Research firm IDC has released its latest research on mobile market share by operating system, which revealed the continuance of several trends. Android and Windows Phone saw an increase in reach while iOS and Blackberry are on the downswing.
Android and iOS make up the vast majority of the market, with Android projected to make up 80.2% of the market and iOS 14.8%. at the end of 2014. Compare this to some past figures, without getting too distracted by the differences between the end of year projections and the Q1 numbers:
Android’s growth is the big story here, leveraging its open source model and lack of licensing fees to first dominate the low-end segment before becoming a real contender, if not champion, of high end devices. IDC sees more of the same market dominance on the horizon, with a projection of 77.6% in 2018 for Android.
iOS has held forth after seeing some of their market share taken by Android. Selling only high-end devices leaves Apple short of the most devices, but their portion of the market seems relatively stable. They are projected to continue falling slightly through 2018, with a projection of 13.7%.
If Android’s numbers weren’t what stood out to you, it is probably Blackberry that did. In 2011, they were still a very important player in the smartphone space, having an absolute stronghold in the business sector and still owning a reputation as some of the best top-shelf devices. Since, things have spiraled out of control.
At this point, efforts to acquiesce to the market by ditching physical keyboards and making phones compatible with Android apps have not yield many results. IDC predicts more of the same, projecting a recession to just 0.3% market share in 2018; I would venture to guess that Blackberry would go bankrupt before that if they are on that pace.
Windows Phone has by far the most optimistic projection, with an expectation to gain market share within this year, moving to 3.5%, and a 2018 estimate of 6.4%. It isn’t exactly market ownership, but at 6.4% Windows Phone would certainly be a meaningful player. This author’s opinion is that Windows Phone has a great deal of growth potential if they can just get more app development to take place. I know I would be unable to switch due to weak support for Google services – something that is in large part the result of non-cooperation from Google.
Another projection is that “other” operating systems will increase from a practically non-existent role (0.7%) to 2.7%, about the size of Windows Phone’s current market share. One wonders what these would be – Samsung’s Tizen could be a part of that, for sure. The in-development Firefox OS could make its way into some markets as well.
Projections are just projections, certainly. A game-changing device and/or feature set could radically shift things, but probably not in the same way we saw at the beginning of this decade. The amount of innovation left to do for smartphones is relatively limited compared to the transition from feature phones to smartphones. Convergence, say between smartphones and tablets, could be an intriguing factor as well.
Featured image by月明 端木 (Flickr)