Microsoft: Windows Phone activations doubled during 2013 holiday season

Microsoft’s Windows Phone sales during the 2013 holiday season have been awash with mixed signals. While initial reports out of Nokia indicated that the company sold fewer phones in Q4 than in Q3, Microsoft has come out saying that Windows Phone activations were actually up - not down, as some had believed.

From a business perspective, year-on-year (YoY) comparisons are the benchmark as comparing successive quarters does not give an accurate picture of sales trends. Why, you say? Well, comparing successive quarters does not account for holidays and other high-buying times like back-to-school or holiday sales. So, to keep a normalized comparison of the data, YoY has been adopted as the norm for viewing comparative sales. That’s not to say that comparing successive quarters is not without value, but for the sake of this post, we know that Microsoft typically compares YoY when making public statements.

Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore took to Twitter to help dampen some of the speculation that Windows Phone did not have a strong holiday season. He tweeted that Windows Phone sales for the last holiday shopping season had doubled and increased each holiday month. He later went on to say that the activation figure is for YOY sales, as we expected.

Now, without actual numbers, it’s hard to know if doubling your sales is something to be excited about. For example, if they only activated 100k phones last Christmas, activating 200k phones this year would make that statement true but it’s hardly remarkable in a broader context.

But until we get hard numbers, it is impossible to know how well Windows Phone is actually doing. In fact, Microsoft has been quiet about several of its new business lines, choosing not to reveal sales numbers for Windows 8 for some time, while the company has never stated how many Surfaces it has sold. But Microsoft is not shy about stating how many Xbox Ones it has sold which tends to make us think that Windows 8, Surface and Windows Phone sales are not anything to write home about. 

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They have a long climb to beat the "monkey see monkey do" / "oooh shiny" / "it costs a lot therefore it is good" mentality that is plaguing iPhone users.

Its really simple, Windows Phone is just not as good as Android or iPhone, if it was then it would sell more. Monkey see monkey do new and shiny blah blah. Most people just don't like Windows Phone, most people prefer Android and iPhone, people buy what they like, they are not stupid. At some point Windows Phone fans will have to admit that their preferred OS will always have a low impact on the market.

If MS had have got off their collective backsides a year or two earlier then maybe they would have had a chance but they left it too late and here they are with embarrassing sales numbers.

Edited by derekaw, Jan 27 2014, 3:43am :

I work at a university. I have never seen anyone, faculty, staff, or any student, with one of these phones. I only see androids, and iphones.

I also don't know anyone personally that has one. Speaking with sales people at a cellular provider I won't name, they said they hadn't sold any of them. That had units from last June that hadn't moved.

It's just not as pleasant to look at. The big flat color boxes are not as pretty to look at as droid or iphone high color, detailed icons. Not to mention background images too.

On a side note, if I didn't want that look on my phone then why would I want that same poor UI on any other device. Oh wait, I don't.

I never expect concrete numbers from MS. While the numbers get better they are no where near Android and iOS, which is why they dont like throwing numbers around. I get it. When (hopeful) the numbers are dramatically better I suspect they will love to throw out hard numbers.

Love the WP8 haters and how people who post articles always use the 100K - 200K as a double isn't significant when we know the sales are in the millions.

Justin76 - give it a break. If you don't like something that is your prerogative but to make a stupid comment about 5 to 10 units is showing how much you really don't like something. I use all three mobile OS's and the iPhone 5s is my main phone followed by the Lumia 1020 and then the HTC One.

My main tablet(hybrid) is the Surface Pro 2 512GB then iPad Mini Retina.

I use a MacBook Pro Retina 15 along with a Dell M3800. I don't believe in running Parallels to do the job of a regular PC and I don't want to run a MacClone on my M3800.

I use devices based on their usefulness not because I am a fan of one or the other.

It doesn't matter the number to me as long as the Microsoft Platform continues to grow.

As much as some of you people want Microsoft to fail you will wish it hadn't if it did fail.

Take Apple for example and how they took many design cues and tweaks from the Jailbreak community and implemented it in iOS7 and how they continue to update based on tweaks from outside Apple circle of influence such as Cydia and their developers.

By having all of these influences, communities that tweak OS's, and designers of themes it helps to influence Apple, Google and Microsoft to be better and implement changes that the larger communities want.

Cyanogen has proven that with enough followers and people loading your modified OS that it can grow into a business model.

I can't wait for the 929 for Verizon to come in and I hope they push for 2K+ displays on all 4.3 - 5" displays very soon. Having loaded WIN8 on my HTC One and seeing what a high resolution screen would look like with WP8 I can't wait for the Lumia 929.

Sales are sales because we know Android didn't achieve their sales figures with all mid-range to high end phones right?

I first bought the 520 for $50 just to try it, fell in love with it instantly, then I bought the 1520 a couple weeks ago, this thing blows any phone I've ever had out of the water, faster, better screen, build quality, camera, zero lag etc, my previous phone was a note 3.

Just wish the apps were better quality is my only complaint, everything else is top notch.

It is not "impossible to know how well Windows Phone is doing." We have the monthly Kantar market share numbers which break down sales by region each month and we also have this quarterly chart of Lumia sales that tells the story pretty clearly:

They sold 30 million Lumia's this year. Lumia sales have doubled from the previous year. When you add in other OEMS (Samsung, HTC, Huawei) Windows Phone is selling around 10 million units each quarter now.

Of course is possible: read Nokia financial report for the fourth quarter, add 10% which is the market share for other OEMs and voila' you have the numbers.... 90% of which are certified.

Great, and I'm glad they're doing well, but how many of those activations were lumia 520's given away as gifts?
(last minute I could not find anyone who had then in stock over Christmas)

And why does it matter whether it is high budget or low budget Windows Phone? The performance of all Windows Phone 8 devices is nearly identical. 99.9% of all apps run on the Lumia 520; the exception being a few games that require 1GB RAM.

The main reason to buy a high end Lumia is for a better camera, higher resolution display, wireless charging, etc.

Edited by Avatar Roku, Jan 25 2014, 3:34am :

When did I say it mattered?
My question was how many of those activations were 520's, and I gave an explanation as to why I specified the 520, seeing as I wanted to buy a couple for Christmas to give away as gifts, and could not find a retailer that had any in stock...

cybersaurusrex said,
I think I read somewhere today that 2/3 of Windows Phone sales are the budget models (52x).

So still less than Android then, got it.