Samsung’s (005930) lead Windows Phone 8 model, the ATIV S, is finally hitting retail outlets in the United Kingdom. The supply of Nokia (NOK) Lumia 920 models has just improved in Europe and it just hit the number one and number two positions at Expansys UK. HTC (2498) is ramping up its 8S model and five out of Top Ten smartphones at Expansys UK pre-order chart are now Windows phones. Seven out of top ten phones on Expansys Germany are Windows models. A leading British handset sales tracked Uswitch is now showing both Lumia 920 and 820 climbing to its top 10 chart. A steep price cut has buoyed Nokia 800 to number one on Amazon UK handset list and onto DialAPhone list of best-sellers. Clove UK is showing several Lumias on its Hot List.
This is it. Until this week, supply constraints have muddied the picture on what the real demand is for Windows Phone devices. Now Nokia and HTC have improved supply and Samsung is launching ATIV. At the moment, both web retailers and several major operators are giving Windows prominent placement in their marketing campaigns in Europe. There are no more excuses. Clearly, the consumer interest is much higher in Europe than it is in United States. And the three key vendors are targeting the two biggest smartphone markets in Europe for their biggest Windows marketing push. The consumers in the United Kingdom and Germany are now effectively starting to decide whether Windows Phone has a future in the global smartphone market. If this cluster of Windows phones cannot flourish in these two countries, Windows is not going to make it as a mobile OS.
The encouraging signs here are that as the Lumia 920 supply has improved, it has shown new life on various sales charts; the old Lumia 800 seems to have a pulse as a budget phone; there clearly is some interest in HTC 8S; and Samsung did manage to launch ATIV S before Christmas. The big question is whether the surge of interest that is taking place in Europe carries over into January and February or if it is just a limited group of Windows fans throwing a short party. In that sense the January numbers will be far more important than December figures. At the moment perhaps the most intriguing pattern is how the pre-order performance of Samsung’s ATIV S seems to lag the Windows models of Nokia and HTC across several web retailers.