By Aldo Panessidi
A new report suggests that the popularity of Google’s Android OS is due to peak in 2012. The market will begin a major shift towards a strong Microsoft Windows platform.
The market research firm IDC just released the details of its latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report. The firm predicts that, while cell phone shipments will reach 1.8 billion units this year (compared to 1.7 billion in 2011), the numbers reflect stalled growth when compared to previous years. The major cause seems to be the beginning of a rapid decline in sales for feature phones. The IDC forecasts the lowest annual growth rate in their sales since 2009.
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IDC analyst Kevin Restivo was quoted as saying, “The smartphone parade won’t be as lively this year as it has been in past. The mobile phone user-transition from feature phones to smartphones will continue in a gradual but unabated fashion. Smartphone growth, however, will increasingly be driven by a triumvirate of smartphone operating systems, namely Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7.”
The smartphone market is expected to continue growing over the next five years, but IDC sees 2012 as the start of a major shift. Android has a big lead in the number of devices sporting its popular OS – predicted to be a 61% share by year-end. Apple’s iOS takes second place with 20.5%, one-third the size of Google’s market. The upstart Microsoft Windows/Windows Mobile will probably end 2012 with a 5.2% share of the market, less than one-tenth the size of Android. By 2016, the IDC says the numbers will look significantly different.
They predict that smartphone shipments will continue to grow through 2016, but this timeframe will see a big decline in Android OS use. It will probably peak in 2012 and then begin to lose significant market share to the Windows Phone platform. Apple’s iOS will probably see some decline as well.
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Here are the IDC’s predictions. Between 2012 and 2016, Android’s share of the global market will decline more than 7% - from 61% to 52.9%. Apple’s iOS will become slightly less popular, going from 20.5% to 19%. Microsoft will be the big winner, with a quadrupling of its market share from 2012’s measly 5.2% to 19.2% in 2016. This obviously surpasses iOS as the No.2 smartphone platform in the world, not to mention ought to cause Google execs some sleepless nights.
“Underpinning the smartphone market is the constantly shifting OS landscape,” IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said. “Android will maintain leadership throughout our forecast, while others will gain more mobile operator partnerships (Apple) or currently find themselves in the midst of a major transition (BlackBerry and Windows Phone/Windows Mobile). What remains to be seen is how these different operating systems – as well as others – will define and shape the user experience beyond what we see today in order to attract new customers and encourage replacements.”
IDC expects RIM’s smartphone market share to stay relatively flat for the next few years. It will probably hold steady at around 6%. Other smartphone platforms can only expect a mere 3% of the market by 2016, down from 7.2% in 2012. Samsung’s Tizen platform makes up the majority of that 3%. Sorry Samsung. Maybe you should concentrate on Galaxy S IV and beyond.