Android will garner 45 percent market share over the next five years, IDC and ABI agree. But IDC believes Windows Phone 7, not Apple iOS or RIM's BlackBerry, will grab No. 2.
Few disagree that Google's Android operating system is becoming the
Microsoft Windows of the mobile operating system world.
Analysts from both IDC and ABI
Research estimate Android, which lives on more than 100 phones and just hit 33 percent U.S. market share
, will top 45 percent share
over the next five years. It's the No. 2 and No. 3 operating system positions
that require some steely, long-haul prognostication.
Apple's iOS will follow Android's plot to take 19 percent
share by 2016, with Research In Motion's BlackBerry in third with 14 percent.
Samsung's Bada will garner 10 percent share, while Windows Phone 7 (WP7) will
round out the top 5 at 7 percent.
IDC took some flak last week for suggesting
that by 2015, WP7 will assume Nokia Symbian's No. 2
position on the mobile platform food chain by 2015. iOS will garner the third
spot at 15 percent, with BlackBerry not far behind in fourth at 14 percent, IDC
A quick perusal of the current Windows Phone 7 news cycle will shed light on
details ugly enough to doubt the IDC report.
Sources say carriers AT&T and T-Mobile have sold only a few million WP7
phones, while Microsoft continues to stumble in upgrading them. Some analysts
see trouble on the horizon for the young platform.
Not IDC analyst Kevin Restivo, who told
eWEEK there are a number of factors that will enable WP7 to sit under Android
in the mobile food chain later this decade.
Start with Microsoft's pact with Nokia
in which the hardware maker will
build Windows Phones for the next several years. Restivo believes WP7 will
assume Symbian's place in the market outside the United
States. That is, very successful.
"You have to look at the geographic strength of Symbian and Nokia.
You're looking at many high-growth countries as far as smartphone volume goes
in the future," Restivo said. "These are countries where Nokia has
very strong brand presence, including Western Europe and
Asia. This provides a springboard for [Windows Phone
Restivo also said the WP7 application ecosystem is rich in the early going, topping 10,000 applications
in its first four months of
Industry analyst Jack Gold is skeptical of WP7's potential given all the
turmoil and transitions that need to take place in the next four years to make
this happen, and the fact both Nokia and Microsoft need to execute flawlessly-something
they have not been known for in the past.
"The question is, can the sheer weight of Nokia drive that much market
share for WP7, given that Symbian smartphones will likely be around for at
least two more years?" Gold wondered.
"I'm skeptical the WP7 share can grow that quickly, and I believe Nokia
may be in for some difficult times [in smartphones]. It also depends on how
fast the WP7 ecosystem can grow, and right now I think it will take some time
for the ecosystem to mature-probably one to two more years anyway."
Gold also isn't sure we can assume current Symbian smartphone owners will
just jump on the WP7 bandwagon, with Android, iOS and BlackBerry offering solid
alternatives. "It's not clear the Nokia smartphone brand loyalty will win
Yet industry analyst Rob Enderle sees merit in Restivo's research and agrees
the differences between high-end and low-end smartphone pricing will impact
market share. He believes Apple will lock up the premium smartphone market,
with Android and WP7 fighting it out in the low end.
"Apple will lock in the premium side and hold margins but likely lose
out on volume as a result, suggesting that [IDC's]
positioning of Android and Microsoft/Nokia at the top is well
Restivo believes iOS is limited largely to developed countries because
it's a high-end feature phone. In China,
the iPhone is priced at about $1,000 U.S.
Like Android, WP7 will include low-cost smartphones all over the world.