Hardware

MSFT: 1.5 Million Windows Phones Sold in Six Weeks

Microsoft has finally revealed some Windows Phones sales figures and they're good: "We are pleased that phone manufacturers sold over 1.5 million phones in the first six weeks, which helps build customer momentum and retail presence."

However this apparently doesn't reflect the numbers of actual handsets sold to consumers. It's phones sold from OEMs to carriers. Some commentators have expressed total skepticism that consumers are buying the phones. I'll withhold judgment for now. 

There are also reportedly 4,000 apps in the Windows Marketplace, another reasonably good start. 

So this isn't the disaster that Microsoft's silence suggested. Yet the absence of direct consumer data doesn't tell us the true level of consumer demand but the initial data are potentially promising for Microsoft. 

Google Opens Door to Homescreen Ads on Android with Holiday Wallpaper

Idle screen advertising is something that's been discussed for several years but there are no really successful implementations in market (that I'm aware of). Google may have just created the first one in the form of branded "live wallpaper." Coke has developed a pretty restrained "snow globle" holiday themed live wallpaper for Android that one can download like an app from the Android market.

It features swirling snow and some objects or characters that move around as you tilt the handset. You can also pan across a wintry town square (where's George Bailey?). Coke branding exists in the form of a building with the Coke sign and some Coke-branded delivery trucks in the background; it's pretty tasteful. 

I'm sure Google will be watching the reaction. Regardless it opens the door to branded live wallpapers, in much the same way that Yahoo has now put ads on its mail log-in screen. I'm sure we'll see more of these in Q1. If they're done well and clever, users will download them. It creates a powerful opportunity for brands to be top-of-mind for users and have a persistent (and intimate) presence in a way that they would not have on any other medium. 

The question in my mind is whether any functionality or further interactivity gets added to this as it evolves (e.g., push the button for the daily deal or weekly special, etc.).  

Here's a video demonstrating the Coke live wallpaper: 

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Nokia Considering Both Windows Phone OS and Android?

One report out this morning, being widely picked up, suggests that Nokia is considering putting the Windows Mobile OS (7) on some of its phones:

Nokia has started talks with Microsoft to expand their cooperation. The talks were initiated by the new Nokia management.  And they are talking not about the technology exchange, or more Microsoft apps on Nokia phones. They are talking about the creation of new line of Windows Phone devices, which could be sold under Nokia brand, via Nokia distribution channels and have some typical  Nokia features.

Earlier Android chief Andy Rubin suggested in a recent conference appearance that it the wake of management changes at Nokia the company might be open to building phones that run Android. Despite prior Nokia hostility toward Android, Rubin hinted Google and Nokia might already be talking about the hardware OEM using the Google OS: 

Asked pointedly whether Google has discussed Android with Nokia, Rubin answered: "I think the company has new leadership and ... they are evaluating what their options are ... I'm a big proponent of Android and I hope they adopt it."

About whether a meeting took place, Rubin only said: "I'm not going to talk in detail."

It's possible that new Nokia CEO (former Microsoft Exec.) Stephen Elop is talking to both Google and Microsoft and will test non-Nokia operating systems on selected phones. Symbian has been unable to compete in North America and Europe against the iPhone and increasingly Android smartphones. Nokia continues to dominate in a range of markets around the world with inexpensive handsets. 

Without publicly saying so, Nokia has shifted from Symbian to MeeGo as the high-end OS that it hopes will create a more competitive smartphone experience (as well as on other devices). However, the first MeeGo devices will not be seen until at least the middle of next year.

Each quarter Nokia fails to deliver a more compelling smartphone product is one that Apple or Google will steal more share. Of the two, Android is the one that Nokia needs to worry about more because it can compete with the company at the lower end of the price spectrum, whereas the iPhone cannot as readily.

Elop's Microsoft background and affinity may predispose him to working with Redmond. Then there's the old logic of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."  

Will MSFT Be 'Compelled' to Buy RIM?

