Look, we all know profit matters in this game, not the often deceiving market share measured by units. Look no further than the iPhone which last December accounted for more than half the industry's profits based on its miniscule four percent market share of the global handset market.
Of course Android's availability on hundreds of phones sold by dozens of carriers help a lot, making it the most popular smartphone platform in the world. Let's not forget that Android doesn't cost a dime because Google is after mobile ads.
According to IDC, Apple's handset will enjoy more or less flat growth in the coming years, falling from an estimated 15.7 percent smartphone market share this year to about 15.3 percent by 2015. In the same period Google's Android is projected to balloon from a 39.5 percent market share in 2011 to 45.4 percent by 2015, establishing Google's mobile operating system as an indisputable leader in smartphones.
Here's from IDC's senior research analyst Ramon Llamas:
For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smartphone strategies, 2010 was the coming-out party. 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.
You head the man, but that's kinda old news compared to the effects of the Nokia-Microsoft partnership on the industry as a whole.
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, March 29, 2011
IDC forecasts BlackBerry to fall from 14.9 percent this year to 17.1 percent in 2015. As expected, Symbian will be slaughtered by 2015, falling to just 0.2 percent share of the smartphone market. At the same time, Nokia's switch to Windows Phone will boost Microsoft's operating system - which today holds onto a 5.5 percent smartphone share - all the way up to the same 20.9 percent share Symbian enjoys today. If true, the change will put Windows Phone right behind Android and ahead of iOS.
Seth Weintraub writes on the Fortune blog there's no way IDC can possibly predict what the market will look like four years from now. He says it's a guessing game at best and warns it "isn't as easy as sliding Symbian's 20.9% market share over to Windows," offering the following observations:
- BlackBerry is moving to QNX and won't exist in 2015, so you can delete that 13.7%. The company is also at a turning point and could drop off the map or could continue to thrive.
- Symbian won't exist at the end of next year, so change that to 0%
- IDC, according to this projection, sees Android's quadruple digit yearly growth slowing to almost nothing over the next four years.
- Apple's iOS drops market share while Windows quadruples? Even with the Nokia (NOK) alliance, that seems bull..ish.
The industry will ship an astounding 450 million smartphones in 2011 versus 303.4 million units shipped last year. The smartphone market will grow more than four times the overall cellphone market because a lot of people with feature phones will upgrade to smartphones.