AT&T: “Windows Phone not selling as well as we want” (well, who’s fault is that?)

By Kip Kniskern | Posted June 5, 2011 52 comments

p4-1-attOn Saturday, Ina Fried from All Things D posted an interview with AT&T’s CEO Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, on a wide range of issues, one of which was the lack of traction AT&T Windows Phones have shown up until now.  Here’s the relevant quote:

Nokia has made this huge bet on Windows Phone. One of the reasons, they have said, is to have a bigger presence then they have in many years in North America. How interested are you in adding them to your lineup.

De La Vega: We already have Windows Phone 7 in our lineup. We actually like that software very, very much. It hasn’t sold as well as Microsoft or us would want it to, but I think having the Nokia hardware capability with the Microsoft software capability is a really good combination. They have to prove it by bringing some great devices to market. But I would love to have a great Nokia device with Microsoft Windows Phone 7.

Windows Phone 7, is it a hard sell, or are their features that are missing?

De La Vega: Keep in mind this is the first product that Microsoft has come out with since Microsoft redid their OS. I think for the first thing out of the chute it is pretty good. I think they just need to make it better. If you listen to what Steve Ballmer is saying (Mango, the next version), is going to add about 500 features. I think they are going to make it a lot better. Giving customers more application choices, having a bigger app store with more functionality on the phone, I think that is all that it needs.

Actually, I loved Windows 8. That looks a lot like a Windows Phone screen, with the tiles. I think that’s a huge win for Microsoft. Now they have their same look and feel on their PCs and tablets as they have on their smartphones.

Since the interview, a number of sites have been collecting stories of how potential Windows Phone buyers have been treated at AT&T, and at other stores.  Neowin posted on the interview, and has almost 120 comments as of this writing, many complaining about the treatment they received from AT&T.  One example, day2die commented:

It might help if AT&T representatives actually sells Windows Phones to customers instead of criticizing them.

Hell, some of these people don’t even know the difference between Windows Phone and Windows Mobile while others are just straight Android fanboys.

…and then replied to another comment calling his statement into question

Not exactly. My friend said that my Samsung Focus is “awesome” and he went with me to the AT&T Store to purchase one. He said that he wants the Focus, but the representative immediately point him over to the HTC Inspire.

After he insisted that he want a Samsung Focus, the representative flat out refuse to sell him one and he has to buy the Focus from AT&T’s website.

Robert McLaws, a developer and blogger, has experienced similar treatment, enough so that he’s started an online OneNote collection of poor Windows Phone sales behavior (you have to “friend” Robert on Windows Live to be able to add to the document).  A post on WP Central about Robert’s collection currently has almost 40 comments, again, with commenters reliving their horror stories of trying to buy a Windows Phone.

We said before that we think of the current Windows Phone as a “beta”, both in its feature-set and in the way it’s promoted and marketed.  It’s certainly also true that aside from dedicated Windows enthusiasts (and/or the kind of people who read and comment on tech news sites), there probably hasn’t been a lot of interest in Windows Phones, so retailers may be reluctant to push something that isn’t popular.

As it stands now, even after Mango, Microsoft is going to have a hard time selling Windows Phones if the retailers are all pushing Android.  Would Windows Phone be doing significantly better if retailers did a better job of selling it?  Can Microsoft pull off the kind of back room deals they’re famous for to coerce persuade retailers to push Windows Phones?  What do you think, with Mango, can Windows Phones sell themselves?

Posted June 5th, 2011 at 11:52 pm
Category: Featured, Mobile
Tags: Windows Phone
  • http://twitter.com/WebstyleCenter Peter van Dam

    I agree, and it’s not only AT&T. When I purchased my WP7 I was asked several times why I didn’t go for an Android. I’m sure things will improve with Nokia, when like 10% of the phones that ur able to purchase run WP7. Sellers don’t have intrest in looking into WP7 because it’s just one or two phones they selll that has that system. Android runs on so much more.

    • Sascenter

      Exactly, AT&T reps keep pushing me either to an iPhone, or an Android. Maybe it could help if they actually wanted to sell WP7 phones.

  • Peter van Dam

    I agree, and it’s not only AT&T. When I purchased my WP7 I was asked several times why I didn’t go for an Android. I’m sure things will improve with Nokia, when like 10% of the phones that ur able to purchase run WP7. Sellers don’t have intrest in looking into WP7 because it’s just one or two phones they selll that has that system. Android runs on so much more.

