Microsoft could seize second place in the smartphone operating-system market by 2015, largely on the strength of Nokia's Windows Phone line, according to a new report by IHS. Nokia made something of a splash at last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, largely on the strength of its upcoming Lumia 900 smartphone, which pairs Windows Phone software with higher-end hardware and a sleek design.
"Combined with Nokia's efforts to drive the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem," Wayne Lam, the firm's senior analyst for wireless communications, wrote in a Jan. 19 statement, "the Lumia 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim its No. 2 ranking in smartphone operating system market share by 2015."
While IHS estimates Windows Phone's market share at 2 percent of all smartphones shipped in 2011, it believes that will rise to 16.7 percent within three years-placing Microsoft's smartphone platform slightly ahead of the firm's projections for Apple's iOS but behind those for Google Android. Nokia would be responsible for a lion's share of Windows Phone devices sold, although its share would level off as more manufacturers make increasingly robust plays within the ecosystem.
Although IHS' report praises the Lumia 900's feature set, and Nokia's decision to make aggressive moves in the North American market, it offers relatively little information on exactly how Microsoft and the Finnish phone maker will topple its competition in the space. "[Nokia] likewise is leveraging Microsoft's business/enterprise sales channels to appeal to corporate customers in the region," the report mentions at one point, "offering value-added services in a play for the enterprise sector."
Such moves, it adds, "will position Nokia to compete with Research In Motion Ltd., whose BlackBerry phones are popular among corporate users."
However, that still leaves Nokia and Windows Phone facing down Apple, whose iPhone has proven especially resilient, market-share-wise.
In a bid to conquer the midmarket, Nokia has also issued the Lumia 710, a midmarket Windows Phone. T-Mobile and Best Buy sell the device for the regular $49.99 with two-year contract, while Wal-Mart is giving it away for free. Nokia and Microsoft evidently hope the high-low punch of midmarket and high-end smartphones will let them take a bigger slice of the smartphone-market pie. But can they get to second place?