Has Windows Phone 8 taken off?
Windows Phone 8 is fresh off the boat, but is it already making friends? We take a look at how Microsoft's new platform currently sits with retailers and consumers
Microsoft was betting big this year on its combined launch of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 for tablets and PCs.
Part of that strategy is the aim to gain greater market penetration in the smartphone space – Samsung and Apple are having a ball with mobile devices and Microsoft wants in.
So, is everything going to plan? We spoke to several retailers to try to gauge Windows Phone 8’s impact at the user level: Are people buying it? What do they like? What do they loathe?
These are the questions we put to people whose business is selling handsets.
Immediately one thing becomes apparent – Windows Phone 8 has a long way to go to generate the same consumer interest as the iPhone and Android devices.
We asked a salesperson at Carphone Warehouse whether customers had been asking after Windows Phone 8 hardware, he said: ‘Not as much as Apple and Android.’
He described customer interest in the platform as ‘mediocre’ and went on to say that proportionately very few customers are asking about it.
'Probably not even 20 per cent,’ he added.
Online SIM-free device retailer Clove.co.uk painted a slightly different picture.
‘The demand has been stronger than we expected,’ said Chris Love at Clove Technology, ‘but there are of course only a few device options for customers at present so overall still very small compared to Android. The initial demand however has been encouraging.’
Expansys has a similar online, SIM-only business model to Clove and Lewis Davies, marketing manager for Expansys, said:‘We’ve seen a real interest in the early models. Particularly the HTC 8X, which we struggle to keep in stock.’
He described the customer reaction as ‘overwhelmingly positive’ with user reviews praising the handsets and a very low returns figure.
In terms of actual sales, the Carphone Warehouse representative compared Windows Phone 8 with Windows Phone 7.
He said: ‘Windows Phone 7 was not bad for pre-pay sales but it didn’t do well for contracts.’ He implied he’d seen little change from this state of affairs for Windows Phone 8 so far, but did suggest that the emergence of 4G could have an impact over time.
When asked if Windows Phone 8 had generated more interest than Windows Phone 7, Love said: ‘It would appear there will be yes, I think people recognise the better ease of use and integration with Windows 8, which will be a strong selling point in the future.’
Likewise, Davies said that while Expansys still sells Windows Phone 7 devices currently and that although it has performed ‘relatively well’ since launch, it hadn’t received the same level of interest as Windows Phone 8 is now enjoying.
He went on to add that Windows Phone 8 flagships have outperformed their Android counterparts, but conceded that the Android devices in question are now about six months old.
Davies believes there’s greater interest in the new platform for a number of reasons. He says the build quality of the new Windows Phone 8 devices is better than previous Windows Phone 7 models and that there’s greater awareness of the platform,no doubt at least in part due to Microsoft’s big marketing push.