Windows Phone

Why IDC's 2015 Nokia-Microsoft predictions are bunk

Larry Dignan lists four reasons why IDC's crystal ball for the smartphone industry in 2015 may be a bit cracked. Windows Phone 7 is the no. 2 OS behind Android, courtesy of the Nokia deal.

This is a guest post from Larry Dignan of TechRepublic sister site ZDNet. You can follow Larry on the ZDNet blog Between the Lines, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

IDC's outlook for the smartphone industry in 2015 has Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 the No. 2 operating system behind Android. Microsoft's global surge will come via its partnership with Nokia.

Here's the money chart for IDC's somewhat cracked crystal ball:

Click the image to enlarge.

In a nutshell, IDC is assuming that all Nokia users will stay loyal to the brand and become Windows Phone 7 users.

IDC analyst Ramos Llamas said:

Up until the launch of Windows Phone 7 last year, Microsoft has steadily lost market share while other operating systems have brought forth new and appealing experiences. The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android.

Mary Jo Foley noted:

So how is Windows Phone OS going to catapult to No. 2 in four years? If you look at IDC's chart, it will largely happen by picking up almost all the Symbian share, according to IDC. IDC is predicting the 20.9 percent Symbian share will be down to .2 percent by 2015. 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.

Indeed, IDC's projections are bunk. For starters, the smartphone industry is moving too fast to make predictions for 2015. But there are a lot of other reasons to question IDC's assumptions for 2015. Here are four:

  1. Nokia isn't likely to hold smartphone share. Let's see Nokia won't have a barrage of Windows Phone 7 phones in the market until 2012. 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 its possible that folks that leave the handset maker in 2011 may not come back.
  2. Windows Phone 7 may not appeal to all Symbian users. How do you assume that most Symbian users will go to Microsoft? Because Nokia says so? The logic doesn't work. Symbian users are likely to watch iOS, RIM's QNX and Android too. Peer pressure may play a role also.
  3. The smartphone industry moves at light speed and four years is an eternity. Any projection beyond 2012 is suspect to me. Four years ago no one saw Apple's iOS coming. Android didn't exist.
  4. IDC's projection assumes near flawless execution. If Nokia's timetables slip for Windows Phone 7 devices, it will have to close a larger market share gap by 2015. On the other side, Microsoft has to show it can evolve Windows Phone 7. Neither partner can run in place. More than 20 percent market share in 2015 is aggressive.

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8 comments
ActiveAvatar
ActiveAvatar

As a matter of correction, Windows 7 has 20% of the market worldwide and growing, mostly gaining at the expense of Vista, and a small erosion on XP which is still on the overwhelming proportion of Windows Machines. But the question really is does brand loyalty and the connection of phone to desktop or laptop have anything to do with future market share? I doubt it because MS can only use their undoubted user base power IF they can show how only using Win7 Phones can capitalize on the experience. I cannot see them able to do that, and for poor Nokia and the lovely people of Finland that is amazingly bad news.... My straw poll says people are not brand loyal, and they think Nokia was the BMW of the early 2000's but didn't maintain the edge. Looking at the choice of phones I tend to agree. It is all about mobility, and Windows has been all about desktop, corporate and a chunk of the games market... the rest bought windows because it was everywhere in shops and we were glad they did because we earn a good income when they do.

ctanner
ctanner

I agree brand loyalty does not make sence but Windows 7 has the lion share of the PC market and anytime MS come out with a mobile option that we hope is semless with the PC OS it is worth a try. I for one would love the functions of my PC shared almost 1:1 with my moble device. No limits. Currently no options exist in any market making this happen.

