Microsoft Selling "Four Times" As Many WP8 Phones As WP7 Phones, But What Does It Mean?

There's good news and bad. First, the good. According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, his company is selling "four times" as many Windows Phone handsets as this time last year, and he's attributing that in large part to Windows Phone 8 being available across three of America's four largest carriers. But here's the bad news: no one outside of Microsoft truly knows what that means. It's impossible to really put a target on something so vague, and given that Microsoft isn't telling how many WP7 products it sold during the holidays last year, there's no true way to compare.

Ballmer, speaking this week at a shareholder meeting, said: "Windows Phone 8 has been on sale for a few weeks and is off to a great start." But of course, cheer-leading is to be expected. The only other major product in Microsoft's portfolio where it has been intentionally vague on numbers is the Surface, which most reports believe hasn't done too well compared to the iPad. Research groups that track mobile market share have pegged Windows Phone at around five percent in recent quarters, but it'll be interesting to see if WP8 enables it to gain any ground.

The OS may be pretty, but the ecosystem is bare and the app marketplace is still largely a ghost town. It most certainly won't be an easy road to #2 or #3.