Analysts weigh in on Win7 phones
Here are some (lightly edited) analysts comments on the Win7 Phone launch today.
From Satish Menon of Forward Concepts:
Microsoft is more than a year too late during a very critical period in the smartphone space when new players like Apple and Google (Android) have established themselves firmly in the market.
In terms of hardware partners they lost exclusivity with HTC who now ships far more Android devices than Windows Mobile devices. HTC's shipments accounted for more than 50 percent of the global Windows mobile shipments before they turned to Android so the loss of exclusivity there is a big hit to Microsoft.
Samsung was another big Windows Mobile supplier who is also now more focused on Android while Motorola has moved away completely from Microsoft exclusively towards Android. So Microsoft will face serious challenges in its attempt to regain mind share of its old tier-one hardware partners.
As for end users, Microsoft's strong presence in computing will likely generate relatively strong demand for Win7 phones from business users. Here, Microsoft will battle for market share with RIM.
In the larger consumer segment the company will continue to face severe headwinds competing with Android and iOS. Microsoft has little leverage from its failed consumer products, Zune and Kin. Xbox could be a different story but won’t be significant enough to make WP7 a serious consumer smartphone. Severe lack of third party applications is another problem when it comes to the consumer space.
Microsoft strategic decision to exclusively address the high-end smartphone segment with Windows Phone 7 could prove to be misplaced as the fast growing mid-range segment has less competition than the high-end.
With Qualcomm being the primary supplier of processors, Windows Phone 7 has little hardware advantage over Android phones which predominantly uses the same chips.
Microsoft’s overall market share in smartphones is forecast to be around 6 percent this year, a severe drop from its 12 percent share in 2009. Part of this loss could be recouped in 2011 by Windows Phone 7. However, in the longer term, Microsoft will continue experiencing competitive pressures from Android and Apple in the business segment.
Overall, we see market share for Windows Phone over the next three years languishing in the 5-7 percent range.
From Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies:
Tight Office integration is going to be a differentiator that Microsoft will have and can continue to develop upon. The Xbox live integration will also be interesting as a differentiator that could appeal to more of the core Xbox users. In general, the user interface is solid and should appeal to consumers.
Hardware-wise I haven't seen anything mind blowing yet however the HTC HD7 looks like one of the better devices at launch.
Overall, I think MSFT has a shot to be successful in this market however it won't be easy as retail positioning and carrier differentiation may come at a premium. Loads of consumers are walking in to carrier stores asking for Android devices so there will need to be some serious marketing by MSFT and their partners to position Windows Phone 7 so that consumers will give it a fair shake.