Today RIM reported Q3 results. They were positive:

  • Record BlackBerry smartphone shipments of 14.2 million grew 40% over the same quarter last year
  • Revenue grew 40% over the same quarter last year to $5.5 billion
  • Q3 Earnings per share of $1.74 were up 58% over the same quarter last year

These sales figures fly in the face of the gloomy narrative surrounding RIM's outlook. But the totality of evidence about demand for RIM devices doesn't add up. Surveys consistently show RIM's BlackBerry handsets as "less desired" or lower in customer satisfaction than the iPhone or Android. There's also heavily conflicting data on BlackBerry driven web-usage, with StatCounter showing more web access from RIM handsets in North America than the iPhone.

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Are RIM's sales being buoyed by "two for one" deals and legacy enterprise demand? Not according to RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie who reported strong interest in RIM's tablet and forecast a very strong Q4.

Meanwhile we don't have any solid data on Windows Phone sales. Microsoft's conspicuous silence suggests a lack of momentum, however. Yesterday mobile ad network Chitika seemed to confirm modest-to-poor sales with data based on analysis of traffic on its network that

iPhone Android and WP7

There's a software update reportedly coming in February for Windows Phones. However that may not do very much to improve consumer demand. In my brief time "playing" with one last week I was generally impressed with the handset. However I don't like the homescreen aesthetically. 

If it wants to boost interest in Windows Phones Microsoft may need to take some radical steps soon. 

One of the frequent "memes" in the mobile world argues that Microsoft will need to buy RIM (or Nokia) if it cannot independently gain traction with its own devices. Next year will be a critical one for Microsoft, less so for RIM it would appear. However attempting to Buy RIM (or Nokia) would be a very expensive proposition for the company. 

RIM's market capitalization is $32 billion. But it's not out of the question for Redmond, which was willing to pay $44 billion to acquire Yahoo two years ago. 

The Nexus S Goes on Sale

The Android 2.3 Nexus S (T-Mobile in the US) is going on sale today for $199 with a contract and $529 without. The phone is NFC-enabled, which isn't meaningful to anyone right now because there's no NFC infrastructure for users to tap into. But it will be a feature of Android going forward. It also suggests Google's future intentions with regard to ads and payments on mobile devices. 

Overall the handset is the best and most elegant and fully realized of the Android devices on the market (until the next one comes out next month). My HTC EVO is a "tank" by comparison. (I could put it in a sock and kill someone with it.) I'm not a fan of the "green" Samsung display however. I've been using it for the past week and really like the device. There's not much to criticize. I would buy one in a heartbeat if I didn't already have my EVO.

I haven't noticed many significant differences, beyond NFC inclusion, between Froyo and Gingerbread. It is however less "substantial" than its N1 predecessor and feels more like a "generic" Android device than a uniquely Google device (in the way the N1 felt different). 

The differences between the iPhone and Nexus S are fewer than earlier and other Android devices -- the keyboard still under-performs (Swiftkey is still a must). But it's a pretty compelling handset overall. And for those who are heavy users of Google services, it's arguably better bet than the iPhone. 

The two big differentiators for Android (vs the iPhone) are Navigation and Voice Actions. The iPhone has voice search and various alternative navigation apps and tools. But the integration of Google's services with Navigation is pretty compelling (never mind that directions are poor sometimes). 

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Surprise: iPhone 2X Activations of All Verizon's Smartphones Combined

With millions in marketing spend Verizon "made" Android in the US to compete with AT&T's iPhone. Now Verizon may need the iPhone to prevent it from becoming too dependent on Android.

According to provocative estimates and analysis from AllThingsD (relying on financial analyst data) and the Asymco blog:

  • RIM sales at VZW declined 45% YoY in Q3
  • 80% of VZW's smartphone sales in November were Android
  • Verizon is potentially losing bargaining power against Google/Android given the sales volume Android commands

Source: Asymco

In addition the Asymco post argues that in Q3 "the iPhone at AT&T outsold Android [all devices] at Verizon by a factor of 2.5X." These data and analysis tell a very different story than the Garnter-IDC-comScore narrative of Android dominating the market. In fact they're a bit confusing because they seem dramatically in opposition to the "Android juggernaut" narrative.

