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Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Microsoft Ships 2M Windows Phone 7 Handsets

Microsoft claims handset manufacturer partners shipped two million Windows Phone 7 devices by the end of 2010, but it's unclear how many have been sold to end-users.

Late in 2010, Microsoft indicated that it had shipped 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 devices into the sales channel. It didn’t say then how many were snapped up by end users. Today, it said that by the end of December 2010, the total number of devices shipped was actually 2 million.

Microsoft still hasn’t said exactly (or even roughly) how many handsets have been purchased by consumers. Microsoft’s carrier partners haven’t provided any enlightenment on that, either.

About the only thing we know is that LG wasn’t exactly thrilled with the Windows Phone 7 launch. Speaking to Pocket-Link, LG’s James Choi said earlier this month, “From an industry perspective we had a high expectation, but from a consumer point of view the visibility is less than we expected.”

For its part, Microsoft says it is much more interested in end-user satisfaction than sales numbers. Speaking to AllThingsD, Microsoft’s Greg Sullivan said, “Sales are an important measure, but for a new platform we think customer satisfaction and active developer support are more important indicators of how sales will be over the long term. One of the key ways that we’ll measure success of Windows Phone is did we ship a phone people love.” Sullivan said that 93% of early WP7 adopters are either “satisfied” or “very satisfied.” He added, “When people use this phone, they really, really like it.”

One thing that might help end users to like WP7 more are the apps. According to Sullivan, there are now 6,500 applications in the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, and more than 24,000 developers have signed up for Microsoft’s WP7 developer program. This is a good start for a platform that is only three months out of the gate.

It may not have the insane numbers that Apple’s iPhone App Store does, or the very strong numbers that Google’s Android Market does, but Microsoft’s app store has gained quickly on RIM’s BlackBerry App World, which just passed the 15,000 mark in November after 2.5 years of availability.

But WP7 still has a visibility problem. According to a recent study published by Strategy Analytics, nearly one-quarter of respondents haven’t even heard of Windows Phone 7. Part of that might be rectified when WP7 devices land on the store shelves of Sprint and Verizon Wireless shops. When WP7 launched, it launched only with support for the GSM-based systems used by T-Mobile and AT&T. Microsoft is adding CDMA support to the WP7 platform so Sprint and Verizon can offer WP7 devices later this year.

Luckily for Microsoft, word-of-mouth plays a big role in consumers’ purchasing decisions. If 93% of new WP7 convertees truly are satisfied or very satisfied with their smartphone, then that should help Microsoft move more phones.

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