WINDOWS PHONE 7 (WP7) is set to outgrow the rival mobile operating systems over the next few years, according to a report released by the International Data Corporation (IDC).
Microsoft's late-comer smartphone OS is expected to grow its market share from two per cent in 2010 to 3.8 per cent this year, a downward revision of IDC's previous forecast in March of 5.5 per cent.
That's a relatively tiny share of the market, particularly for an OS that many people would consider a potential third rival to join in the battle between Google's Android and Apple's IOS, but the real strength of Windows Phone 7 will appear during 2012 to 2015, the report predicts, when IDC expects to see WP7 market share increase significantly to 20.3 per cent.
This is also a slight revision downwards from the 20.9 per cent IDC had previously predicted, but it still equates to a compound annual growth rate of 82.3 per cent, the fastest growth by far of all the mobile operating systems on the market.
This will put Windows Phone 7 in second place behind Android, which is expected to see its market share rise from 38.9 per cent this year to 43.8 per cent in 2015, a compound annual growth rate of 23.7 per cent.
Apple's IOS is set to lose some of its market share to Google and Microsoft, dropping from 18.2 per cent in 2011 to 16.9 per cent in 2015, ensuring that Windows Phone 7 will have a comfortable lead. The Research In Motion (RIM) Blackberry OS will also see a small drop from 14.2 per cent to 13.4 per cent over the next few years, according to the IDC forecast.
The biggest loser, however, will be Symbian. IDC expects its market share of 20.6 per cent this year to plummet to just 0.1 per cent by 2015. This is not exactly unexpected, given the recent deal between Nokia and Microsoft, but we won't really see the impact from the switchover from Sybmian to Windows Phone 7 until 2012.
What is interesting to note is that Symbian's losses won't all transfer over to gains for Windows Phone 7. If we add Symbian's existing market share to that of Windows Phone 7 we get a unified share of 24.4 per cent. Yet Microsoft will get only 20.3 per cent of the market in 2015, which, even with Symbian's remaining at 0.1 per cent, leaves four per cent unaccounted for. It seems that Android will gobble this up in its continuing expansion.
IDC anticipates that the overall smartphone market will grow by 55 per cent this year, with global shipments of 472 million devices, up from the 305 million shipped in 2010. This will rise even further by 2015, nearly doubling to 982 million units, which shows there's plenty more room for growth in the smartphone arena. µ