Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 will surpass Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iOS to become the second-ranked smartphone operating system in the world by 2015, according to a new report from research firm IDC.
Much of that gain will come courtesy of Microsoft's recent partnership with Nokia, which will see Windows Phone 7 ported onto the latter's devices. "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," Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC, wrote in the March 29 report. "The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform."
By 2015, he continued, "IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android."
To wit, the IDC note then suggests that Android's share of the worldwide smartphone operating-system market come 2015 will be 45.4 percent, followed by Windows Phone with 20.9 percent, Apple's iOS with 15.3 percent, RIM's BlackBerry with 13.7 percent, and Symbian with 0.2 percent. Undefined "others"-which includes, presumably, Hewlett-Packard's webOS operating system - will take the last 4.6 percent.
Should that come to pass, it would represent a substantial reversal from Microsoft's current fortunes in the mobile space. According to a recent comScore report, Microsoft's share of the U.S. smartphone market dipped 1.7 percent between October 2010 and January 2011, from 9.7 percent to 8.0 percent. That trailed Google, which ended January with 31.2 percent of the market, Research In Motion with 30.4 percent and Apple with 24.7 percent.
Microsoft confirmed at the end of January that some 2 million Windows Phone 7 units had been sold by manufacturers to retailers, but the exact number reaching consumers' hands remains unclear. "Our numbers are similar to the performance of other first-generation mobile platforms," Achim Berg, Microsoft's vice president of business and marketing for Windows Phones, mentioned in a Q&A posted Dec. 21 on the company's corporate Website. "It takes time to educate partners and consumers on what you're delivering, and drive awareness and interest in your new offering. We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run."
Microsoft also claims its Windows Phone 7 ecosystem has grown to 9,000 applications, with a base of 32,000 developers. But the company has encountered speed-bumps related to software updates for the platform, which in turn has sparked anger among some early adopters.
Nokia's ownership of the U.S. smartphone market is negligible, but IDC says its Symbian operating system powers some 20.9 percent of smartphones worldwide. If the switchover to Windows Phone 7 occurs with relatively little attrition, then Microsoft has a substantial base from which to move forward with its smartphone plans. However, given the aggressiveness in the overall smartphone space, that remains a very big "if." And the industry can trust that both Apple and RIM will do everything in their power to ensure that IDC's prediction never comes to pass.