    • Sascenter

      Exactly, AT&T reps keep pushing me either to an iPhone, or an Android. Maybe it could help if they actually wanted to sell WP7 phones.

  • Derek

    Microsoft is developing the Killer App with windows Phone Xbox Live Avatar Kinect Integration.

    Android is going to seem very robotic soon.

  • Derek

    Microsoft is developing the Killer App with windows Phone Xbox Live Avatar Kinect Integration.

    Android is going to seem very robotic soon.

  • http://www.ratdiary.com spragued

    Go to Verizon Wireless’ homepage and see how much coverage WP7 gets compared to Android models. Count how many TV commercials Verizon is running for Android phones. Until the incentives for carriers change, MS will continue to be shut out. I think it’s going to cost them an awful lot to get in the game.

  • http://www.ratdiary.com/ spragued

    Go to Verizon Wireless’ homepage and see how much coverage WP7 gets compared to Android models. Count how many TV commercials Verizon is running for Android phones. Until the incentives for carriers change, MS will continue to be shut out. I think it’s going to cost them an awful lot to get in the game.

  • http://twitter.com/mcakins McAkins Online

    One thing is definitely true at this point in time: Microsoft has got a lot of conspiracy going on against it.

    There is a concerted effort by and large to damage the brand Microsoft, and they got themselves to blame for it. Microsoft’s pendulum went from one extreme to the other; from the time they reign with an iron fist, to now that they’ve become the laughing stock of every blogger on the planet! Look at how long they allowed Apple to go on with the stupid switcher ads, while the first response they made to Apple they got a letter from Apple’s lawyers.

    The damage has been done already, it will take more than killer products like WP7, Kinect and Windows8 to get people to like Microsoft again. MS need to really sit down and tackle the mind-share issue they have at the moment. It is evil when a shop employee refuse to sell your products because he hates you that much.

    And people should record their experience with the likes of AT&T shops and put them online to let the world see how low humanity has sunken in the name of gadgets.

    • http://www.ratdiary.com spragued

       You’re projecting. Business partners aren’t sidetracking WP7 because they “hate” Microsoft. They make more money from Android than WP7 (this may extend all the way to salesman, if they work on commission). They benefit from Google’s decision to license Android for free and cut deals on application bundles (their lost revenue is their investment that pads the carriers’ profits).

      • Anonymous

        One thing to keep in mind is that while the stock Android OS is free, the Google Applications, the Marketplace and possibly – not sure about this one – the ability to co-brand the device as “powered by Google” is dependent on the OEMs paying Google for the privilege.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with your last statement a lot. People ought to expose AT&T stores for their dirty practices. I’m surprised nobody (especially a journalist) has taken this opportunity.

  • http://twitter.com/McAkins McAkins Online

    One thing is definitely true at this point in time: Microsoft has got a lot of conspiracy going on against it.

    There is a concerted effort by and large to damage the brand Microsoft, and they got themselves to blame for it. Microsoft’s pendulum went from one extreme to the other; from the time they reign with an iron fist, to now that they’ve become the laughing stock of every blogger on the planet! Look at how long they allowed Apple to go on with the stupid switcher ads, while the first response they made to Apple they got a letter from Apple’s lawyers.

    The damage has been done already, it will take more than killer products like WP7, Kinect and Windows8 to get people to like Microsoft again. MS need to really sit down and tackle the mind-share issue they have at the moment. It is evil when a shop employee refuse to sell your products because he hates you that much.

    And people should record their experience with the likes of AT&T shops and put them online to let the world see how low humanity has sunken in the name of gadgets.

    • http://www.ratdiary.com/ spragued

       You’re projecting. Business partners aren’t sidetracking WP7 because they “hate” Microsoft. They make more money from Android than WP7 (this may extend all the way to salesman, if they work on commission). They benefit from Google’s decision to license Android for free and cut deals on application bundles (their lost revenue is their investment that pads the carriers’ profits).

      • lokitoth

        One thing to keep in mind is that while the stock Android OS is free, the Google Applications, the Marketplace and possibly – not sure about this one – the ability to co-brand the device as “powered by Google” is dependent on the OEMs paying Google for the privilege.

    • http://macrosofter.wordpress.com/ quikboy

      I agree with your last statement a lot. People ought to expose AT&T stores for their dirty practices. I’m surprised nobody (especially a journalist) has taken this opportunity.

  • jjMustang

    My wife went to get a Focus in November after they launched, and we had to put our name on a list to get one a week later.

