IDC: I Dream of Claim Chowder

A few eyebrows were raised when Microsoft presented a slide at a French event where they made the claim that 30 Million Windows Phone devices would be sold by the end of 2011.  Given that the first Windows Phone won’t ship until October 2010 at the earliest, or, according to Mr. Ballmer, “by Christmas,” count me among the skeptics.

However, the claim was later retracted by Microsoft stating that they mis-quoted IDC, the original source for the forecast.  The correction was perhaps meant to put an end to the credibility crisis.

However, the actual forecast from IDC was even more preposterous. Apparently IDC makes the forecast that 32 million “Windows Mobile” devices will sell during all of 2011–a combination of both Windows Mobile and Windows Phone devices.

Instead, the research company forecast 2011 sales of 32 million devices running all Windows Mobile operating systems. This includes expected sales of devices with Windows Mobile 6.5, which is already on the market. IDC has not given any sales estimate for Windows Phone 7, which Microsoft has said will be available in the fourth quarter.

Their report showed about 16 million Windows Mobile devices shipped in 2009, with a forecast of 22 million this year and 32 million next year.

Windows Mobile shipped a total of 3.7 million phones in 1Q10, so in order to reach 22 million this year they need to ship 18.3 million for the rest of the year or, on average, 6.1 million phones a quarter.  That’s a higher number than what Android shipped in Q1 with BOGO promotions (5.2m units). That’s almost as high as the launch quarter for the iPhone 3G.  And all this (mostly) with WinMo 6.5!

Alternatively perhaps IDC foresees a huge launch for Windows Phone. Assuming an erosion of the WM6.5 to 2.7 m this quarter, 2 million in Q3 and 2 million in Q4, then Windows Phone would somehow need to ship 12 million units during the last quarter.  This number is higher than what iPhone sold in its highest ever quarter.

This sounds sillier than 30 million Windows Phones in 2011.  By claiming that Microsoft’s combination of deprecated Windows Mobile (6.5) and unreleased Windows Phone 7 will continue to sell at a growth of 38% this year, they are actually suggesting an acceleration in sales going into the second half at a rate higher than what the market is likely to grow at.

In other words, they are suggesting that Microsoft will gain share during the rest of this year. Share gains for a platform that has declined in share in Q1 from 10.2% to 6.8% with 3.7 million units sold on the back of further share losses the quarter prior. Share gains against Android that competes with a free license. Share gains with a new platform that has no clear differentiation vs. the iPhone.

  • Tom Ross

    What are the predictions for the total size of the smartphone market in 2011? Should be something over 300 million, right?

    I personally believe that the Windows Phone 7 interface "innovations" are mostly crap. It's not always better to be different, and eg in the case of the home screen a grid of apps (as on iPhone and WebOS) is plenty fine for the average user, with some widgets thrown in (as on Android and others) to satisfy the tinkerers and power users. But that will remain to be seen after the launch.

  • According to IDC:

    <cite>FRAMINGHAM, Mass., January 25, 2010 – By 2013, IDC forecasts that worldwide shipments of converged mobile devices, also known as smartphones, will surpass 390 million units, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.9% for the 2009–2013 forecast period. Underpinning the converged mobile device market is the constantly shifting mobile operating system (OS) landscape. </cite>

  • I found the full data here:

    Smartphones by year starting with 2009:
    2009: 181
    2010: 232
    2011: 284
    2012: 352

    This puts the IDC forecast of 32 million Microsoft OS devices in 2011 at a share of 11.2%, far higher than what they obtained in Q1 2010 (7%).

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