Despite the fact that both HTC and Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 devices have been well-received—critically, both companies are seeing their products heavily discounted at retailers following their rather disappointing sales leading up to Christmas. Verizon has just announced that HTC’s Windows Phone 8X is now only $99.99 with a new 2-year contract, that’s a full $100 off the original price. On top of that, Nokia’s Lumia 820 is now free with a two year agreement with Verizon, as is the Lumia 810 (a variation of the 820) on T-Mobile. Amazon has even discounted the already cheap Nokia Lumia flagship device, the 920 (typically $99), to only $39, again, with a 2-year contract.
These price drops don’t paint a pretty picture for Windows Phone 8′s future, as these devices are really the bread and butter of Microsoft’s product lineup. Regardless of the fact that Microsoft just approved 75,000 new apps for the Windows Phone Marketplace, people just aren’t buying enough Windows Phone 8 devices. Nokia has said that sales were off to a strong start back in November, but failed to give any hard sales numbers and they didn’t say if sales were strong all over, or just in a specific region.
The fact of the matter is this, the 2012 holiday shopping season was extremely critical for Microsoft and its Windows Phone 8 OS, because they have only about a month left to get as much marketshare as possible to try and cement themselves as the “third” most important mobile OS. Next month, RIM will take the lid off BlackBerry 10 and their new devices running the new OS, which could severely impact Microsoft’s sales, as both Android and iOS are pretty safe in retaining their first and second place positions.
If Windows Phone 8 sales don’t pick up soon or are heavily impacted by RIM’s BB10 arrival, things could be disastrous for Microsoft in the upcoming year. Windows 8 is already off to a rocky start and regardless of the fact that the OS is a breath of fresh air, not every consumer is thrilled with the change and if that change is affecting how they feel about Microsoft, chances are, they won’t be rushing out to buy a Windows Phone smartphone any time soon. It was once thought that Microsoft had enough money to basically buy Windows Phone’s success, but apparently, that’s not the case. They can market it all they want, they can sell beautiful hardware, produce a smooth and polished OS, but the fact is, Microsoft may have come to the party a little to late. By the time they launched Windows Phone 7, millions of consumers were so embedded into their current phone’s ecosystem and now are not willing to leave, especially after all the money they’ve invested in apps, games and accessories. Microsoft’s second mistake was releasing Windows Phone 8 and not allowing customers who just purchased a Windows Phone 7 device the ability to update their OS to the latest and greatest. Its been a long and grueling road for the folks in Redmond, who may very well be looking at the company’s greatest achievement, which may also end up being their greatest failure.