It will be very interesting to see whether and by how much a Verizon iPhone impacts Android sales. Regardless, if these data are correct RIM should be extremely concerned. It still has the most units in the market but they seem to confirm the BlackBerry "doomsday scenarios." 

Smartphones Will Spell End of Mass Digital Camera Market

The picture at right is the first digital camera, from Kodak (circa 1975). The first mass-produced and commercially viable digital cameras started showing up in the early 1990s and destroyed the film-camera business very rapidly -- in just a few years.

The digital camera market itself is now similarly under threat and may face the same fate as its film camera-predecessor. Digital photography won't die or be marginialized, just digital cameras.

We realized last night that my 11 year old daughter owns four digital cameras, three of which shoot video as well:

  • iPod Touch 4 (still + video)
  • Kodak Zi8 (still + video)
  • A Kodak Easy Share camera (still + video)
  • A mobile phone with a camera (not a smartphone) 

Among the four, which is the camera she uses the least? You guessed it: the actual camera.

The chief and relatively obvious cause of the demise of digital point-and-shoot cameras is smartphones. This is no revelation. And as smartphones grow to 40% and 50% of the market digital cameras will see a corresponding flattening or decline in their market. The only way for mass-produced digital cameras to survive is to become cheaper and add capabilities. Regardless their market will be shrinking and probably disappearing over time. 

Smartphones now include rapidly improving cameras, exemplified by the newest devices from Nokia at least two of which have 10 megapixel cameras -- with a 12 megapixel on the way. And it's not just megapixels, smartphone cameras are gaining a wide range of upgrades to improve image quality.

You're always going to have your smartphone but your camera will be in a drawer at home. So as smartphone cameras improve and more smartphones are bought people will have a diminishing need bring along their digital cameras, though professionals and (the unfortunately named) "prosumers" will still use them. The bulk of the consumer market, however, will use smartphones as their primary cameras going forward.

CNet disagrees with me. But when you get into their argument it's all about features. Accordingly, as I said, as smartphone camera features and quality improve -- as they will in a hyper-competitive hardware market -- the people who will want a point and shoot digital camera will dramatically decline. 

Can Nokia Avoid Android for Much Longer?

With a number of mixed reviews to date, it doesn't appear that MeeGo will solve Nokia's competitive problems in the US -- or maybe anywhere else. Among smartphone owners and would-be smartphone buyers Nokia isn't on the radar in the US market. Arguably the weakness is not the hardware but the mobile OS.

Financial analysts have been urging Nokia (and RIM) to adopt Android going foward. However an outgoing Nokia executive was very critical of the idea previously:

A Financial Times interview with Anssi Vanjoki, the departing chief of Nokia’s smartphone division, said that hardware OEMs who've adopted Android (e.g., Motorola, Samsung) are like "Finnish boys who'pee in their pants' for warmth in the winter. Temporary relief is followed by an even worse predicament."

Vanjoki argued that while there would be some immediate gains and cost savings, in the long term adopting Android would be destructive of Nokia. Adopting Android, he argued, would turn Nokia into "a commoditised box-maker like Dell, scrapping for market share with rivals that all use Android and so seem more or less the same."

Android chief Andy Rubin suggested in a recent conference appearance that it the wake of management changes at Nokia the company might be open to Android. Rubin hinted Google and Nokia might already be talking about the hardware OEM using the Google OS: 

Asked pointedly whether Google has discussed Android with Nokia, Rubin answered: "I think the company has new leadership and ... they are evaluating what their options are ... I'm a big proponent of Android and I hope they adopt it."

About whether a meeting took place, Rubin only said: "I'm not going to talk in detail."

A Nokia spokeswoman refused to comment Wednesday on whether executives from the two firms have discussed Android adoption by Nokia.

Recent comScore estimates show that Nokia has a pesence in the feature phone market in the US but almost none in the smartphone segment. 

