Microsoft struggled to make headway in the US smartphone market and that seems to have become the over-riding world view of Windows Phone. I’m even inclined to believe that Microsoft itself took the decision to back away from its mobile division because US sales weren’t growing fast enough.
However its crazy to dismiss the success that Nokia achieved in moving Windows Phone forward, even if it was success bought at the cheaper end of the market.
So whilst the US only briefly saw 6% of the market go to Microsoft, in the UK it peaked at 12%, in Germany 11%, France 13% and in Italy at 17%. It isn’t just Europe either. At its peak Windows Phone held 12% of the Russia market, 9% in Brazil, 13% in Argentina and Mexico.
It’s notable that all of those markets are the ones where Nokia was traditionally strong. Sales were undoubtedly strongest at the lower end of the market – the success of the Lumia 520 proves that – however faced with the prospect of upselling those users to more expensive phones Microsoft didn’t have the industry knowledge to follow through.
We’ll never know whether Microsoft would have persevered with the slow but steady growth of its mobile division if Steve Ballmer had remained as CEO. We’ll also never know whether Nokia could have managed to grow its smartphone business if it had remained independent (and continued to receive a subsidy from Microsoft). Assuming it didn’t drop Windows Phone for Android of course.
Unfortunately all we’re really doing now is picking over the carcass of Windows Phone. Technically its dead, with Windows 10 Mobile having replaced it. Windows 10 Mobile is going to struggle to gain any traction now, as has been discussed at length before.