2012 is the year that will see highest number of mobile handsets sell in mobile history. IDC released its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report on Wednesday in which it provided the current market share values for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and other smartphone operating systems.
According to the numbers, mobile vendors will ship a total of nearly 1.8 billion mobile phones this year, compared to 1.7 billion in 2011. IDC forecasts, the number will reach a whopping 2.3 billion by 2016.
But although the figure is promising, there has been a slowdown in growth this year with just a 4 percent rise compared to 2011 – the smallest percentage increase since 2009.
IDC points to the economic crisis as the major cause of the break. The increase in mobile phone sales was to a great extent a substitution effect – users were going in droves to the smartphone, retiring their old terminals that only served to call and send messages.
“The smartphone parade won’t be as lively this year as it has been in past,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “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.”
Android will Rule the Market
As for OS platforms, 2012 will be the best year for Android. Six out of ten mobile phones will run Google’s operating system. Android is expected to capture 61 percent of the smartphone market in 2012, while Apple’s iOS will keep 20 percent of the market, followed by BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
“Underpinning the smartphone market is the constantly shifting OS landscape,” added Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. “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.”
A major chunk of Android’s success will be driven by Samsung’s smartphone sales. More devices and players including that of Motorola, HTC, and LG and others will continue to adopt Google’s mobile OS.
Microsoft to Overtake Apple by 2016
The research firm projects that Android and iOS will continue to peak in popularity until 2016, when Windows phone will begin to eat market share of both the leading operating systems, so much that it will surpass iOS by 2016.
IDC added Nokia, the major Windows Phone mobile maker, will see strong growth in emerging market.
“[Apple’s] iOS will continue its impressive run, thanks to strong iPhone 4S momentum in North America, Western Europe and Asia/Pacific, specifically China, this year,” IDC said in its report. “Growth will moderate over the five-year forecast given the large installed base Apple has accumulated, which means more of its addressable market will be on replacement cycles. Emerging market growth is of utmost importance if iOS is to gain share.”
The market share of the iPhone will drop from 20.5 percent in 2012 to 19 percent in 2016, while Windows Phone’s share will jump from 5.2 percent in 2012 to 19.2 percent in 2016, IDC says.
Similar Reports also Favor Windows Phone
IDC’s prediction is not the only report that favors the rise of Windows Phone. Research from Kantar WorldPanel last month reported that Microsoft’s Windows Phone’s share is beginning to rise after Nokia’s decision to swap its legacy Symbian platform for Windows.
The report says Windows’ share in Germany more than doubled to 6 percent over the past year, while it jumped to 3-4 percent in Britain, France, Italy and the US.
Another report from iSuppli predicts Windows’ number two position will arrive one year in advance, i.e. in 2015. Windows Phone will surpass iPhone in market share in 2015, according to research firm iSuppli. The gain in market share over the next three years will mainly attributed by the introduction of the Nokia Lumia 900, which Nokia launched at CES event start of this year.