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If the world's largest handset OEM were to adopt Android it would dramatically boost the OS and could build Nokia's share in the US. But it would turn the Finnish company into "a commoditised box-maker like Dell." The question is whether Nokia will have any choice. 

Nexus S the New Android "It Phone"

This morning Google announced the new Nexus S (built by Samsung but branded Google). Eric Schmidt showed it off at the recent Web 2.0 event in San Francisco.

It's the new Android "it phone" and is the first to feature the new version of the OS: Gingerbread (2.3). The phone is intended to offer "the pure Google experience" on a phone. According to Google:

Gingerbread is the fastest version of Android yet, and it delivers a number of improvements, such as user interface refinements, NFC support, a new keyboard and text selection tool, Internet (VoIP/SIP) calling, improved copy/paste functionality and gyroscope sensor support.

The Nexus S will be available (unlocked) from retailer Best Buy next week in the US and in the UK after 12/20 from Carphone Warehouse. Take a look at the site and how Apple-influenced the look and feel are (at least in the "features" area).

Here are the Nexus S specs from Samsung. Most noteworthy perhaps is the inclusion of NFC, which makes it mobile-payments ready. 

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Google doesn't really have its own play in mobile payments and I would expect the company to make a fairly significant acquisition in the near term accordingly. But that's a matter for another day.

This phone looks pretty "sexy." The question is how much will it cost? 

Survey: iPhone Outselling N8 6 to 1

The Nokia N8 handset is being outsold by the iPhone in Europe 6 to 1 according to a Morgan Stanley survey of 150 European wireless phone retailers released last week. However the Nokia Symbian 3 handset is reportedly meeting sales targets despite this apparently poor showing.

According to Morgan Stanley's research here are the bestselling smartphones in Europe right now in order of volume:

  1. iPhone
  2. Samsung Tocco Lite
  3. Samsung Galaxy S
  4. Nokia 5230
  5. BlackBerry Curve
  6. Nokia N8

When Smartphones Cross the 50% Barrier

ComScore said last week that smartphones are now 25% of the total mobile handset base in the US. By contrast Nielsen reported that 29.7 percent of US mobile subscribers own smartphones.

Earlier this year Nielsen said that smartphone adoption was on track to cross the 50% threshold by Q3 of next year. Others basically agree.

My guess is that a year from now we'll see something in the high forty-percent range (say 48%). But very close to 50% if not 50%. This will be especially true if the pricing on smartphones continues to be as aggressive as it has recently been for the holidays. Best Buy for example is offering many models of smartphones (mostly Android) for free with two-year contracts.

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BlackBerry has been doing aggressive two-for-one pricing for a long time. These sorts of pricing moves will continue to drive adoption and Android is likely to be the chief beneficiary. Although Radio Shack has reduced the price of iPhone 4 by $50 through the holidays. 

When smartphones do reach 50% of the US mobile market it will be a very significant threshold both as a practical and psychological matter. No one will be able to ignore the behavior at that point or the query volumes coming from these devices. Mobile Internet usage will be primary for some people and perhaps certain demographic segments as a whole. For example, Opera recently found that "Gen Y" users were on the mobile Internet far more than its PC sibling: 

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The implications of this are pretty radical for both publishers and marketers. And remember 53% of mobile searches (on Bing) have a local intent.  

Galaxy Tab's Million Unit Sales Suggest Popularity of Smaller Form Factor

The iPad is a great device but for true "mobility" it's arguably too large. The smartphone, for others, is too small for many tasks such as watching video, reading news or ebooks -- especially after doing these things on an iPad. What's the solution? The "Goldilocks" form factor, which provides usability and mobility, may well be the 7-inch tablet.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs attacked the 7" as too small and too big simultaneously. Conceptually he may be right but the apparent popularity of the Galaxy Tab suggests there are a lot of people looking for a larger screen (vs. a smartphone) in a more mobile unit. Tech publication eWeek reported that maker Samsung said that a million units have been sold since the recent launch of the Tab. 

