Ballmer says 4x more Windows Phones are being sold as “this time last year”, whatever that may mean
Steve Ballmer likes to say things. No one can contest that. He likes to say incredibly positive things about whatever his company is doing, and sometimes even enjoys spreading misinformation about his company’s competitors.
But it looks like he’s gotten into a new thing now. The CEO of Microsoft has a new hobby: saying incredibly vague things that sound good for his company at first, but can’t be fact-checked in any way.
Case in point:
“Microsoft Corp. is selling four times as many Windows phones as this time last year, helped by a new version of its phone software for more powerful handsets with faster screens, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said”
That’s an excerpt from a Bloomberg story. First off, let’s consider the ‘Microsoft is selling’ part just unfortunate wording from a clueless Bloomberg reporter. Or should we? What if that is in fact what Ballmer said? Then he’d obviously only be referring to the number of Windows Phones that Microsoft was selling directly, right? How many of those did Microsoft sell last year? Does anyone know? Is there anything to compare this to? Of course not.
Now, let’s assume that Ballmer meant that Windows Phone sales across the world (not just in Microsoft stores) have quadrupled compared to last year. But wait. It’s compared specifically to “this time last year”. What does that mean? What’s the pool here? One day? Two? A week? A month? Who knows?
And that’s the point. Microsoft fanboys can now shout that their favorite mobile platform is growing sales 300%, because, hey, Ballmer said so. Well, yes, he did.
But if you expect market share numbers for WP to come in for Q4 2012 at four times what they were in the last quarter of 2011, that may be just wishful thinking. Keep that in mind. Until we see actual, hard numbers, and until we know what we’re comparing them to, this is just another cheap PR stunt that Steve Ballmer has pulled. And nothing more.
He got Windows Phone in the press once again, and once again with a positive spin, as many people like to report such nonsense without even daring to ask simple questions – like “compared to what, exactly?”.
Ballmer also pointed out that Windows Phones have been sold out in many places, once again perpetuating the fanboy rhetoric that ‘sold out’ statuses mean incredible success. We’ve seen this game (oh, and let’s not forget the ‘best selling on one particular online retailer for one week’ scheme) a number of times before. Yet Windows Phone hasn’t done well so far. At the end of Q3, its market share was around (but most certainly under) 2%. Yet previous Windows Phones kept being ‘sold out’ too, as we were told.
‘Sold out’ means there’s not enough stock to go around. So retailers may not have anticipated the demand for certain WP8 products. OK. But that doesn’t actually mean anything, because we don’t know what kind of stocks they had made. So maybe each retailer ordered just 100 Windows Phones. If the demand was for 150, then they would have gotten ‘sold out’ pretty quick. But is that real sales success? You be the judge. We’ll reserve judgement for when the actual numbers come out after the end of the year.