When Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7, it was entering a competitive marketplace. Android and iOS already had a strong hold on the market and Windows Phone was now the new kid on the block. While the OS has had generally positive reviews and the 'Mango' update will bring many new desirable features to the platform, sales, at this time, are rumored to be below expectations.
While Microsoft has yet to officially release sales figures for the platform, there may be an external factor that is playing into the sales of the devices. Consumers have been reporting that retail representatives have been shunning the platform when asked by consumers. At first it appeared that it may be an isolated event, but after a little bit of digging, we have found more evidence of retailers steering customers away from the platform.
A Neowin forum user, jasonon wrote about his buying experience. If it were not for his persistence, a Verizon sales associate would have prevented him from purchasing a HTC Trophy.
So when I first got a sales rep to help me, he was confused why I wanted a Windows Phone, he pointed me towards Android phones like the Incredible 2, saying I would like them better. I said no, and he pushed the iPhone after that. I kept insisting on WP7 and he finally brought me to where it was on display.
While it could be possible to say that this is a one-off experience, another user, and forum moderator, Growled, wrote this about his BestBuy experience:
I went into my local Best Buy recently to look at phones, as my contract is due to end in a couple of months. They wouldn't even talk to me about a Windows Phone. All they could talk about is iPhone first and then Android. When I mentioned WP7 they just looked blank and changed the subject.
It does appear that the Best Buy employee may have been directing the user towards their own personal preference, but it does show that trying to buy a Windows Phone device will result in active solicitation towards another platform. But the poor buying experience extends far beyond the experiences mentioned above.
A new website has been created to document these buying experience in more detail. Wptattletale.com is a new site that documents the poor buying experiences of Windows Phone 7. The site states that "Windows Phone 7 has a great user experience. Customers will never know if they can't experience it properly." The basic idea is that retailers are inhibiting the success of the platform because of the buying experiences mentioned in this article.
PCmag has additional information on retailers selling Windows Phone 7. The article states how each of the major carriers in the US are treating Windows Phone as a second class platform. This article states about Sprint that:
A salesperson was impressed by my insistence on trying a WP7 device (Sprint has only one Windows Phone 7 model, the HTC Arrive), but still tried to sell me the Android-powered HTC Evo (like the one he held). When I told him I'd rather wait for another WP7 phone to hit Sprint, he tried to convince me to return on June 24 for the HTC Evo 3D.
The unfair treatment of the Windows Phone platform may be a bigger hurdle than spreading the information to the consumer. Microsoft is investing heavily in the advertisements of the Windows Phone platform to the consumer. But if an eager consumer goes to their preferred retailer, the sales representative may be a bigger challenge than Microsoft anticipated.