Shipments of smartphones running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system will jump 71 percent over the next four years, outpacing Google Inc.’s Android and Apple Inc.’s iOS, research firm IDC says in a new report.
However, the smartphone market’s growth is slowing with a 1.4 percent increase this year. That would be the slowest in three years with 1.7 billion phones shipped.
Growth will continue, the report adds. IDC forecasts shipments of 2.2 billion by 2016.
“Sluggish economic conditions worldwide have cast a pall over the mobile phone market this year,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement. “However, the fourth quarter will be relatively bright due in part to sales of high-profile smartphones, such as the iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S3, in addition to lower-cost Android-powered smartphones shipped to China and other high-growth emerging markets.”
Windows’ growth will vault it past Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, making it No. 3 in the industry in 2016 with 11.4 percent of the market, Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC said Tuesday in a report.
Android will remain first, though its share will slip to 63.8 percent in 2016 from 68.3 percent this year.
Apple’s iOS, which runs the iPhone, will inch up to 19.1 percent from 18.8 percent, staying in second place.
IDC looked in detail at the various operating systems, noting that it is a “constantly shifting” landscape.
“Android is expected to stay in front, but we also expect it to be the biggest target for competing operating systems to grab market share,” said IDC’s Ramon Llamas, a research manager. “At the same time, Windows Phone stands to gain the most market share as its smartphone and carrier partners have gained valuable experience in selling the differentiated experience Windows Phone has to offer. What bears close observation is how BlackBerry’s new platform, BlackBerry 10, and multiple versions of Linux will affect the market once the devices running these systems are available.”
Snapshots of leading operating systems from IDC:
- “IDC forecasts Android to be the clear leader in the smartphone mobile operating system race, thanks in large part to a broad selection of devices from a wide range of partners. Samsung is the leading Android smartphone seller though resurgent smartphone vendors LG Electronics and Sony, both of which cracked the top five smartphone vendors during 3Q12, are not to be overlooked. IDC believes the net result of this will be continued double-digit growth throughout the forecast period.
- “iOS will maintain its position as the clear number two platform behind Android at the end of 2012 and throughout the forecast. The popularity of the iPhone across multiple markets will drive steady replacements and additional carrier partners will help Apple grow iOS volume. However, the high price point of the iPhone relative to other smartphones will make it cost prohibitive for some users within many emerging markets. In order to maintain current growth rates, Apple will need to examine the possibility of offering less expensive models, similar to its iPod line. Until that happens, IDC forecasts iOS to ship lower volumes than Android.
- “The BlackBerry OS will grow slowly but largely maintain share over the coming years following the BlackBerry 10 launch next year. The new operating system and devices will be valued by some longtime BlackBerry fans, particularly those who have waited for the new OS as Research In Motion delayed its release. This will allow the company to maintain pockets of strength in higher-growth emerging markets such as Indonesia and various Latin American countries. But, as with many other new platforms, the success of BB 10 will be partly dependent upon channel advocacy, like sales associates who can effectively tell the BlackBerry story.
- “Windows Phone will battle with BlackBerry for the number three spot in 2013, but will gain further clarity in the years that follow. Windows Phone will build on the progress it made in 2012, with Nokia establishing its presence and HTC solidly jumping back into the race. Moreover, contributions by Samsung, ZTE, and Huawei will help grow its footprint. With more vendors releasing more devices aimed at multiple segments, sales associates will be better positioned to tell a compelling Windows Phone story and to explain the value of Windows Phone’s differentiated experience compared to market leaders Android and iOS.
- “Linux will trail the market leaders throughout our forecast though it is expected to be the dark horse of the forecast. K-Touch has quietly built its Linux volumes this year while Haier recently released its first Linux smartphones. In addition, multiple platforms are expected to announce and launch their Linux-based smartphones in 2013, including Samsung’s Tizen and Jolla’s SailFish. Benefiting these platforms are their ties to previous platforms from the LiMo Foundation and Nokia’s MeeGo, which could lead to greater developer interest.”
(Bloomberg contributed to this report.)