability and sales. On each of the previous three occasions that has turned out to be misplaced optimism.
This time things are different. Satya Nadella set very different goals for Windows on smartphones earlier this year. Microsoft will still sell mobile phones, but its real mobile plan is to offer its services on Android and iPhone. The phones it sells will be primarily aimed at enterprises that want a phone to fit within the Microsoft stack. No more 'pile it high, sell it cheap' mentality.
The net effect will be fewer Windows 10 Mobiles, but a small profit line for Microsoft.
Many Windows Phone enthusiasts around the web have been venting their frustration at Microsoft's perceived lack of a competitive strategy. What they haven't realised that the Windows Phone platform that was designed to compete with Google and Apple is dead.
The Phoenix rising from the ashes is a very different bird.