The most recent survey to expose the lack of desire for Windows Phones is by The Nielsen Company, which rates smartphones by how “desirable” they are, as if they are curvy supermodels rather than consumer gadgets.
But silly as it sounds, smartphones have become status symbols, even sex symbols. That’s why you can push the word “desire” in a smartphone survey and it doesn’t seem that strange.
I just better not see any surveys asking “Which smartphone would you rather sleep with?”
It’s the “most desired” label that kills Windows Phones. Nobody desires anything from Microsoft. Microsoft just isn’t in the “desire” business.
On the other hand, Google’s Droid phones and the Apple iPhone are heating up 3G networks like a Rihanna video. These two are by far the most desired, loved and lusted after smartphones in the Nielsen Company survey.
Android’s overall market share momentum also stands out in the survey. As overall smartphone use grows every quarter, Android jumped from 13 percent market share in the second quarter to 22.7 percent in the quarter ending in October, the biggest gain of any smartphone OS, according to Nielsen. iPhone (27.9 percent) has a slim lead over Blackberry (27.4 percent) for the overall market share, although former leader Blackberry’s share dropped 7.6 percent from the second to third quarter.
But back to desirability. The term desire implies wanting something you don’t have, so the questions in the Nielsen survey are about respondents’ next phone.
Windows Phones have only been available for two months, but so far they leave a lot to be desired, according to the survey, as smartphone consumers continue to lust after the beautiful, touch-screen happy iPhone and Android phones in almost equal measures.
Among users of both smartphones and non-smartphones planning to get a new smartphone, only 6 percent have their eye on a Windows Phone, while 30 percent want the iPhone and 28 percent want a Droid phone. Current smartphone users take more of liking to iPhone than Droid, 35 percent to 28 percent. While feature phone (non-smartphone) users desire Android more than iPhone, 28 percent to 25 percent, respectively.
It’s a photo finish between the iPhone and Android across age ranges: 18-24 and 25-34 year olds have a slight preference for iPhone, but the momentum switches to Android for 34-54 year olds. Across gender lines, men prefer the marketed-for-men Droid phones more than the iPhone, 32.6 percent to 28.6 percent respectively. It goes the other way for women, with 31 percent of women crushing on the iPhone and 22.8 percent going for Android.
Windows Phones barely register with the young (18-24), gathering just 3.7 percent on the desirability scale. Windows Phones jump to 6.5 percent for the next two age ranges.
But in all categories, Windows Phones are in trouble, averaging around 6 percent of overall desirability. By gender, by age, by featurephone users looking at smartphones, and by smartphones users looking for a better smartphone, Windows Phones are stuck at the bottom of the stack with the dreaded “other” category.
In only one category does Windows Phone come close to catching third-place finisher Blackberry: It’s the rather unsexy 55+ age category, where Windows Phones gather 10.3 percent of desire compared to Blackberry’s 12.1 percent.
The spotlight only seems to shine on the iPhone and Android, for both desirability and, increasingly, market share. It’s become a two-horse race for the hearts and minds (and loins?) of consumers, according to the Nielsen numbers, and Windows Phones, despite having a sleek, attractive interface and boatloads of Microsoft marketing money, are festering in a distant fourth-place.
What will it take for Windows Phones to turn you on? Cooler advertising? More features? Price cuts? Time?
Shane O’Neill covers Microsoft, Windows, Operating Systems, Productivity Apps and Online Services for CIO.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Shane at email@example.com.