IDC predicts that Android will run on nearly half of all smart phones by 2015, but Windows Mobile will make the biggest gain.
Nearly half of all smart phones will be running the Android operating system in four years, according to a report from IDC released this week. IDC also projected that Windows phones will be the second most common by 2015, with about 21 percent of the market.
The report said the worldwide smart phone market is set to ship more than 450 million units this year. That's an increase of 49.2 percent over last year's sales of 303.4 million smartphones.
The research and analytic company forecasts that devices running Google's Android OS will claim 39.5 percent of the market by the end of 2011 and 45.4 percent by 2015. The report projects that Aplle iOS and BlackBerry will lose a little ground, and the Symbian OS will all but disappear.
"For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smart-phone strategies, 2010 was the coming-out party," said Ramon Llamas, IDC's senior research analyst for the Mobile Devices Technology and Trends group. "This year will see a coronation party as these same vendors broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers, particularly first-time smartphone users."
As for the other OS newcomer to the smartphone field, Windows Phone 7, IDC points to the recent deal struck between Microsoft and Nokia to be a catalyst for strong growth for the smartphone brand and projects that the OS will take the second spot behind Android by 2015.
The assumption that Microsoft, which this year is projected to have 5.5% of the market, will have 20.9 percent of the market share by 2015 has come under fire by critics, including Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley. In a recent blog post on ZDNet, she points out that IDC is assuming all Nokia users will switch from the Symbian OS to Windows Phone 7 devices, which may be too much of a leap of faith.
"I'm sure Microsoft is counting on getting a hefty share boost from its $1 billion-plus investment in Nokia, but will the Softies manage to hold onto almost all the Symbian base, as Nokia tries to wean them from Symbian? I'd think, given some Nokia users' skepticism about the sanity of the deal, more than a few might go Android or iOS," Foley wrote.
She also points out that a lot can happen in IDC's four year projection window, when concerned with consumer devices and new technology. Unknown devices and new companies jumping into the relatively young business will more than likely play a factor in final sales numbers.
ZDNet's Larry Dignan also points out the fact that the Nokia-Microsoft deal probably won't bear fruit for another year. "Let's see, Nokia won't have a barrage of Windows Phone 7 phones in the market until 2012," wrote Dignan in a blog post. "Nokia is essentially taking a year off while other handset makers (Samsung, HTC, RIM, Apple, Motorola) keep pumping out smartphones. Nokia is a no-show in the U.S. and it's possible that folks that leave the handset maker in 2011 may not come back."
Here is the complete breakdown of IDC's projected forecast for 2011 and 2015.
Android, 39.5% (2011), 45.4% (2015)
Symbian, 20.9%, 0.2%
Apple iOS, 15.7%, 15.3%
BlackBerry, 14.9%, 13.7%
Windows Mobile, 5.5%, 20.9%
Other, 5.5%, 4.6%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Tracker
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