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Windows Phone 7 Will Flounder, Gartner Predicts

Microsoft's new mobile OS will only provide a slight, temporary boost to the company's meager mobile OS market share, according to research firm.

Microsoft's introduction of Windows Phone 7, set to be formally introduced next week, will barely move the needle on the company's dismal share of the smartphone OS market, according to new data released Wednesday by industry analysts at Gartner.

Microsoft's Windows 7 Revealed
(click image for larger view)
Microsoft's Windows 7 Phone Revealed

Gartner predicts the release of Windows Phone 7 will help bump Microsoft's share of the worldwide market from 4.7% in 2010 to 5.2% in 2011, but says the company's share will ultimately decline to just 3.9% by 2014.

By then, Microsoft will badly trail virtually every other major mobile OS developer, according to Gartner. The firm predicts the Symbian OS will continue to lead the market in 2014, with a 30.2% stake, just barely ahead of Google's Android. Gartner sees Android's share ballooning to 29.6% by 2014, up from 17.7% in 2010 and just 3.9% in 2009.

Android in August became, for the first time, the most popular mobile OS in the U.S., according to data released Tuesday by Nielsen. Nielsen says Android, with a 32% U.S. share, surpassed previous frontrunner Apple, who's iOS operating system commanded a 25% stake.

The fact that Google's Android has blown by Windows phones in just a year, and is expected to considerably widen its lead, must be particularly galling to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Microsoft's board cut Ballmer's bonus for the last fiscal year in half, largely because of his failure to establish a stronger position in the increasingly important mobile space.

Microsoft was forced to pull its KIN line of feature phones from the market earlier this year amid dismal sales.

Ballmer is still confident he can turn things around with Windows Phone 7. He said Google's success is proof that things can change very quickly in the smartphone market—a fact he claimed works in Microsoft's favor. "The fact that things have been pretty dynamic means that they're probably still pretty dynamic," Ballmer said in an interview published Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.

Windows Phone 7 handset makers include LG, Samsung, and Toshiba. Devices from those manufacturers are expected to go on sale to the general public in time for the 2010 holiday season.

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