Things are awfully quiet on the Windows Phones 7 sales front to date. Typically, first week or weekend sales estimates for much-hyped new smartphones ripple through the tech blogosphere, giving an early glimpse into consumer demand for a device after months of pre-release coverage and speculation.
But unless I just haven't noticed, that hasn't been the case with the first batch of WP7 devices from AT&T and T-Mobile that hit stores Nov. 8. Gizmodo? Engadget? BGR? Are you out there?
Part of the reason for less-fervent coverage of initial sales may have to do with the launch of multiple WP7 handsets rather than a single smartphone. Everything isn't riding on just one device -- as is the case with the iPhone -- so scrutiny of sales isn't as focused as it might be otherwise.
Apart from saying last week that initial supplies of WP7 phones had been tight, Microsoft itself has offered few details about launch sales. "We have not heard Microsoft crowing about first-week sales because the numbers likely aren't that impressive," suggested Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart.
Based on his own spot-checks of stores selling WP7 phones like the HTC Surround and Samsung Focus, he confirmed inventory was limited. "Some had sold out, but that's more an indication of limited supply than robust demand," he said, rejecting the notion supplies would be kept artificially low to give the impression of strong demand. "This is a 1.0 platform, and my assumption is that the vendors are deliberately ramping things up slowly to ensure that there are no glitches," he said.
Microsoft has tried to insure a robust reception for its upgraded mobile platform with an ad blitz reported to be as high as $500 million. The latest TV spot in its "Phone to Save Us from Our Phones" campaign contrasts a WP7 phone user getting his groove on at a dance club while another guy is so fixated on his own device he's shunned by the ladies. Yep, WP7 is a chick magnet on top of everything else.
Ads for the WP7 phones from AT&T have also begun rolling out more widely online, including a page takeover yesterday on The New York Times home page. Obviously, it's too soon to tell whether the huge marketing push will pay off. But Greengart reiterated that Microsoft has a major task getting back into the high-stakes smartphone race. "Microsoft is waging an uphill battle to convince consumers to consider an alternative to BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android," he said.