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Harsh: Windows Mobile still more popular than Windows Phone

The original Windows smartphone OS still holds twice as much market share as its successor, according to new smartphone market share data from Nielsen. Crave's Eric Mack ponders.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects, and CNET's "Living off the Grid" series Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
2 min read
Windows Mobile -- so cute! And still hanging around. CNET Asia

The headline out of the latest smartphone market share numbers from Nielsen is that Android now operates 51 percent of smartphones in the U.S., but the punchline is that Windows Mobile still holds twice as much market share as its far more attractive successor, Windows Phone.

Ouch. That's the statistical equivalent of American consumers giving Steve Ballmer an atomic wedgie.

Windows Mobile, which used the Windows CE "Pocket PC" kernel, basically sought to jam the Windows desktop into a phone and never gained too much traction or acclaim. Yet somehow, following in the grand tradition of Windows legacy users who refuse to upgrade, it still runs more phones than the far more attractive and usable Windows Phone OS.

Like XP, Windows Mobile still dominates younger Windows upstarts. Nielsen

This revelation is baffling to me. As the iPhone was first gaining momentum five years ago, I made my first smartphone purchase, an HTC Tilt from AT&T running Windows Mobile 6.something. (Yes, I was late to the smartphone game. While many of you were obsessing with your BlackBerrys in 2004, I was still using a satellite-connected landline in the Alaskan wilderness.) That phone, cool tilting keyboard and all, remains one of the most disappointing purchases I've ever made, while Windows Phone has seemingly continued to garner more positive reviews.

But for whatever reason (lack of apps comes to mind), those accolades aren't converting into sales. Horace Dediu did a little analysis of the data from Nielsen and ComScore to try and figure out how many of the most coveted Windows Phone, Nokia's Lumia, have been sold. There's only four months of sales data, but it would appear to show that despite a slick look and low price point, only 330,000 of the 110 million smartphones in use in the U.S. are Lumias.

Maybe Microsoft needs to stop innovating and finally give in to the demands of its stodgy legacy users -- new for Christmas 2012: the MS-DOS phone!