Looking at the smartphone market today, it is hard to believe that Microsoft's still-brand-new smartphone platform will become the second largest within four years. But that's exactly the story IDC is selling.
This year, Android will own the market, with 39.5%. Second is Symbian at 20.9%. Third is iOS at 15.7%. Fourth is BlackBerry with 14.9%. Fifth is Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile with 5.5%. "Others" bring up the rear, with about 3.5%. ("Others" most likely consists of HP's webOS, Linux, et al.)
"Android is poised to take over as the leading smartphone operating system in 2011 after racing into the number 2 position in 2010," Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team, said in a statement. "For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smartphone strategies, 2010 was the coming-out party. This year will see a coronation party as these same vendors broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers, particularly first-time smartphone users."
In four year's time, IDC expects a dramatic shift to take place, mainly due to Nokia's plans to ditch Symbian in favor or Microsoft's WP7 platform. By 2015, here's how it expects things to shake out:
1. Android with 45.4%.
2. Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile with 20.9%.
3. iOS with 15.3%.
4. BlackBerry with 13.7%.
5. Symbian with 0.2%.
6. Others with 4.6%.
I love how even the "Others" category has 23 times more users than Symbian, which has been the dominant smartphone platform for the better part of a decade.
The big shift comes from Symbian. It goes from 20.9% this year to 0.2% in 2015. WP7 then rises correspondingly from 5.5% now to 20.9% in 2015. The assumption here (one which I happen to think is being oversimplified) is that Symbian users will happily convert directly to Windows Phone 7 users.
"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," said Llamas. "The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android."
Not so fast.
In the close to six months that WP7 has been available, it has failed to set sales on fire. In fact, Microsoft hasn't provided any metrics on how many WP7 handsets have been sold. Also, the 5.5% market share that Microsoft has now represents both WP7 and the old Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x systems, which are still being sold on enterprise handhelds.
Further, Microsoft has stumbled badly with the first two system updates for its smartphone platform. First by delaying it for nearly two months, and second by bungling the actual delivery of the updates. Things are not going so smoothly for Microsoft. Heck, WP7 champion Joe Belfiore actually wrote a public apology to its WP7 customers about the whole update debacle.
This is the platform IDC thinks is going to own 20.9% of the market in four years?
I say fiddlesticks.