  • jjMustang

    My wife went to get a Focus in November after they launched, and we had to put our name on a list to get one a week later.

  • KingP

    I walked into a Radio Shack here in the Nashville area, and was actually flat out told by the rep that “Windows Phone isn’t all that great” and “Look at all the awesome android phones we have”. I then showed him my EVO and said, “I’m all set on Android, thanks. Now can I see a Windows Phone?” the rep then switched with someone else and went to another side of the store.

  • http://twitter.com/teusje teusje

    Check out this topic (hope you don’t mind linking to the winrumor friends):
    http://www.winrumors.com/att-claims-windows-phone-7-isnt-selling-as-well-as-microsoft-hoped/#comment-218686000

    full of such comments.

    Here my quote:
    “Had this in Belgium when going for a second windows phone. they try to sell you an android from the first second when you talk about anything else. :( (and yes they don’t know any details about the phones :( #sadpanda )”

    (FYI: already reported this to Microsoft Belgium, hope they will contact these shops)

  • KingP

    I walked into a Radio Shack here in the Nashville area, and was actually flat out told by the rep that “Windows Phone isn’t all that great” and “Look at all the awesome android phones we have”. I then showed him my EVO and said, “I’m all set on Android, thanks. Now can I see a Windows Phone?” the rep then switched with someone else and went to another side of the store.

  • teusje

    Check out this topic (hope you don’t mind linking to the winrumor friends):
    http://www.winrumors.com/att-claims-windows-phone-7-isnt-selling-as-well-as-microsoft-hoped/#comment-218686000

    full of such comments.

    Here my quote:
    “Had this in Belgium when going for a second windows phone. they try to sell you an android from the first second when you talk about anything else. :( (and yes they don’t know any details about the phones :( #sadpanda )”

    (FYI: already reported this to Microsoft Belgium, hope they will contact these shops)

  • Sébastien Bouez

    Humm, Yeah, it’s not only in the US, also in France, it’s impossible to buy Windows Phones in stores. There is no phone anywhere. You can only buy them on the web ! Why ?!! Don’t try to go to stores, they only know Windows Mobile 6 ! Arggg !! But don’t worry, iPhone have their dedicated spaces with beautiful lights, tables, demos, flyers… I really don’t understand what’s the problem with Microsoft and carriers…

  • Sébastien Bouez

    Humm, Yeah, it’s not only in the US, also in France, it’s impossible to buy Windows Phones in stores. There is no phone anywhere. You can only buy them on the web ! Why ?!! Don’t try to go to stores, they only know Windows Mobile 6 ! Arggg !! But don’t worry, iPhone have their dedicated spaces with beautiful lights, tables, demos, flyers… I really don’t understand what’s the problem with Microsoft and carriers…

  • Anonymous

    This one is very easy on who’s fault it is and has been. We all know it is Microsoft’s fault. They left a bitter taste in past customers mouths with Windows Phone 6.5 and under. They started on a whole new platform with Windows Phone 7 leaving out NODO and MANGO durring the launch of the phone. Also not having the phone come out on Verizon and Sprint while just having it on AT&T and T-mobile for months. Microsoft was not ready. They rushed this phone and hurried to release it, knowing it wasn’t ready. Since the release Windows Phone 7 has been in a coma on life support. Stop the  blame game with AT&T, T-mobile, Verizon and Sprint, when Microsoft is clearly at fault for their phone sales. I have always been a loyal and dedicated Microsoft fan, but I had to put them down in the smartphone department after buying useless phones and having no support. I am not really a big fan of the Android phones, but it is popular on the same level as the iPhone and applications are being designed for it that actually work. 

    • http://twitter.com/efjay01 Ef Jay

      Whatever mistakes MS has made, store reps lying, misrepresenting and refusing to even display the phone is NOT Microsoft’s fault.

  • JSYOUNG571

    This one is very easy on who’s fault it is and has been. We all know it is Microsoft’s fault. They left a bitter taste in past customers mouths with Windows Phone 6.5 and under. They started on a whole new platform with Windows Phone 7 leaving out NODO and MANGO durring the launch of the phone. Also not having the phone come out on Verizon and Sprint while just having it on AT&T and T-mobile for months. Microsoft was not ready. They rushed this phone and hurried to release it, knowing it wasn’t ready. Since the release Windows Phone 7 has been in a coma on life support. Stop the  blame game with AT&T, T-mobile, Verizon and Sprint, when Microsoft is clearly at fault for their phone sales. I have always been a loyal and dedicated Microsoft fan, but I had to put them down in the smartphone department after buying useless phones and having no support. I am not really a big fan of the Android phones, but it is popular on the same level as the iPhone and applications are being designed for it that actually work. 

