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Tuesday, December 07, 2010, 05:15 pm PT (08:15 pm ET)

Microsoft: Windows Phone 7 may take 2 years to catch up to Apple, Google

Microsoft VP Joe Belfiore declined to talk numbers Tuesday during his onstage interview at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference, but he did admit that the Windows Phone 7 platform might take as long as 2 years to catch up to Apple's iPhone and Google's Android.

Belfiore, who is Microsoft's director of Windows Phone Program Management, evaded direct questions regarding Windows Phone 7 sales, as Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal pressed him to reveal a hard sales number, Engadget reports.

When Mossberg asked Belfiore how Windows Phone 7 is doing, Belfiore replied, "So far, so good. We've tried to make the launch go well. We wanted to get all the devices in the market, we didn't make that happen, but now we have 10 products around the world. We've ramped our ads up."

Unsatisfied with the vagueness of the response, Mossberg asked how many devices Windows had sold. Belfiore answered, "We're not talking numbers." Mossberg hinted that not mentioning numbers suggests poor sales, but Belfiore dismissed the suggestion, claiming it's just "too soon" to discuss numbers.

Throughout the interview, Mossberg continued to press Belfiore on Microsoft's latest mobile operating system. "How is this device different?" Mossberg asked Belfiore. When Belfiore referenced the dedicated camera button, Mossberg replied, "Other people have camera buttons."

"How soon until you get back into the market, before you're back to profitability, back to a good marketshare, up there with Android and Apple?" Mossberg asked. Belfiore admitted he didn't know. When Mossberg suggested a couple of years, Belfiore answered, "Maybe."

The Redmond, Wash., software giant unveiled the first 9 WP7 handsets in October, with devices from Dell, HTC, LG and Samsung.

Windows Phone 7 failed to make much of a splash when it launched in the U.S. in early November. Though a few stores attracted lines on launch day, reports suggested that only "a small handful" made purchase, with most of the customers interested in just the free concert tickets that were being given away for the launch.

Reports detailing informal checks with retailers suggest that initial sales Windows Phone 7 have been lackluster. Some estimates place the total number of units sold in the tens of thousands.

Initial reviews of the platform were mixed. Most reviewers were impressed with Microsoft's new user interface, but found it lacking when compared to iOS and Android.

A lack of interest in Windows Phone 7 has some developers thinking twice about the WP7 platform. Microsoft has reportedly blocked developers from seeing sales figures for their apps, withholding payments to app developers until February 2011.

In a blog post, developer Justin James suggested that developers should consider Windows Phone 7 a "hobby or a learning experience rather than a source of revenue until the App Hub issues are sorted out."