Still, the Microsoft CEO says sales could start off soft.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft (:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer says new smartphones running on Windows Phone 8 may have slow sales at the start but should "ramp quickly."
The newly upgraded smartphone operating system was introduced less than two weeks ago, and the first handsets running the software are expected to begin hitting U.S. retailers' shelves in the new few days. Nokia (:NOK), HTC and Samsung will be among the first to release new WP8 handsets.
According to the Reuters dispatch, Ballmer made the prediction at the Windows Phone launch in Israel, the first country outside of the United States to announce the new system.
He admitted that compared to Apple's (:AAPL) iPhones and all the handsets that run on Google's (:GOOG) Android OS, Windows Phone 8 is "relatively small" but he expects "the volumes on Windows Phone to ramp quickly."
Shipments of Android phones nearly doubled in the third quarter of this year, boosting Android's worldwide smartphone market share to more than 57%. Apple iPhone market share climbed to 14.9%. Apple's fourth-quarter numbers should reflect higher sales based on the release of the new iPhone 5.
Ballmer said his company is setting company records for advertising spending on the new Windows 8 operating system, its new Surface tablets as well as Windows Phone 8 products. He's hoping that the company's success in selling 4 million copies of Windows 8 upgrades in its first weekend will give Windows Phone sales a big boost.
--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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