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Windows Phone Second to Android by 2015

The Android mobile operating system will hold the No. 1 smartphone OS market position over the next four years, but Microsoft's mobile OS will climb to second place by 2015, according to a report announced on Thursday by Gartner.

Last year, Android was second in prevalence to Nokia's Symbian mobile OS, according to Gartner's stats. However, Nokia plans to let Symbian lie fallow as it pursues a deal to put Microsoft's Windows Phone mobile OS on Nokia devices. Gartner expects to see Symbian use fall from 19.2 percent in 2011 to near zero use by 2015.

Meanwhile, Android use will climb to a 48.8 percent market share in 2015, followed by Microsoft's mobile OSes at 19.5 percent, Apple's iOS at 17.2 percent and Research In Motion's mobile OSes at 11.1 percent.

Apple's iOS will hold its second-place position through 2014, but it will slip to third place in 2015, after Microsoft's OS, largely because of Apple's pricing strategy. Gartner expects Apple to take an approach of "maintaining margins rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy" over the next few years, according to the analyst firm's press release.

Gartner's positioning of Microsoft's mobile OSes in the No. 2 smartphone market position by 2015 hinges "solely by virtue of Microsoft's alliance with Nokia," according to a Gartner's announcement. However, it's not clear if Nokia's current smartphone users will stay with Nokia when the Windows Phone OS starts shipping on Nokia devices. In addition, financial analysts remain wary following the Microsoft deal, with Moody's downgrading Nokia's credit rating after Standards & Poor's did the same, the Financial Times recently reported.

Smartphone sales will move 468 million units this year worldwide, representing a 57.7 increase from the 2010 sales figure, according to Gartner's report, "Forecast: Mobile Communications Devices by Open Operating System, Worldwide, 2008-2015." Use of open OSes in mobile devices will represent 26 percent of all handset sales this year, growing to 47 percent by 2015.

Gartner defines an "open OS" as one that has software developer kits and application programming interfaces available for developers. Mobile OSes that meet this definition include "BlackBerry OS, iOS, Symbian, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, Limo Foundation, WebOS and bada," according to Gartner.

The majority (67 percent) of mobile devices with open OSes will have an average selling price of $300 or less by 2015, according to Gartner.

Gartner's report, projecting a boost in Microsoft's mobile OS prospects, echoes a similar prediction announced by analyst firm IDC in March. Gartner's predictions are shown in the table below.

Mobile OS

2011 Market
Share (%)

2015 Market
Share (%)

Android

38.5

48.8

Microsoft

5.6

19.5

Apple iOS

19.4

17.2

RIM BlackBerry

13.4

11.1

Nokia Symbian

19.2

0.1

Other

3.9

3.3

Source: Gartner's "Forecast: Mobile Communications Devices by Open Operating System, Worldwide, 2008-2015."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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