Microsoft Ties With Apple for Smartphone Satisfaction

Not a lot of people have Windows Phones, but the few who do love them.

Microsoft can take some solace in the fact that satisfaction with Windows Phone is equal to that of Apple’s much more successful iPhone, because it sure can't revel in market share.

The latest figures from Nielsen show that smartphone penetration in the U.S. reached 50 percent of all mobile phone owners by February 2012, up from the 36 percent in February 2011. At this rate, two-thirds of the nation will own a smartphone within another year.

But who owns that slice of the pie? Android has a solid 48 percent market share, Apple has 32 percent market share, RIM has 12 percent and is falling fast, and the "Other" group, which includes Windows Phone, accounts for a paltry 8 percent.

When looking at purchases in the last three months, the figures are even more lopsided. Android still holds 48 percent of the market, while iPhone is at 43 percent, RIM has 5 percent and Other accounts for 4 percent. That shows Android has either peaked or stalled, while the iPhone is gaining momentum and RIM is in freefall.

What has to hurt Microsoft is knowing that if more smartphone shoppers knew how satisfied the few current Windows Phone users are with their phones, then it could possibly break out of the "Other" group. PC Magazine recently posted its 25th annual Reader's Choice awards, and in the smartphone category, Windows Phone tied with iOS for first place in satisfaction, almost a full point ahead of Android on a scale of 0 to 10.

I found it rather comical that the 7.0 score in satisfaction for PalmOS, which is dead and off the market, exceeded the 6.8 rating given to BlackBerry OS. At the rate things are going, BBOS will soon join PalmOS in the computing museum.

Windows Phone, meanwhile, has so many other obstacles in its way. While app support is growing, it's missing the big names. When Rovio launched "Angry Birds Space" in mid-March, the Windows Phone version was glaringly absent, and Rovio is located in the same industrial park in Finland as Nokia.

Microsoft has issued an update to Windows Phone, with a number of fixes, but Paul Thurrott of Windows SuperSite notes that AT&T is blocking it. In fact, Thurrott notes that AT&T has never once allowed an over-the-air update to Windows Phone to be pushed out to customers. And this is Microsoft's premium wireless carrier?

And while I'm seeing TV ads for Internet Explorer, a free piece of software, I've yet to see one for Windows Phone from any carrier. There was a time when Microsoft made mediocre products and shoved them down everyone's throat. Now the whole thing is reversed: it's making good stuff and no one seems to know about it. Strange days indeed.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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