    • Guest

      Whatever mistakes MS has made, store reps lying, misrepresenting and refusing to even display the phone is NOT Microsoft’s fault.

  • peter

    i have my own stories about ignorant att reps, already reported to att and elsewhere
    microsoft is being very complacent about selling this phone
    apple on the other hand has the right to veto any specific individual from representing iphone, in att. that is, if someone ever disses the iphone, apple can forbid that person from ever speaking publicly about iphone again.
    notice on the att website, iphone does not have a way for users to submit reviews.  thsi is message control.
    i am not advocating that for msft, but a little stronger attempt to control the destiny of this phone is required.

  • peter

    i have my own stories about ignorant att reps, already reported to att and elsewhere
    microsoft is being very complacent about selling this phone
    apple on the other hand has the right to veto any specific individual from representing iphone, in att. that is, if someone ever disses the iphone, apple can forbid that person from ever speaking publicly about iphone again.
    notice on the att website, iphone does not have a way for users to submit reviews.  thsi is message control.
    i am not advocating that for msft, but a little stronger attempt to control the destiny of this phone is required.

  • http://twitter.com/jwk6 Jason Kohlhoff

    I’ve counted how many times I’ve seen a Windows Phone 7 Ad in a Best Buy or Target sales paper since launch, and it’s 0 (zero).

  • Jason Kohlhoff

    I’ve counted how many times I’ve seen a Windows Phone 7 Ad in a Best Buy or Target sales paper since launch, and it’s 0 (zero).

  • Caschatte

    The first news of a virus will kill Nokia, wp7, and any related app sales………

  • Caschatte

    The first news of a virus will kill Nokia, wp7, and any related app sales………

  • http://twitter.com/itsluy Luy

    WP7 isn’t picking up momentum yet because it’s missing some key features and proper OEM support. It’s a great start however.

    What they need to focus on is getting the MS office and Office365 integration right – next round of “new every two” business users will be dying to replace their blackberry’s and app toys for a real work phone.

    Personally I can’t wait for windows phone 7 to get Mango and some decent hardware on verizon’s 4G LTE network. For now though Android will do. 

  • itsluy

    WP7 isn’t picking up momentum yet because it’s missing some key features and proper OEM support. It’s a great start however.

    What they need to focus on is getting the MS office and Office365 integration right – next round of “new every two” business users will be dying to replace their blackberry’s and app toys for a real work phone.

    Personally I can’t wait for windows phone 7 to get Mango and some decent hardware on verizon’s 4G LTE network. For now though Android will do. 

  • Matthewmsft

    completely agreed. i went to AT&T to get a focus, they’re like “u sure u wanna focus? those things aren’t selling very fast and they have less apps than android and iphone…” i’m like “yes, i wanna focus” the guy kept going on and on abt hao focus’s arent as good as iphones or androids

  • matthewthepc

    completely agreed. i went to AT&T to get a focus, they’re like “u sure u wanna focus? those things aren’t selling very fast and they have less apps than android and iphone…” i’m like “yes, i wanna focus” the guy kept going on and on abt hao focus’s arent as good as iphones or androids

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F2G7NM2LGV2RMG27LT7XMXZQBI milo

    It’s funny to assume that carrier stores don’t want to sell WP7 devices, but all evidence indicates it’s true!

    The following points are based on personal experience, when I was shopping for a new phone:
    1. you almost never see any posters of WP7 devices in stores. But there are Android ones.

    2. you almost never see a working WP7 demo model, the phones are locked safely in the storage room.
    One Rogers (Canada) salesman told me that they didn’t have any demo models (how’s that possible?), only sealed boxes, and that he couldn’t open one unless I buy the phone.

    3. if you don’t know what you want, salesmen will steer you to Android. Not only they’ll try to convince you that Android is the best OS, but they will never tell you about WP7. If you ask about it, they’ll  undersell it and they might even tell you lies (it’s slow, it’s buggy, apps are much more expensive than Android…)-interestingly I heard those things more than once- so if you haven’t done your research, you’ll walk out with an Android device. Unfortunately, that is the case with most consumers.

    So considering that WP7 is a new OS, all these factors are seriously affecting its sales.
    It has nothing to do with the UI of the OS, its quality or its functionality.
    Because people who are buying Android phones know almost nothing about WP7 and they’re not given the information to make a choice.
     

