Maybe Android's biggest threat isn't the iPhone 5. According to a new report from the NPD Group, nearly half of smartphone owners and intenders are interested in Windows Phone 7 as their next smartphone purchase.
Granted, Android tops this survey with 63 percent of those polled interested in the OS. But Windows Phone's interest level of 44 percent isn't that far behind Google's platform. That's good news for Microsoft, which has Windows Phone 7.5 Mango software and new phones like the 4.7-inch HTC Titan on the way. The biggest problem for Microsoft's OS? Not enough people know about it.
NPD says that 45 percent of consumers are still not aware of Windows Phone 7. A lack of awareness was also cited as the No. 1 reason for a lack of interest in WP7. The second most offered reason was OS ecosystem lock-in (i.e., 21 percent said they have “too much time or money invested in another smartphone OS.”) This is a legitimate concern, especially with proprietary content services like Zune, but Microsoft has opened things up to include Netflix and other third parties.
According to Linda Barrabee, research director for NPD's Connected Intelligence service, Microsoft could solve the consumer education problem and convert those 44 percenters who are interested in Windows Phone with "the right marketing mojo, apps portfolio, and feature-rich hardware."
That's a pretty tall order, so we'll have to wait and see just how good the first wave of Windows Phone Mango devices are.