An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...
Windows Phone 7 Sells Out, Supplies "Tight"
While the anti-Microsoft crowd is eager to paint this week's launch of Windows Phone in the United States as a failure somehow, the reality is sharply different: Windows Phones sold out on opening day around the country, and supplies are now "tight"—according to Microsoft—everywhere in the world, including those places where the platform launched last month. What's funny about all this is that the one unofficial sales figure that's been bandied about (40,000 units sold on opening day) was supplied by a single anonymous source using unknown reporting metrics. And yet it's been re-reported and re-reported around the web as if it's a fact. Even more bizarre, some are painting "40,000 units in one day" as a failure, and some are even openly accusing Microsoft of holding back supply to give the appearance of high demand. (Microsoft can't control whether wireless carriers adequately stock their stores, by the way.) Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, Microsoft won't release official sales figures until next month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the very earliest, but the company did provide the following quote about sales so far: "Initial supplies are tight. Stores are already out of stock. We hear \\[customer\\] concerns and are working diligently with our partners to bring more phones to stores in the coming weeks." Until you hear otherwise, that's the official word.
Putting Windows Phone 7 "Sales" in Perspective
With the understanding that the 40,000 figure cited above was pulled out of an imaginary person's imaginary butt, let's put that unit sales figure in perspective. If it's true, that compares with about 200,000 iPhones and Android handsets sold each day, or less than one-fifth the number of its closest competition. But even given this dire set of circumstances, remember that the smartphone industry is like being chased by a bear: To come in third place, Microsoft doesn't have to outrun iPhone and Android; it just needs to outrun the bear. That is, it needs to beat everyone else, and establish itself as a reasonable alternative from a sales perspective. (It's already superior from technical and usability perspectives.) And I'm reasonably sure Windows Phone is in good enough shape to make that happen. Heck, if people actually took a look at the thing, I think they'd be shocked by how good it is.
Steve Ballmer Sells Off 75 Million Microsoft Shares in Bid to Jumpstart Investor Confidence
Nothing says "success" like a massive stock sell-off! Actually, that particular claim is no less bogus than a similar accusation I read online, that Ballmer was selling off the shares because of his supposed disappointment over Windows Phone 7 sales. (Reality check: He sold the shares previously.) "I want to be clear about this to avoid any confusion," Ballmer said. "I am excited about our new products and the potential for our technology to change people's lives, and I remain fully committed to Microsoft and its success." He then dumped 75 million of his 408 million shares. In financial terms, his rationale is similar to when people get fired and publicly state that they're leaving to spend more time with their families. Or, in this case, he's "gaining financial diversification" and "assisting in tax planning before the end of the year." That latter one might actually make some sense, as there are apparently some savings and investment tax hikes that are going into effect in January.
KIN 2: The Quickening
It looks as if Microsoft's KIN sort-of smartphone is going to make a comeback at Verizon stores this holiday season. Like the 40,000 sales figure mentioned earlier, this comes from one source—one dubious source—but apparently the goal is to sell off the remaining inventory. And the plan is a decent one because, get this, the KIN phones were actually really nice. The problem wasn't the phones, it was Verizon, which saddled these devices with too-expensive data plans. So this time around, Verizon will apparently not require a data plan and allow users to simply access data over Wi-Fi when needed. Suddenly, the KIN makes a lot of sense, as I suggested it would months ago if Verizon just priced it right. I wonder if Microsoft can start up production again?
Call of Duty: Black Ops Roars Out of the Gates
Activision's latest entry in the Call of Duty series, Black Ops, is setting records all over the place. It was the most preordered video game in history. It has now sold the most units in one day—5.6 million—and made the most money in one day ($360 million) of any game in history. (The previous record holder, last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, hit 4.7 million units and $310 million in sales on day one.) And it's on track to become the best-selling video game over the first five days of availability (where, to do so, it must outsell Modern Warfare 2's $550 million from last year). Unbelievable? Wait until you play the game. That's what's unbelievable. My review is on the SuperSite for Windows if you're still on the fence, you stinkin' hippie pacifist.
Microsoft Sues Motorola, Again. So Motorola Sues Microsoft, Again.
You gotta love it when two corporate behemoths go at it in court. It reminds me of the Creature Double Feature shows I enjoyed as a kid, with the best airings being the Godzilla and Mothra movies, of course. In this case, however, Microsoft is Godzilla and Motorola is Mothra, and neither is particularly interested in sparing the Japanese or anyone else for that matter. This week, Microsoft filed another lawsuit against Motorola, claiming it is charging Microsoft "excessive and discriminatory" licensing fees for 802.11 Wi-Fi networking and H.264 video compression technologies, which Microsoft uses in its Windows 7, Windows Phone 7, and Xbox 360 products. Motorola returned the volley with a new lawsuit of its own, charging Microsoft with violating 16 Motorola patents across numerous products. Can't we all just get along?
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Leo and I recorded a new episode of the Windows Weekly podcast on Thursday, as usual. It should be available by the weekend on the Zune Marketplace, in iTunes, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.
But Wait, There's More
My next book, Windows Phone Secrets is now available in bookstores everywhere.