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Windows Phone 7 off to tepid start

OS grabs just 2% of US market share on launch, less than Android, WebOS at debut

Windows Phone 7 off to tepid start
Windows Phone 7 OS is off to a slow start, nabbing just 2% of the mobile operating system market in the US.

The Windows Phone 7 OS, launched in the US in Q4 2010, found itself in the middle of the competition between iOS and Android in the consumer cellphone market, according to market research firm NPD Group.

The Android smartphone operating system (OS) increased its market share lead by nine percentage points in Q4 2010 to reach a 53% market share as compared to Q3 2010.

IN Q4 2010, Apple iOS share slumped 4 percentage points to 19% of unit sales; RIM OS fell 2 points to tie Apple's 19%; Windows Mobile, Microsoft's legacy OS, fell 3 points to 4%, as the new Windows Phone 7 OS debuted at 2%; and Palm's WebOS held at 2%.

"With its mid-quarter launch Windows Phone 7 entered the epicentre of competition between iOS and Android at AT&T. Both competitors offer mature feature sets and large app libraries," said Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD. "Microsoft has made the case for Windows Phone 7's differentiation and improved integration. Now, the company must close the feature gap, offer more exclusive capabilities, work with partners to deliver hardware with better differentiation, and leverage its extensive experience in driving developer communities to increase its app offerings."

According to NPD, despite buy-one-get-one-free promotions US telecoms providers, AT&T and T-Mobile, the Windows Phone 7 OS nabbed less market share at its launch than its predecessor, Windows Mobile. The Windows OS also entered the US market with a lower share than either Android or WebOS at their debuts.

"At CES there were announcements from several handset providers of the intent to use the Android OS to bring new capabilities to market, including dual-core processors, 4G network speeds, and larger displays that seek to expand on the success of handsets like the Motorola Droid X and HTC EVO 4G," Rubin said. "Android will encounter greater competition this year, however, as Apple's iPhone 4, the best-selling handset in the US, debuts on Verizon Wireless."

According to NPD, the top five selling handsets in the US in Q4 2010, based on US consumer purchases, were the Apple iPhone 4, Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO 4G, Apple iPhone 3GS and the Motorola Droid 2.

NPD tracks retail and carrier sales to end users, rather than shipments from vendors, so its market research represents what consumers are purchasing.

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