Microsoft admits Windows Phone 7 slide was wrong

The company overstated IDC's sales forecast in a conference presentation

Microsoft acknowledged on Friday that it used an inaccurate number to represent research company IDC's sales forecast for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform.

During a presentation at the ReMix conference in Paris this week, Microsoft showed a slide that said IDC had forecast 30 million Windows Phone 7 devices would be sold by the end of 2011. The MobileTechWorld blog posted a photo of the French-language slide.

As it turns out, IDC had said no such thing about the future operating system, on which many observers believe Microsoft's mobile-phone future depends.

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.

"At the ReMix conference in Paris, Microsoft presented a slide projecting the number of Windows Phone 7 [devices] to be sold in 2011. This slide was inaccurate, and intended to represent an analyst's assessment of the market opportunity," Microsoft said in a prepared statement. The company added that it has not provided any sales forecasts of its own for the OS.

IDC won't be able to forecast sales of Windows Phone 7 devices until the OS is on sale and it has been able to talk with mobile operators and hardware vendors, mobile analyst Will Stofega said.

Microsoft has lagged in the fast-moving smartphone market as Apple's iPhone and Google's Android OS have captured the limelight. IDC's 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 is in fourth place among phone operating systems, behind Symbian, BlackBerry and Mac OS X, and will remain there until 2014, when it will surpass Mac OS X, IDC believes.

Windows Phone 7, a significant departure from today's Windows Mobile OSes, showed promise in demonstrations at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February, Stofega said.

"The first step was to ... redo Windows Mobile so it was more responsive, better (user interface), everything everyone complained about, and more up-to-date with the competitors," Stofega said.

IDC commented on those demonstrations in its report but did not go so far as to forecast sales specifically for the future product.

"Now they have to ship, and they have to get (Windows Phone 7) into the hands of their OEM partners quickly, and that's the challenge," Stofega said.

(IDC is owned by International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service.)

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Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
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