Gartner is projecting that by 2015, Windows Mobile will be the second most popular smartphone operating system, after Android. This will put it ahead of both Apple's iOS and RIM's BlackBerry. If this sounds familiar, it should. IDC, Gartner's main rival in the IT research business, made the same prediction at the end of last month, and for the same reason: Nokia's adoption of Microsoft's operating system.
The announcement says:
Gartner predicts that Nokia will push Windows Phone well into the mid-tier of its portfolio by the end of 2012, driving the platform to be the third largest in the worldwide ranking by 2013. Gartner has revised its forecast of Windows Phone’s market share upward, solely by virtue of Microsoft’s alliance with Nokia. Although this is an honorable performance it is considerably less than what Symbian had achieve in the past underlying the upward battle that Nokia has to face.
Garter is slightly more optimistic about Android. Where IDC expects its market share to grow to 45.4% in 2015, Gartner is predicting 48.8%. It also sees Apple's iOS doing slightly better and RIM's BlackBerry doing worse. Gartner pegs iOS at 17.2% against IDC's 15.3%, and BlackBerry at 11.1% against IDC's 13.7%.
When I reported IDC's research (see Windows Phone 7 to overtake iPhone, says IDC), I noted one of the hidden assumptions: "that Apple will not launch cheaper versions of the iPhone to compete against Android phones that already cost a lot less. (Apple did bring out cheap and crappy iPods, so I'm not betting against it.)". Gartner makes much the same point, saying:
This reflects Gartner’s underlying assumption that Apple will be interested in maintaining margins rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy. This will continue to limit adoption in emerging regions.
If they come true, Gartner's market share estimates will be good news for Microsoft but may be less good for Nokia. Gartner reckons that Symbian will have a market share of 19.2% this year, and that Windows Mobile will have a market share of 19.5% in 2015. In my view, that's optimistic, given the strength of the Android juggernaut. Still, Gartner is projecting that the combined market share of Symbian and Windows Mobile will drop from 24.8% in 2011 to 19.6% in 2015. Any success that HTC, Samsung and other suppliers have with Windows Mobile will also have to be subtracted from Nokia's sales.