Preston Gralla

Microsoft --- Windows Phone 7 will be third behind iPhone and Android for years

December 08, 2010 2:24 PM EST
With the early days of the not-particularly successful launch of Windows Phone 7 just behind it, Microsoft has begun downplaying expectations for the platform's success. One of Microsoft's top smartphone honchos said yesterday that it could be years before Windows Phone 7 catches up to the iPhone and Android.

Microsoft's Director of Windows Phone Program Management Joe Belfiore was interviewed onstage by Walt Mossberg at the D: Dive Into Mobile event yesterday. (You can see the interview here.)

Belfiore started out by avoiding talking about actual numbers for Windows Phone 7 sales, reports MobileCrunch. When asked how many were sold, he answered "We're not talking numbers." When Mossberg pressed him, saying that refusing to give out sales figures implies that sales are weak, he answered, "I don't think that's the case here. It's too soon."

Mossberg didn't give up, though. Here's his follow-up, and Belfiore's admission that Microsoft doesn't expect Windows Phone 7 to be a serious competitor to Android and the iPhone for perhaps several years:

"So...how long before you're back into the market...back up to a good marketshare, up there with Android and Apple?"

"I don't know."

"Couple months?"

"Longer than that."

"Couple years?"

"Maybe."

Given the apparently slow takeup of Windows Phone 7, I'm not sure that Microsoft will ever catch the iPhone and Android phones. If it can't make up ground during a splashy product launch in which Microsoft is said to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing dollars, when will it make up ground?

Pointing at some vague date several years in the hazy future when Windows Phone 7 will beat the competition isn't particularly convincing. Real numbers would be far more compelling --- but for that, we'll have to wait until market analysts weigh in, because Microsoft doesn't seem to be talking.