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Windows Phone To Be Second By 2015

Gartner has joined IDC in predicting that Microsoft's mobile platform will take over the number two spot in 2015, just behind Google's Android.
In late March, IDC released a report stating that Windows Phone would command 20% of the smartphone market. Gartner has just issued a press release that agrees with IDC's prognostication.

Android will control nearly half of the worldwide smartphone market by 2015. The overall market is projected to be 1.1 billion units by then. That compared to an expected 467 million units in 2011. Android had 22.7% share in 2010 and should be in the 38% range by year's end. While share growth will slow, unit growth will continue to soar as the overall market doubles in the next four years.

Symbian will almost completely vanish by then. In 2010, it held 37.6% share but will dwindle to less than a tenth of a percent as Nokia moves to Windows Phone.

While RIM's Blackberry platform will show unit growth as the market grows, it will lose share each year, shrinking from 16% in 2010 to a projected 11.1% in 2015. Blackberry devices garnered a healthy consumer following in the mid-2000s but -- as platforms like iOS and Android were released -- RIM retreated to its corporate roots where it is still very popular. There just isn't nearly as much growth in the corporate market as there is in the consumer market. Of course, this could change when RIM switches to QNX for its phones if they can find the right mix of features that please IT administrators and still appeal to consumers more interested in playing Angry Birds than messing with push email.

Microsoft is the big winner in all of this. In 2010, Microsoft's share was a meager 4.2%. Windows Mobile 6.5 was a stopgap measure and wasn't successful at all. Windows Phone 7 launched with many carriers in the fourth quarter of 2010 but still wasn't available everywhere. Today you still cannot buy one on Verizon though that should change soon.

The pivotal point was when Nokia decided to drop Symbian and Meego for Windows Phone. That isn't the sole reason for Windows Phone's growth, but it is the biggest.

What about webOS? Gartner lumped it in the "Other" category, which never breaks the 4% barrier.

That will narrow the field considerably. Four platforms, Android, Windows Phone, iOS and Blackberry, will survive while others die or are marginalized.

It will be interesting to pull this release out in four years and see how close it was. After all, no one in their right mind four years ago would have said Microsoft and Palm would fall to the depths they are today and unlaunched platforms like iOS and Android would be explosive hits.