Good news for Microsoft: HTC’s new One (M8) Windows Phone handset will land on at least three of the four largest carriers in the United States.
Bad news for Microsoft: According to Kantar data, Windows Phone’s market share in China has eroded to less than a single point. It’s a country where Microsoft has invested heavily into adapting its Cortana digital assistant to the market’s nuance and language. What sort of consumer-buy in those investments can immediately draw isn’t clear.
Across the world, the picture is mixed for Windows Phone, according to Kantar: Down in Germany, but up in Spain. Up in Italy, but down in France, and Mexico. Flat in the United States, and weak in China.
Trying to make sense of the larger picture is somewhat akin to graphing a line across a scatterplot, but I think that it’s reasonable to say that Microsoft is decently poised for at least minor market share growth at home thanks to the HTC news, and the potential of the software company leveraging its newly minted Nokia hardware assets more effectively than they have been in the past. International looks weaker.
One step forward, one step back.
All of that fits into the context of the future of the Windows Phone platform itself. HTC did the market a favor by calling its new Windows Phone device “The HTC One (M8) for Windows.” That’s a potentially leading bit of text
Microsoft, keep in mind, is working to fuse its Windows Phone and Windows RT operating system. In short, imagine Windows 9 proper to be a desktop-capable operating system that has Metro elements, while Windows RT+Phone will be a Metro-focused touch-purposed operating system that isn’t expected to include a desktop at all. It will be aimed at tablets and smartphones.
The latter is not coming this year, according to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. While a preview of Windows 9 is expected to touch down on September 30th, the Phone+RT set of preview code, according to Foley, should land in “January or February [of] 2015.”
Put another way: The firmware cavalry isn’t on the way for the 2014 holiday sales cycle.
So we’re in something of a holding pattern for now. It doesn’t seem like Microsoft is able to consistently expand its market share with Phone in its current software form.
And at the same time the platform is very much still here.