Nokia's strategy to go with Windows Phone 7 for its smartphone operating system (OS) will likely cost the company its "undisputed" position as the market leader in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, as early as 2011, according to a new report.
In a statement released Thursday, IDC predicted that devices running Google's Android OS could overtake those powered by Symbian "as soon as this year", given that Nokia's Windows Phone 7 devices are not expected to be available in the market until the end of the year.
The Finnish phonemaker announced in February that it is partnering Microsoft to bring the Windows Phone 7 OS to its smartphone range. However, support for Symbian will still continue, the company had reassured.
IDC reported that from this year onwards, "a lot more" brands will come out with Android-based devices at a lower price point. This will not only buoy the demand for smartphones in emerging markets but will also encourage feature phone users in all markets to consider upgrading to smartphones, the research firm added.
Smartphone shipments in the region is expected to hit 137 million units this year, IDC said, noting that this is the first time shipments will surpass the 100 million mark.
Total mobile phone shipment, which include feature phones and smartphones, will grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34 percent in the region. Shipment will nearly double in five years' time to reach 942 million units, up from 551 million units in 2010, said IDC.
According to IDC, smartphones will grow eight times as fast as feature phones to reach 359 million units by 2015. By that time, three in five mobile phones shipped will be smartphones, in contrast to one in five in 2010.
Melissa Chau, research manager for client devices at IDC Asia-Pacific's domain research group, said in a statement: "Smartphones were a hot item in 2010, with more than double the shipments of 2009. In 2011, IDC expects this fire to keep burning."
The Singapore-based analyst attributed the growth of smartphones to mobile phone vendors racing to get consumers on higher-margin devices and mobile platform stakeholders' battle to woo app developers. She added that operators are also pushing smartphones to drive mobile data revenue.
A separate report from Canalys last month revealed that global shipments of Android phones had overtaken Symbian-based devices during the fourth quarter of 2010.
Canalys earlier this year also predicted that, globally, the Android platform will grow twice as fast as its rivals this year.