My brief experience with the Galaxy Tab in a store in London revealed to me that it offers much weaker user experience than the iPad. Not all agree however. But my belief is that the smaller form factor is driving sales, rather than the particulars of this device. The user experience, like Android more generally, is "good enough" but the smaller form factor is attractive to many people.

The RIM/BlackBerry Playbook is also 7 inches. The Playbook isn't out yet but it promises to be a credible competitor in the tablet market. There are many other 7-inch tablets coming as well. Acer, in particular, is launching 5 inch, 7 inch and 10 inch models.

The 5-inch Dell Streak, a non-phone connected device, is unlikely to succeed because it's expensive and not sufficiently differentiated from a smartphone. Indeed, five inches is probably too small for a tablet, unless it's also a phone, and anything larger than the iPad is too large. The dual-screen version of tablet-textbook Kno, for example, is likely to fail because it's too large and cumbersome.

My guess, however, is that the 7-inch form factor will take hold. So we'll have a range of smartphone sizes, topping out at about 5 inches, and two viable tablets sizes: 7 inches and roughly 10 inches. Apple will then be forced to confront whether it wants to build an "iPad Nano" or cede the market to others. 

RIM Buys Usability and UI Shop TAT

Although many will disagree, one of the great weakness of the BlackBery universe is the UI and overall user experience. I'm sure no one could successfully argue that on other than the keyboard front RIM beats the iPhone or even Android at this point.

To remedy that RIM has acquired interface design and usability experts The Astonishing Tribe. The purchase price wasn't disclosed.

It's an important -- even urgent -- move for RIM in the company's bid to remain one of the top smartphone purveyors and grow their business internationally. There are mixed signals about RIM's sales performance and outlook.

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Generally speaking the company is on the defensive and not expected to maintain its leadership position in North America -- although one report found that RIM devices had overtaken iPhone on the mobile Web in the US. I remain quite skeptical of that however. 

Regardless this is a good move for RIM. Now Waterloo needs to give TAT maximum flexibility to design next-gen user experiences for the venerable platform. 

Sailing or Flailing: The Mystery of BlackBerry's Momentum

The health of RIM and its BlackBerry devices is a bit of a mystery with a bunch of contradictory data and forecasts in the market. Sales figures show RIM in decline around the globe vs. Android and the iPhone. Its new flagship Torch doesn't appear to be a hit.

According to Nielsen data RIM devices are "most desired" by a minority 12.5% of future smartphone buyers. Longer term forecasts discount RIM and argue its grip on the enterprise is slipping.

Nielsen argued this morning with newly released survey data that the iPhone had now pulled even with RIM in US market share. There are many indications that RIM sales volume has been propped up in the recent past by aggressive pricing. Its new hope, the PlayBook tablet, was apparently snubbed by Chase in favor of the iPad. 

So it looks pretty grim at RIM. Yet . . . today StatCounter reports that RIM devices have overtaken the iPhone in mobile Web traffic:

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However, yesterday Royal Pingdom (using StatCounter data) appeared to show that RIM was a bit player in terms of mobile Web access in North America and around the globe: 

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This new StatCounter data showing RIM overtaking iOS (not just the iPhone) is really strange and somewhat unbelievable frankly. However Millennial Media has also reported growth in mobile Web traffic from BlackBerry devices in the recent past. The ad network said this week, "Since January, RIM has grown 243%" on its network. 

We'll have to see if this holds over the next couple of months and then, in Q1 2011, whether RIM is holding and growing -- or in decline.