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F2G7NM2LGV2RMG27LT7XMXZQBI milo

    It’s funny to assume that carrier stores don’t want to sell WP7 devices, but all evidence indicates it’s true!

    The following points are based on personal experience, when I was shopping for a new phone:
    1. you almost never see any posters of WP7 devices in stores. But there are Android ones.

    2. you almost never see a working WP7 demo model, the phones are locked safely in the storage room.
    One Rogers (Canada) salesman told me that they didn’t have any demo models (how’s that possible?), only sealed boxes, and that he couldn’t open one unless I buy the phone.

    3. if you don’t know what you want, salesmen will steer you to Android. Not only they’ll try to convince you that Android is the best OS, but they will never tell you about WP7. If you ask about it, they’ll  undersell it and they might even tell you lies (it’s slow, it’s buggy, apps are much more expensive than Android…)-interestingly I heard those things more than once- so if you haven’t done your research, you’ll walk out with an Android device. Unfortunately, that is the case with most consumers.

    So considering that WP7 is a new OS, all these factors are seriously affecting its sales.
    It has nothing to do with the UI of the OS, its quality or its functionality.
    Because people who are buying Android phones know almost nothing about WP7 and they’re not given the information to make a choice.
     

  • Grt

    I agree dude.Never know whats wrong with the sellers.

  • Grt

    I agree dude.Never know whats wrong with the sellers.

  • Delibird444

    My favourite US Cellular store isn’t anything like this. I went in and asked if they were going to carry a Windows Phone 7, and right away the lady knew what it was and said “I’ve heard it may be out by the end of the 2011, probably in the fall”. Then she proceeded to ask me what was cool about the phone, because she wanted to know more.

    The people and support at US Cellular go above and beyond to get answers and to help out. And while yes, 45% of their floor space is dedicated to Android phones and the Galaxy tab, they’re not going to play salesman with you unless you ask, “What do you like, personally?”. The rest of our store is decorated with a big Blackberry kiosk, a large Windows Mobile 6.5 kiosk, and several dumbphone shelves. They treat all devices with respect and fairness, and they really try to hook a customer up with a phone that’s good for you (though they have politely warned me away from a few phones for HARDWARE reasons and issues- looking at you LG Tritan)

    I honestly don’t think I’d ever switch away from US Cellular- and once they get a WP7 phone, I’m going to be one happy customer.

    • Delibird444

      EDIT: And because of that, I know maybe four US Cellular customers with Android phones (EVERYONE around here has USCC), and only two of them truly like their phones and would recommend them (Both are HTC owners, the other two only got theirs because of sales). Because they don’t push certain phones in your face, you have all the tools you need to make a balanced choice, and most people choose Blackberry.

  • Delibird444

    My favourite US Cellular store isn’t anything like this. I went in and asked if they were going to carry a Windows Phone 7, and right away the lady knew what it was and said “I’ve heard it may be out by the end of the 2011, probably in the fall”. Then she proceeded to ask me what was cool about the phone, because she wanted to know more.

    The people and support at US Cellular go above and beyond to get answers and to help out. And while yes, 45% of their floor space is dedicated to Android phones and the Galaxy tab, they’re not going to play salesman with you unless you ask, “What do you like, personally?”. The rest of our store is decorated with a big Blackberry kiosk, a large Windows Mobile 6.5 kiosk, and several dumbphone shelves. They treat all devices with respect and fairness, and they really try to hook a customer up with a phone that’s good for you (though they have politely warned me away from a few phones for HARDWARE reasons and issues- looking at you LG Tritan)

    I honestly don’t think I’d ever switch away from US Cellular- and once they get a WP7 phone, I’m going to be one happy customer.

    • Delibird444

      EDIT: And because of that, I know maybe four US Cellular customers with Android phones (EVERYONE around here has USCC), and only two of them truly like their phones and would recommend them (Both are HTC owners, the other two only got theirs because of sales). Because they don’t push certain phones in your face, you have all the tools you need to make a balanced choice, and most people choose Blackberry.

  • matthewthepc

    I feel like going to mai AT&T and asking to buy a WP7, when they tell me it’s sh!t i’ll ask them why and point out all the sellers lies and make ‘em seem like stupid idiots-.-

  • Matthewmsft

    I feel like going to mai AT&T and asking to buy a WP7, when they tell me it’s sh!t i’ll ask them why and point out all the sellers lies and make ‘em seem like stupid idiots-.-