Let me list a few truths before beginning here. Windows Phone (as much as we like it) is not penetrating the market in ways that Microsoft intended when it was announced about two years ago. The low global market share is a downer to most of us, the performance in countries where there is quite a bit of money to go around is poor, and such information would make anyone hit their head on their desk in frustration. But fear not, Microsoft is winning in one area – Amazon. Yep, that Amazon – one of the major sources for online purchasing of goods and services from books to electronics (even food and underwear) – its a site where Windows Phone seems to perform extremely well. The success for Windows Phone and Amazon is given ad infinitum by other sites which also report Microsoft related news and even as recently as last week in Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 announcement by Joe Belfiore. It’s definitely something to be proud of because Amazon is a great site and I have nothing but praise for the site. But then, let’s place some logic into that success, because there’s a lot that doesn’t make one iota of sense for mentioning Windows Phone success on Amazon.
To begin with, let’s consider how things are ranked by Amazon. Taking a quick gander at the Amazon.com Frequently Asked Questions yields:
What Sales Rank Means – As an added service for customers, authors, publishers, artists, labels, and studios, we show how items in our catalog are selling. The lower the number, the higher the sales for that particular item. The calculation is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated each hour to reflect recent and historical sales of every item sold on Amazon.com. We hope you find the Amazon.com Sales Rank interesting!
So, to dismiss some of the questionable content of the message, the main goal is the rankings Amazon provides are not an indicator of how much of a specific item is being sold, but an indicator of how well an item is selling compared to other items in the same category. Of course, there are several factors to consider here (such as whether or not there’s a specific holiday for instance, or time, or type of day) to determine how that rank is performed.
Let’s also consider one more thing: statistical data. As indicated by emarketer more than seven out of ten internet users are online buyers. Furthermore, it was expected that 148 million US consumers ages 14 and older will make at least one purchase online. From 2010 – 2015, nearly 30 million consumers will join the ranks of online buyers, representing 3.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Given the statistics, it would indicate some very strong numbers for Windows Phone, right? I mean the Lumia 900 has topped Amazon charts constantly, the online buying avenue is shown to grow further, what’s the holdup? Well, for most trends, it would appear that smartphones are a bit of a different bag of tea.
If you have a carrier/retailer in your area, make a quick observation. Walk into that store and see how many people are there. Assuming that the statistics are true, one can conclude that people aren’t buying phones in carrier/reseller stores, but buying them online. But if you take a look in a carrier/reseller store, chances are there are quite a few people that still go into a store. Whether it is to purchase an accessory, pay a bill, buy a new phone, the carrier outlet still represents a large percentage of mobile phone purchases. This isn’t something that is isolated to any mobile phone actually. In fact, the lines outside of an Apple store on the sale of a new iPhone are just as long as they have been since 2007 (if not longer).
So this leads to a fundamental flaw for using a completely online ranking (like Amazon) as a predictor of mobile platform performance. Despite several people using Amazon as a means to shop for mobile phones (or anything), several more people still go to retail stores. This is certainly the case for smartphone purchases regardless of age. For a moment, let’s assume Amazon rankings for smartphone are accurate, that would also mean that the platform penetration in America would be far higher (which we know it’s not).
For my bloggers, pundits, and everyone who reads, can you do me a little favor? Stop using Amazon as a predictor of Windows Phone success. It is about as much as a statistical inaccuracy as Dewey vs. Truman in the late 1940s for any history buffs out there. While online shopping is growing and represents a very fast growing user base, the people that still go to brick and mortar carrier shops dwarfs the people that use Amazon, and frankly it should. A platform’s success is based on several factors and it is an aggregrate of information including online shops and reseller outlets and the brick and mortar store. I’m not trying to be a jerk when I make this plea, but please just stop. Windows Phone has to hang on any positive accolade it can, and that number is getting fewer and fewer as time goes on. But harping on Amazon is akin to deception here and Windows Phone doesn’t need to deceive its user base.
How about we stop spreading the inaccuracy then? I mean you don’t have to but it would probably make me happier if you did. But it’s your call.