Microsoft was late to the smartphone party, and their Windows Phone 7 offering has seen some less than stellar success, even in the context of its late entrance into an already mature market.
Last week, the research firm IDC issued a report covering worldwide smartphone marketshare data for 2011. The report found that in 2011, Android’s share of the smartphone market came in at 39.5% followed by Symbian at 20.9% and Apple’s iOS platform at 15.7%.
Somewhat bizarrely, IDC anticipates that Microsoft’s share of worldwide smartphones will surpass Apple by 2015. Specifically, the report anticipates Microsoft’s share to come in at 20.9% with Apple actually losing marketshare at 15.3%. At the root of this prediction is IDC’s optimism that the company’s recent deal with Nokia will propel them past Apple in just a few years time.
Nokia’s recent announcement to shift from Symbian to Windows Phone will have significant implications for the smartphone market going forward. “Up until the launch of Windows Phone 7 last year, Microsoft has steadily lost market share while other operating systems have brought forth new and appealing experiences,” added Llamas. “The new alliance brings together Nokia’s hardware capabilities and Windows Phone’s differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android.”
The vaccum soon to be left by Symbian certainly leaves a wide opening for Microsoft to swoop in and claim some new users, especially among those who are particularly loyal to Nokia hardware. But with current Windows Phone 7 devices not flying off the shelves and the problems associated with Windows Phone 7 updates, it’s hard to see Microsoft’s mobile platform catching up to Apple’s anytime soon – especially now that the iPhone is on Verizon. Moreover, note the current 5.5% Windows share cited above includes antiquated devices running Windows Mobile 5.x and Windows Mobile 6.x.
Microsoft certainly has the marketing muscle and dollars to throw behind WP7, but Apple has had more than a 3 year head start and with Steve Jobs now at the helm, you can bet Apple will effectively maintain that lead in a way that the Apple of the late 80’s and early 90’s was unable to do.
Besides, we have to acknowledge that making smartphone predictions 4 years out is a little bit absurd. Four years ago the iPhone was nothing more than a Steve Jobs keynote. Now we’re pushing ahead to the iPhone 5, RIM has stumbled off its smartphone mountain, and Google came out of nowhere with its Android OS. The next four years is really anybody’s guess.