Commentary
5/12/2011
12:41 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary

Windows Phone Projected Dominance Explained

Pyramid Research's forecast that Microsoft's smartphone will lead the market by 2015 has raised questions; now there are answers.



When people think of smartphones today, two platforms come to mind--iOS, which powers the iPhone, and Android. Windows Phone has been out less than nine months and its share is under 10% globally. Some of that share is comprised of the older Windows Mobile 6.x platform still being sold in some markets. To think the platform will go from fifth place behind iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Symbian to first place in just four years, as analysts have forecasted, is a stunning statement.

As I stated earlier this week when the projection by Pyramid Research was released, projecting the smartphone market four years out is tricky at best. CNet has the details, including a chart, on the reasoning behind Pyramid Research's report.

The first thing you notice is Windows Phone's share explodes in 2011 and 2012. It goes from the 10% range to nearly 30% by 2012. We'll know in less than 12 months whether this report is even close to accurate.

Obviously the driving factor behind the numbers is the partnership with Nokia. I've said many times I don't really consider Symbian a smartphone in the same sense as the other platforms are. There isn't a consumer enthusiasm for it like iOS or Android, nor does it have an application store or developer community like other major smartphone platforms. However, it had nearly 40% of the global market just two years ago and still has well above 20%. Nokia sells a lot of phones, mostly on the hardware, but that drives platform market share.

Pyramid Research, and Microsoft for that matter, is counting on Nokia's ability to drive Windows Phone share. Success is by no means guaranteed of course, but the partnership dramatically raises the prospects for the mobile platform. Nokia's high volume should drive prices down. Many people have Nokia devices because it is a phone they get free with a two-year contract. Free lower-end Windows Phone-powered Nokias will certainly help.

Again, four years is a long way out for such a dynamic market, but this isn't some pie in the sky projection. The report has specific share numbers for each of the five platforms between now and 2015, making it easy to validate the report against reality and seeing whether it is of any value or just another useless forecast.

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