adornoe
adornoe

You don't like or believe the IDC predictions, and then you offer your own prediction that WM7 won't be #2. Which one to believe? Your predictions aren't any better than anyone else's, especially when you yourself state that, this is a rapidly changing market. No one can predict what the market is going to look like in a rapidly changing market, and one in which there is no real brand loyalty, and one in which people are very finicky about the whole smartphone market, especially when contracts expire every 2 years and new smartphones are introduced on what seems like a new one on a daily basis. The one thing, and biggest thing, that Microsoft has going for it is, that it's Microsoft, the biggest tech company out there, and if that muscle has anything to do with the future of smartphones, then it's very possible that it might become the #2, and perhaps even #1 in the smartphone arena. And, it could happen even before 2015. In a very volatile environment, the biggest and most recognizable tend to come out on top, even if feature-wise they aren't that much different from the rest of the competition. When it comes to infrastructure and support and applications and features, no other player out there can match Microsoft. That's why I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the IDC predictions.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

When it comes time to replace my N900, I'll consider Nokia provided they ship a worthy Meego update to the N### line. There is a bigger chance of me going back to a basic feature phone and a PDA device than being able to do what I do with any of the current contenders. Here's hoping Meego can make a go of it even without Nokia or that some other full distro option becomes available in something with a good touch screen, slider keyboard, array of radios now standard in smartphones plus whatever new features become commodity attributes.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Microsoft has a lot of muscle in the desktop and server space along with a good representation in the game console space. They've been an underdog in the mobile space for a long time now and may very well not be able to simply buy there way into a competitive share of the market. Nokia is talking about taking a year or so off before shipping any real Win7 Phone products? So far, Microsoft in the mobile space has been pretty consistant with Microsoft in the Tablet PC space; a lot of talk about what they are going to do in the future with luke warm recpetions so far.

adornoe
adornoe

there is no real locking in of customers for any one smartphone or tablet. You need to remember that, to Microsoft, and to any other tech company, the smartphone and tablet markets are necessities in order for them to retain any credibility in the overall technology sector. Thus, late to the game is inconsequential, and Microsoft has to stay in it, and perhaps to even win it. Being an also-ran, or a quitter, could be devastating to Microsoft and to any other company that doesn't have a huge and credible presence in those "new" markets.

adornoe
adornoe

Look, feature-wise, there really isn't that much difference between the current offerings, and whatever future features might be, anyone of the current players could easily implement once the others have done so. It's a game in which there really won't be any real winners unless, people decide with what they already understand, and what they understand, for the most part is Windows and Microsoft. Infrastructure-wise, Google can't compete against Microsoft, and Microsoft still offers a much bigger infrastructure than Apple, Apple's market-cap lead notwithstanding. Apple's destiny seems to be no more than 10% of any market, no matter what the market, whether PC OSes or smartphones or tablets. Apple may have the lead right now and percentage-wise, they have a huge lead, but when the market settles, a few years from now, Apple will "reclaim" their 10% range in the phone and tablet markets, similar to their PC OS. Android, well, it's in the same boat as Linux was when netbooks first came out: big lead, but conquered once Microsoft decided to get into the game. Look, all I'm saying is that, with Microsoft's muscle, it's bound to become very competitive and perhaps even take the lead for good; they've done it before and in this new field, they have to remain very competitive, or they can go kaput. So, I'm putting my money on Microsoft. (Not literally, though).

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm not saying Microsoft couldn't take more of a percentage of the smartphone market. I'm only pointing out that they've been the a dollar short and a day late since they stomped out Palm and got complacent. Even now they're being associated with what won't come out until next year based on this year's hot features; it doesn't make one optimistic watching the alternatives put out this year's hot features now while talking up next year's hot features. It seems Microsoft's only real advantage is owning the mobile and desktop OS so if they can't make them inter-operate far beyond a basic intellisync and the degree that Apple has engrained sync functions it may very well remain Apple for consumers and BB for business. (In terms of sync, what I'd really like to see is someone provide equally slick sync between mobile device an Windows/osX/Linux based systems. Enough already with trying to force the desktop OS decision based on limitations of the mobile OS sync functions.)

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