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Microsoft's claim of outselling the iPhone isn't as impressive as it sounds

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When Microsoft’s Frank X Shaw announced on Tuesday that more Windows Phone handsets than iPhones were shipping in seven markets, the question on the minds of market watchers was, "OK, which seven?" The answer, courtesy of The New York Times Bits Blog, is Argentina, India, Poland, Russia, South Africa, and Ukraine — along with a smaller group of countries (including Croatia) that falls under the banner of "rest of central and eastern Europe." The numbers come from market research firm IDC, a representative of which further deflated Shaw’s claims by pointing out that three of the markets (Ukraine, South Africa, and "rest of") amounted to less than 100,000 units apiece in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The list isn’t exactly surprising. Windows Phone has struggled to gain a foothold in North America, where Nokia only shipped 700,000 units in Q4 despite a massive marketing push from Nokia and AT&T. In contrast, the IDC representative pointed out that Windows Phone has succeeded in countries that Nokia traditionally does well in, many of which have low demand for the iPhone because of its higher cost and the lack of carrier subsidies.