Nielsen: Women Want iPhones, Dudes Want Droids, Smartphones Nearing 30%

There's now quite a bit of conflicting data in the US market about loyalty, satisfaction and intended future smartphone purchases. See, for example:

Nielsen has come out with some new survey based data that argues Android is starting to reach parity with the iPhone in terms of “most desired” next device and among men it slightly exceeds the iPhone:

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Here are some of the findings from the firm's quarterly survey of just under 20K mobile users: 

  • Current smartphone owners planning to upgrade showed a preference for the iPhone 35% vs. 28% for Android
  • The iPhone and Android were “most desired” "among likely smartphone upgraders, with Apple showing a slight lead among those age 55+ , 18 to 24, and 25 to 34"
  • By contrast a larger percentage of featurephone users planning to upgrade to smartphones were less sure of which brand to buy (25% vs. 13% among current smartphone owners)

More interesting and important than the perpetual iPhone vs. Android discussion is the data showing smartphone penetration very close to 30% in the US. The data also show the iPhone and RIM now with an equivalent share of devices (27.9%) with Android not far behind (22%). It's not yet clear how well Windows Phone 7 is doing. There's some anecodtal evidence that it's not selling well despite generally positive reviews. 

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Again, these data are self-reported (and not based on unit sales) but the sample size was huge and so we can fairly reliably generalize the findings to the broader market.  

Survey: Smartphone Market Still Up for Grabs

With many smug spinmeisters and pundits proclaiming that the "smartphone wars" are over (with Apple and Google as winners), a new survey from GfK (n=2,653 mobile users in UK, US, Brazil, Germany, Spain and China) suggests a much more fluid marketplace. 

The survey found that as many as 75% of current smartphone users are open to changing or will change mobile OSs when they get new phones. Overall only 25% were loyal to their existing OS. Analysis of the findings argues that consumers are "keeping options open" as new smartphones come out on a seemingly weekly basis. This is particularly acute on the Android platform.

The frenzy of releases and the fast-changing nature of the device market has likely created the "disloyalty" reflected in the survey data. However I would caution that the sample sizes break down and become very small on an individual country basis.  

Among individual operating systems, the survey found that loyalty was highest to the iPhone (59%) and lowest for Microsoft (21%). Android and Nokia didn't fare much better (at 28% and 24% respectively). RIM saw 35% of BlackBerry users saying they would likely stay on the platform.

Earlier this year Nielsen found that the iPhone had slightly higher levels of loyalty than Android. But these findings showed much higher loyalty levels for both platforms and especially Android. Indeed, these US-only findings are dramatically different than those from the GfK survey. 

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Tweens Want iPads, Teens and Adults Want TVs

Some interesting data was published by Nielsen this week on intended future purchases. The data reflect the electronics wish lists of younger kids and those over 13 years of age. Everyone wants a new "computer," but the lists diverge otherwise.

Tweens and younger kids want the iPad and iPod Touch devices. The iPhone is further down the list. According to the data, those over 13 want smartphones (not the iPhone) before the iPad. Similarly the iPhone is down the list. 

Thus it would appear that for both groups of respondents the iPhone has lost some luster. The likely beneficiary of non-iPhone smartphone interest is probably Android and its OEMs. 

Interest in Buying in the Next 6 Months (%): Kids 6-12

interest-in-buying-2

Parents: here is your shopping list. 

 

The Outlook for WebOS: Not Good

In the US Sprint reportedly won't be selling any more Palm Pre 1 devices and it may not support the forthcoming Palm Pre 2. Meanwhile the Pre 2 won't have any subsidized carrier support in the UK, although the device will go on sale. Regardless the public won't be interested in the Pre 2 unless it's much improved -- and cheap. 

HP bought Palm for roughly $1.2 billion earlier this year. The rationale was to get WebOS and build devices on top of it. First it didn't appear that smartphones were part of the picture for HP but then the company said it would continue to build smartphones as well as tablet devices. Meanwhile Palm has steadily been losing people. 

The combination of the fact that carriers are less and less interested in Palm smartphones with the leadership instability at HP and the loss of key personnel from Palm suggests that the outlook for WebOS and Palm devices is getting bleak. 

Palm/HP would need to introduce a totally new smartphone form factor to get carriers and consumers interested. It blew the Pre launch by underestimating the importance of apps and getting some UX elements very wrong. Beyond that it was a nice phone -- that I couldn't wait to get rid of. 

