Study shows that Windows Phone 7 still has a chance

HTC Titan Windows phone 7Android is the undisputed leader of the smartphone space, and its followed by Apple. Currently Windows Phone 7 ranks far below BlackBerry in sales, but a new report from NPD shows it may be gaining momentum. As users continue to exit the BlackBerry platform and new consumers enter the smartphone space, Android could lose some steam. 44 percent of current and prospective smartphone owners are “considering purchasing” a Windows Phone device. While that pales compared to the 63 percent considering Android, it’s a strong step forward for the struggling OS.

“The Android juggernaut continues, and that’s not great news for some of their OS competitors,” said Linda Barrabee, research director for Connected Intelligence. “For example, one-third of BlackBerry smartphone owners are most interested in Android for their next smartphone purchase. That said, Android is also experiencing continued competition from Apple’s popular iPhone, as well as some nascent competition from Windows Phone 7.”

Whether this interest will turn into actual sales will be another story. It’s easy to speculate about life on the other side, but when it comes to making hard choices, many consumers may not make the switch. 21 percent of those who don’t plan to purchase a WP7 device said that the reason was because they have “too much time or money invested in another smartphone OS.”

Success may also depend on how well Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone Mango and Nokia announcements pan out. Windows Phone needs killer devices and it needs to compete with Android and iPhone in every feature category. If Microsoft fails to come out with an LTE phone on Verizon and is missing features that are present in Android or iOS, it will lose prospective customers.

Of course, though 44 percent of smartphone owners are considering WP7, just as many don’t have any idea what it is. 45 percent of consumers say they don’t know enough about Windows Phone 7 to consider buying it.

“Windows Phone 7 has a way to go before consumers really understand what it is,” said Barrabee. “But with the right marketing mojo, apps portfolio, and feature-rich hardware, Microsoft could certainly improve its standing and chip away at Android’s dominant market position.”

Let’s hope Microsoft doesn’t spend another $500 million on a terrible ad campaign this year.