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1/22/2012
11:12 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Windows Phone Predicted To Overtake iOS By 2015

Nokia partnership will launch Microsoft's platform to second place in global smartphone market share, iSuppli forecasts.

Windows Phone is currently a distant fourth in what looks like a four-horse race for smartphone platforms. Android has nearly half of the global market. The iPhone's iOS platform is at around 18% share. All other platforms together, including BlackBerry, Bada, and the remnants of webOS, make up about a third of the market, and Windows Phone is barely a blip on the radar. Not for the first time, research indicates that by 2015 Microsoft will move from being a young startup in the smartphone world to second place. Nokia gets much of the credit for this.

In April 2011, IDC made a similar prediction. This time, the analysts are from iSuppli. It predicts that iOS will fall slightly from 18% today to 16% in 2015. This will allow Windows Phone to move up to be equal--or just ahead--of iOS. The "other" category, though, will dive from 33% today to less than 9%.

For platforms that are essentially dead, like Symbian and webOS, this is no big deal. The problem is, BlackBerry is in this category. That doesn't bode well for RIM at all. It has already been suggested that RIM give up on BlackBerry altogether and move to Android or Windows Phone, and iSuppli's forecast suggests sticking with its own platform makes little sense over the long term.

It makes you wonder whether Windows Phone could have made it on its own, without the Nokia partnership. Devices like the Lumia 710, 800, and 900 have all garnered good reviews, each with its own price point. Nokia also has great relationships with most international carriers and has committed to giving its relationships with North American carriers a boost.

While the announcement last year by Nokia to abandon its Symbian and Meego platforms and adopt Windows Phone was surprising to many, in hindsight the phone manufacturer had no choice. The former platform was dead already and the latter was a huge unknown with no ecosystem at all. Nokia could have gone with Android, of course, but its deal with Microsoft includes more than just a license. Marketing dollars, more input into how the OS evolves, and Nokia's name on Bing mobile mapping sites are just a few goodies that never would have come from adopting Android.

There has been a lot of hype about Windows Phone in recent weeks, and expect more out of Mobile World Congress in late February. There is little doubt its share will increase, but whether or not it rises to second place, well, I think it is too early to tell. Apple won't sit still for the next three years.

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LJONES913
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LJONES913,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/23/2012 | 7:49:51 PM
re: Windows Phone Predicted To Overtake iOS By 2015
With this kind of announcement, orchestrated behind the scenes by Microsoft and Nokia, Microsoft states their intention to achieve this. What is not clear from your journalistic coverage, however, is that these are their hopes for unit volume rather than consumer dollars and certainly not for profitability. Nokia is the old-style feature phone provider to the third world, and is predicting that by replacing their present product line with products containing WP7 that they can stop their rapid downward trend in the market and hold their sales volume flat.

Of course, their WP7 phones are now being sold free with a new contract at many outlets. This doesn't give much promise for Nokia capturing much market share in dollars.

The fact of the matter is, of course, that WP7 phones will have to produce buyer satisfaction that is the equivalent of iPhone if they are to be sold at equivalent prices, and there seems little hope of that occurring any time soon. This makes it abundantly clear that the prices for Nokia WP7 phones must stay very low for the forseeable future. Thus even if unit volumes meet these rosy projections, Nokia's slide in profitability will continue. That means little money for R&D, and little opportunity for product improvement year to year.

So, even these rosy projections nonetheless presage the imminent collapse of Nokia as a supplier and with it the end of WP7.

Also not clear is that the projections assume that the iPhone 4S and future Apple phones will lose the market advantage they have been demonstrating since the iPhone 4S was introduced. The 4S sales do not represent merely a blip driven by a new product. This is a phone with unique new features that neither Microsoft nor Nokia have announced they will be competitive against. Gone are the days of antennagate holding down the sales of the iPhone 4.

Android sales are feeling the bite from the new iPhone models, low priced iPhone models are making a move to take over the market share that Nokia previously held, and WP7 has no defense against these realities. No one would seriously consider buying a $49 (or even contract for a free, I believe) Lumia 710 when the iPhone 4 is priced at $49. No one will consider the Lumia 900 to be the equivalent of an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5. No amount of Microsoft dollars will save Nokia now. Nokia's last hope was to try to compete against Samsung and others manufacturing Android phones, but any effort in that direction now is simply too little, too late.
AppleWatcher
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AppleWatcher,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/23/2012 | 6:33:42 PM
re: Windows Phone Predicted To Overtake iOS By 2015
This will be fun to watch. Of course, to get there, MS Phone will have to stop losing marketshare, which it was continuing to do last time I heard. Things that Apple has that will serve as a hedge against this happening:
Siri
The App Store
The iPad. Right now this looks like an insurmountable lead in the tablet space
A multi-year head start
More apps
Established entrants in Media Player, Phone, Tablet, and laptop and desktop
UI coherence across the above.
A track record of no viruses and hacks on their phone
A fairly predictable upgrade cycle (usually annual)
A fairly predictable cost structure $199, Last year's model $99, two year old model free with plan.
iCloud/iTunes Match
$90 billion in the bank
An amazing 3rd party eco-system around the docking connector

Conventional wisdom is don't bet against Microsoft. I think in this case the market has changed, so I'd take that bet.
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