There have been plenty of doomsday reports indicating that Android’s incredible rise in marketshare will not only not last, but eventually begin to taper off. This new report courtesy of the IDC, the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker solidifies Android as the world’s top smartphone OS, but not without a bumpy road ahead.
The IDC report sees 2012 as the beginning of a major shift in smartphone sales, now dominated by Android and iOS. However, during the five-year period between 2012 and 2016, the IDC sees Android’s share of the global smartphone market dipping from 61% to 52.9%, iOS from 20.5% to 19% and here’s the kicker, Windows Phone will balloon from 5.2% in 2012 to 19.2% in 2016, passing iOS as the number two smartphone platform in the world.
“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.”
As for RIM, the IDC report expects their smartphone market share to stay relatively flat for the next few years, leading up to holding just 3% of the market in 2016, down from 72% in 2012. Unfortunately, I’m not even sure RIM will be around in 2016, never-mind how much market share their Blackberry platform will still hold.
At this point, I would say it’s far to early to truly decide where the industry will stand five years from now. While Android and iOS certainly seem to have an iron grip on the smartphone market, concerns over a possible exit of RIM as well as the yet-to-be determined path Microsoft will draw for Windows Phone 8. More importantly, Microsoft’s smartphone success will rest partly on the success of their upcoming Windows 8 platform and their hope that inviting the public to try Metro on the desktop will move them to mobile. It’s still anyone’s game at this point, but I think Google and Android can rest comfortably for now.