Steve Ballmer: word of mouth and marketing are key to Windows Phone 7's success

With the imminent launch of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 it is only natural to see the company’s CEO quizzed about the subject by several newspapers. A few days ago it was the Seattle Times and today is the Wall Street Journal’s turn. The WSJ sat down with Ballmer prior to the Microsoft vs Motorola filling and asked him several questions about the Microsoft’s mobile strategy. Nothing really new comes out of it but similar to what he said in the ST interview, Ballmer doesn’t want to make any sales forecast and expects world of mouth and marketing to play a big role in the WP7′s platform success. Redmond has already done a pretty good job when it comes to developer relations and evangelism in the past few months but now every-body’s waiting to see how the marketing campaign is going to look like and more importently what the OEMs are going to offer this fall. Quotes after the break:

WSJ: Are you trying to protect Windows or do you see Windows Phone 7 as a big revenue opportunity in and of itself?

Mr. Ballmer: No, I see it as a big opportunity. There’s the sale of the device, there’s potential for search revenue on top of that and commerce revenue. There’s potential for subscription revenue from various entertainment or productivity experiences.

Job One here will be selling a lot of phones, and if we sell a lot of phones, good things are going to happen.

WSJ: You’re still charging a license fee for the software.
Mr. Ballmer: Sure.

WSJ: Is that difficult in an environment where Android is free?

Mr. Ballmer: Android has a patent fee. It’s not like Android’s free. You do have to license patents. HTC’s signed a license with us and you’re going to see license fees clearly for Android as well as for Windows.

WSJ: It doesn’t seem like the license fee alone is a big financial opportunity for Microsoft.

Mr. Ballmer: It’s one of the opportunities. One.

[...]

WSJ: The software on Windows Phones looks more different from the other phones than any of the other products that are out there [with a homescreen featuring a grid of colorful tiles, some of which change with fresh content from the Web]. Is it a risk bringing such a different user interface to consumers?

Mr. Ballmer: Well, we’ve got to look forward. The market’s still pretty nascent, but at the end of the day, I think the wall-of-icons [on iPhones and Android devices] is getting pretty complicated for people. That doesn’t mean people don’t want applications, though I’m not sure that’s really the way the average person really wants to work.

Putting the activities that are most important in people’s lives and the people that are most important in people’s lives front-and-center through these hubs, I think we’re going to capture hopefully the imagination of quite a good number of people.

WSJ: Will there be an immediate uptake of Windows Phones?

Mr. Ballmer: I don’t make forecasts. It’s partly how many we can get made, it’s partly how much we can—can not only build a great product, but how does the word of mouth work, how effective is the advertising that we’ll do?

Source: WSJ