Windows Phone 8 Sales at Microsoft Store: Few Black Friday Buyers
Within a Microsoft Store on Long Island, Windows Phone 8 displays attracted few testers and even fewer buyers during a spot check on Black Friday. Meanwhile, an AT&T Store manager in nearby Commack, N.Y., said customers had heard about Windows Phone 8 reboot problems, causing few people to buy the smartphones in recent days. And a side project, known as Windows Phone 7.8, appears to be missing in action. The bottom line: Anecdotal evidence suggests Microsoft continues to struggle mightily in the smartphone market. Why should VARs care? Here’s the answer.
First, three anecdotal updates:
1. Windows Phone 8 Reboots: Some of Windows Phone 8’s most vocal, highest-profile users — including All About Microsoft Blogger Mary Jo Foley — experienced the smartphone reboot problems first-hand. As of Nov. 25 at 9:52 p.m. ET, Microsoft’s Windows Phone blog had not been updated to explain the reboot issues.
2. Windows Phone 7.8 Silence: Meanwhile, Microsoft is offering no comment on a Windows Phone 7.8 update, which would have given orphaned Windows Phone 7 users some shiny new features. Paul Thurrott’s Windows SuperSite on Nov. 24 offered an exclusive update on the situation.
3. Microsoft Stores: The VAR Guy stopped by a Microsoft Store near Huntington, N.Y., during Black Friday. There was reasonable customer traffic checking out Microsoft Surface tablets running Windows RT. But during this one-hour store visit, The VAR Guy saw only three customers check out Windows Phone 8 devices, which are prominently displayed at the front of the store. Imagine that: The busiest shopping day of the year. On Microsoft’s home turf. And nobody was really giving Microsoft’s smartphone strategy a look. Ouch.
A few doors down in the same mall, the Apple Store continued to attract standing-room-only crowds around the iPad and iPhone 5.
Why VARs Care
Admittedly, it’s early in the Windows Phone 8 game. Microsoft still has time to maneuver. But the pressure is on, especially for Microsoft’s channel partners. Microsoft keeps telling partners about the power of Windows 8’s code base running across smartphones, tablets and desktops.
But if Microsoft is suffering from software glitches and slow consumer sales, it will be difficult for the software giant’s channel partners to embrace the new smartphones, let alone recommend them for corporate application deployments.
Back on Nov. 5, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicted Windows Phone 8 sales would ramp quickly. Anecdotal evidence suggests that isn’t the case — at least not yet.