Sales have quadrupled since Windows Phone 8 was introduced, says Microsoft’s Ballmer

HTC Windows Phone 8X review top screen windows phone 8Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has been talking up Windows Phone 8’s initial sales performance, saying that now the new OS has been introduced, the company is selling four times as many Windows Phone handsets than it was this time last year.

Ballmer was singing WP8’s praises at a shareholders meeting yesterday, where he was quoted as saying despite only being on sale for a few weeks, Windows Phone 8 was “off to a great start,” and handsets were “getting rave reviews.” So as not to be left out of the who’s got the least amount of stock game, he proudly added that several of the top phones have “sold out in many countries.”

What Ballmer didn’t do is put an actual number on all this, so as good as “four times the sales” sounds, it’s not quite so impressive if, say, only 54 units were sold last year. Microsoft has always been tight-lipped over Windows Phone sales figures, so we’ll have to look back at some analyst research for a clue as to its recent performance.

Strategy Analytics had Microsoft down as selling 2.7 million Windows Phone units during the September to December period of 2011, a figure with which Gartner agreed. Multiply this by four and you’ve got a figure somewhere around 10.5 million to 11.5 million, taking into account that the analyst’s figures are usually rounded for convenience.

Nokia Lumia phones prove popular

If this is an accurate estimate, it’s a distinct improvement over last year, but when Samsung sells 18 million Android-powered Galaxy S3 devices alone during a single quarter, it illustrates Microsoft still has some distance to go before the competition sweats too much. With more than $1 billion invested in its celebrity-driven marketing campaign though, expect Windows Phone 8 to be everywhere you look in the run up to Christmas.

It seems to be the fashion to have a new smartphone and/or tablet sell out as fast as possible this year, after all, the iPhone, iPad Mini, the Nexus 4, and the Nexus 10 have all done so. Nokia’s flagship Lumia 920 seems to be the WP8 phone most in demand. AT&T reported that it had sold out shortly after launch, as have carriers in Australia. In the UK, online retailer Clove Technology tweeted on November 22 that “To say Lumia 920 stock has been selling like hotcakes this afternoon would be just a bit of an understatement.” It has since said the first run sold out overnight.

Windows 8 was also briefly mentioned in amongst all the phone-based adoration, with Ballmer saying there are now 1,500 touchscreen devices – which includes both PCs and tablets – running the new desktop operating system on sale, up from the 1,000 offered at launch.