by Shane O'Neill

Windows Phone Lone Standout in a Flat Smartphone Market Through 2016

Dec 04, 20123 mins
Computers and PeripheralsMobileSmall and Medium Business

Research firm IDC predicts that the smartphone market will stay relatively the same over the next four years, with the exception of Windows Phone, which will more than quadruple its market share.

A new forecast by IDC shows surprisingly small growth in the mobile phone market for 2012 despite a record number of smartphone shipments expected for the holiday season.

The worldwide market is forecast to grow 1.4 percent year over year, the lowest annual growth rate since 2009.  Yet that number includes the entire mobile phone market – both smartphones and plan old feature phones – and there are a high number of people holding on to non-smart feature phones.

The real growth is apparent when breaking out just the smartphone category. For 2012, IDC forecasts smartphone shipments to grow 45.1 percent to 717.5 million units. The reasons for the smartphone boost, according to IDC, include “steep device subsidies from carriers, especially in mature economic markets where carriers resell the majority of smartphones, as well as a growing array of sub-$250 smartphones in emerging markets.”

Chart: Worldwide Smartphone Market Forecast by OS, Unit Shipments, 3Q 2012Description: IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker provides smart phone and feature phone market data in 54 countries by vendor, device type, air interface, operating systems and platforms, and generation. Over 20 additional technical segmentations are provided. The data is provided four times a year and includes historical and forecast trend analysis. For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 1-650-350-6423 or detail about this tracker can be found at: Android, BlackBerry, RIM, Apple, iOS, Windows Phone, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Smartphone, Mobile Phone, 3Q, 2012, Q3, Third Quarter, Worldwide, Market share, Market Size, Forecast, IDC, TrackerAuthor: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

Android will remain the global market share leader for the next four years thanks to a broad selection of devices from a wide range of partners, with Samsung leading the way. The OS will still be sitting pretty with 63 percent market share in 2016, according to IDC. But overall, Android, iOS and BlackBerry will only make modest market share gains between now and 2016.

The only OS to make a significant dent in the smartphone universe will be the struggling Windows Phone. According to IDC, Windows Phone global market share will jump from  a lowly 2.6 percent to 11.4 percent in 2016. That’s a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 71.3 percent.

IDC predicts that Windows Phone will build on the progress it made in 2012 and that Nokia and HTC will lead the way for Windows Phone purchases.

“With more vendors releasing more devices aimed at multiple segments, sales associates will be better positioned to tell a compelling Windows Phone story and to explain the value of Windows Phone’s differentiated experience compared to market leaders Android and iOS,” according to the IDC release.

Research firm forecasts like these are certainly not scripture, but Microsoft’s persistence, advertising budget and partner and carrier relationships are just too strong to toil in the market share gutter for much longer. Something’s got to give.

In the name of competition, fairness and lower prices, we should all be rooting for Windows Phone to grow. At the very least, it will keep Android and iOS honest.