Eighteen million copies of any operation system would be considered a success but not for Microsoft who had planned on selling twnety million copies for the year.
According to In-Stat analyst, Bill Hughes, it could stem from the impact of the iPhone 3G as reported by Electronista. However this does not seem to be an issue for Nokia or Blackberry as far as the market is concerned. Nor has Palm's Centro suffered at the hands of the iPhone.
It is well known that Windows Mobile's position in the market was an aggressive campaign by Redmond very much the same way Windows dominated the desktop and leveraging the Windows brand. However, the mobile realm has many more players that offered more innovation than a port of Windows UI concepts onto a phone.
Microsoft has attributed the shortfall on some phone makers pushing back introduction of new mobile devices. Whatever the reasons are, it is likely Microsoft will need to go after the real threats in the market, itself and Blackberry. The sale of the original iPhone may have an impact on Windows Me device sales but so far Blackberry has not felt the kind or erosion Microsoft is feeling.
The next version of Windows Mobile will be released next year. Microsoft has stated it will have a more integrated service for the mobile OS and the devices, particular to integrated an app store much like iTunes app store. But so is Android, Symbian, and others. It will have to cut out the spin which hides the "me too" features of other OS and really start to innovate.
The market is big enough for a number of players but Microsoft has the most to lose if it does not truly to compete with new innovations and showing a true mobile vision. Stop talking about the iPhone and start talking about solutions.
Impact: Microsoft may have learned some lessons from the music player war that has largely been won by Apple. With two years of Zune behind it, I'm predicting a Microsoft-branded smartphone that allows it greater control over features, online offerings, and user experience.