If HP doesn't act fairly decisively in the next year and put out a tablet and/or new smartphone(s) it may find that it has entirely wasted its $1.2 billion. 

Related: In direct contrast to the above, Palm chief Rubenstein offers very upbeat assessment of Palm's prospects going foward. 

Galaxy Tab's Strangely Polarized Reviews

The initial reviews of the Galaxy Tab are out, with the the New York Times' David Pogue giving it a near rave, except for the price. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg offers a favorable but more mixed review and tech blog Gizmodo absoutely trashes it. How is this possible, are these guys all reviewing the same device? I've not seen such a difference of opinion on a gadget in recent memory.

Pogue:

So yes, the dawn of the would-be iPad is upon us. But the Android tablet concept represents more than just a lame effort to grab a slice of tablet hype. As with Android phones, it represents an alternative that’s different enough to justify its existence. You’re buying into a different approach to size, built-in goodies like cameras and GPS, and the more freewheeling Android app store. 

Mossberg:

The Tab is attractive, versatile and competitively priced, though monthly cell fees can add up. It’s different enough from the iPad, yet good enough, to give consumers a real choice.

Gizmodo:

Typically, the point of a compromise is to bring together the best of both sides. The Tab is like a compromise's evil twin, merging the worst of a tablet and the worst of a phone. It has all of the input problems of a tablet, with almost none of the consumption benefits. With more apps geared to its tweener size, it could be a lot better, but it's not clear they're coming anytime soon, if ever. The Tab is an awkward first attempt at this kind of tablet—wait for somebody else to do it better.

What's most disappointing to me is that the carriers aren't letting this be used as a phone. There's no reason why not technically. If the Tab were capable of being used as a phone (beyond VoiP) it would be a more attractive proposition. In this regard it's very much like the ZTE Peel + iPod Touch ("Sprint's iPhone") -- a connected mobile Internet device that can use VoIP to become a phone. The Tab is less like the iPad because of its screen size and its greater portability. 

We're not yet at the point where someone seeking a single device will give up a more traditional phone (even a smartphone) in favor of a "connected device" with a larger screen + VoIP. But that time may be coming in the near future. 

Windows Phones Sell 40K Units, Samsung Ships 3 Million Galaxy S Phones

I've been trying to get a Windows Phone to no avail; I'm not on the "A-List" of gadget testers. Repeated requests to Microsoft have so far been ineffective. So yesterday I went into an AT&T store to play with one.

Windows Phone branding and promotion were all over the store; Windows Phones are the new iPhone for AT&T. However there wasn't a unit on the floor. After wandering around the store looking at all the handsets I finally asked the "greeter," "I'd like to take a look at one of the new Windows Phones, where would I find it?" The guy offered to put my name on a list that had about seven people on it. He told me it would be about 45 minutes to an hour before I could get access to one. "I just want to see the phone," I said. He didn't have an answer for me.

As I left, frustrated, I thought: what the heck is AT&T doing? Is this some sort of hazing ritual to weed out unqualified buyers? Is this an attempt to build momentum and perceived demand through artificial scarcity? It was strange and wrong-headed from a marketing and customer service perspective under any conceivable scenario.

There have been mixed reports about demand for the new handset. It sold out in Germany but there have also been US reports of only modest interest. One financial firm estimated initial sales at only 40K units. But this is a very premature assessment of the success or failure of the handset. When we have a full quarter of sales we'll know better what consumers think. 

Meanwhile Samsung said it had shipped 7 million Galaxy S Android phones, 3 million of them to the US. Samsung is the leading handset OEM in the US market overall according to recent comScore data. 

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Samsung is competing with HTC, Motorola and LG to be the leading Android OEM. Indeed I believe that Samsung will ultimately emerge as the Android volume winner, eclipsing HTC and Motorola. Motorola in particular wil have a greater challenge vs its Android rivals and will need to be supremely clever about hardware and software choices to continue to succeed as an Android OEM.

Droid has already lost its luster vs. Galaxy S. But that could change again if a new and more shiny Android handset comes out next week.