Ina Fried

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Microsoft: We’ve Sold 1.5 Million Windows Phones, if You Must Know

Redmond decided to finally come clean on Windows Phone 7 sales, announcing on Tuesday that its partners have sold 1.5 million units since its new phones hit the market six weeks ago.

“We know we have tough competition, and this is a completely new product,” Vice President Achim Berg said in an article on the company’s press Web site. “We’re in the race–it’s not a sprint but we are certainly gaining momentum and we’re in it for the long run.”

Until now, Microsoft had said that it was “happy” with sales, but had refused to say how many devices had sold. AT&T and T-Mobile had also declined to say how many models had sold since U.S. sales started Nov. 8. Windows Phone 7 models went on sale in Europe in late October.

Berg repeated that the sales have met Microsoft’s expectations.

“Yes, and I think our expectations are realistic for a new platform,” he said, noting that the company is essentially starting over with Windows Phone 7. He also cautioned against comparing it to the competition. “It’s a bit of apples and oranges comparison; our numbers are similar to the performance of other first generation mobile platforms,” Berg said. “We introduced a new platform with Windows Phone 7, and when you do that it takes time to educate partners and consumers on what you’re delivering, and drive awareness and interest in your new offering. We’re comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run; Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning.”

Microsoft is expected to announce an update for Windows Phone 7 in January that will add a copy-and-paste function as well as support for CDMA carriers. That will allow Verizon and Sprint to offer Windows Phone 7 models. Both carriers have said they will, but Microsoft made the decision to delay CDMA support until next year in order to meet its goal of having the initial version out by this year’s holiday season.

Berg also noted it plans to have phones at a variety of price points next year. Nearly all of the models that went on sale in the U.S. were priced at $199, although there has been some significant discounting.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa said in a note that he is particularly impressed by the speed with which Windows Phone 7 applications have hit the market.

“The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace reaching 4,000 apps two months after launch has to be one of the most rapid ramp-ups in recent times,” he said in a note to reporters. “Of course with both iPhone and Android app stores being much bigger, Microsoft still has its work cut out for it. However, reaching this milestone faster than Android which took from Oct 2008 to March 2009 to reach about the same level, it is not bad!”

Hilwa also said that Microsoft hasn’t done bad in having 10 phones on the market in 30 countries.

“Windows Phone 7 has changed the conversation and I would not be surprised if Microsoft had the third largest app portfolio in the industry by the middle of next year,” he said, pointing to the company’s strong set of developer tools.

Update: It is worth noting that the 1.5 million units represent “sell in”–that is, the phones that device makers like Samsung and HTC have sold to carriers, not the number of phones actually purchased by consumers. We’ll have to wait a bit to hear about those “sell through” numbers.

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