Android, Apple iOS run away from pack: Can Windows Phone challenge at all?

Android, Apple iOS run away from pack: Can Windows Phone challenge at all?

Summary: If you're a challenger to the Android-Apple tag team these IDC standings are simply depressing.

TOPICS: Windows

IDC's latest stats on smartphone market share paint a rosy picture for the Android-Apple iOS duopoly while also sounding alarm bells for any challenger, notably Microsoft's Windows Phone platform.

Simply put, Android and iOS control a whopping 82 percent of the smartphone market. Android and Apple devices simply dominate with a combined market share of 82 percent. Android's first quarter market share was 59 percent and iOS had 23 percent.

In other words, Android has the army and Apple has the popularity and integrated phones.

See alsoWill Windows Phone's bumpy start eventually lead to success?Windows Phone: Photography the key to its success? | I'm still not giving up on Windows PhoneMicrosoft's shifting priorities: It's about timeAT&T mobile chief: Windows 8 can boost Windows Phone

The standings go like this:

If you're a challenger to the Android-Apple tag team these standings are simply depressing. RIM's market share has tanked 30 percent from a year ago. Windows Phone hasn't really gotten any traction. Even Linux---fueled by Samsung's bada---is ahead of Windows Phone. And there's little marketing behind bada. To wit: Samsung accounted for 81.6 percent of all Linux smartphones.

As for Windows Phone, IDC said:

Windows Mobile/Windows Phone has yet to make significant inroads in the worldwide smartphone market, but 2012 should be considered a ramp-up year for Nokia and Microsoft to boost volumes. Until Nokia speeds the cadence of its smartphone releases or more vendors launch their own Windows Phone-powered smartphones, IDC anticipates slow growth for the operating system.

Simply put, Windows Phone is going to need more than Nokia at this rate. Samsung already has Android and Windows Phone in the fold. Going forward, Microsoft may need Samsung, HTC and others to carry the Windows Phone torch.

The problem here is obvious: Windows Phone is a lovely mobile operating system, but isn't materially better to entice consumers and businesses to sign up. Windows 8 may change that equation, but frankly we're running out of excuses for Windows Phone as a competitor.

RIM and its BlackBerry 10 platform could challenge, but we've heard about comebacks before.

Add it up and it may be time for a new challenger completely. Amazon? Facebook? Anybody. After all, every smartphone buyer wants more competition and a No. 3. Right now it's two powerhouses and a bunch of weaklings.

Topic: Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Yes

    Yes, we are definitely not in the final inning of the mobile game. Apple or Google or both could make a misstep or two and Microsoft could easily sneak in, or RIM for that matter.
    • I don't know...

      The speed at which the mobile market share is changing hands would certainly suggest that we can look forward to more big changes in the industry. But I don't think it will happen. Both Apple and Google have made missteps in their platforms, and they have made decisions that many would consider bad, just as Microsoft has made many good decisions. Still, the market changes in a very predictable way. It's always Android and iOS gaining ground against Windows, Blackberry and Symbian. It's never the other way around.

      I think it has more to do with the mobile market moving from enterprise to consumers, and Apple and Google just having that much larger pull with consumers that Microsoft or RIM. It has less to do with who has the best operating system or who makes the least number of misstakes.
      • Expectations

        The expectation that Windows Phone will have significant market share quickly is just silly. Both the iPhone and Android took years to get to where they are now. Windows Phone is only a year and a half old AND has only recently gotten a true marketing push thanks to Nokia. Realistically Windows Phone should have a 6% to 10% of marketshare by the end of the year.
      • Windows Phone is under the radar

        Actualy Windows Phone is present in smartphone market longer than all mentioned apart from Symbian. But what you wrote there shows just how much chance it has to do anything on that market, most people were unaware of it's existance, and many more will still be unaware.
      • @Theli You are spot on!

        "I think it has more to do with the mobile market moving from enterprise to consumers"

        That's exactly it! When Android came out, it was criticized for not being more business centric, mostly from the Blackberry/Window Mobile camp. iPhone went straight after consumers and Android followed suit.

        Another key factor was integrated app stores. Apple had the upper hand because it was out the gate first. Google made a brilliant move by offering $250k in an app contest. That allowed them to get fill their store with hundreds of apps all for the low, low price of $250,000.

        Microsoft's problem is that they targeted the big developer outfits first, even giving them first dibs to the SDK at the exclusion of all others. Apple & Google made their SDK available to all from the giddy up and I think this is another key factor as to why WP doesn't have the traction it wants.

        Think about it: are "all" the apps on your iPhone or Android device written by the big boys? Are some of the ones you use on the daily by small or individual developers? Those apps that are worth the time and expense for a large outfit to write but are perfect for the indi developer?
      • Apple made missteps? Um, ok, lol.

      • Free markets vs Old customs.


        "Actualy Windows Phone is present in smartphone market longer than all mentioned apart from Symbian. But what you wrote there shows just how much chance it has to do anything on that market, most people were unaware of it's existance, and many more will still be unaware."

        Android and iOS have both been longer than Windows Phone. Don't do same mistake as analytics who join Windows Mobile and Windows Phone to same thing. Both use same CE operating system (Mobile 5.x and Phone 7.x versions from it), but still are totally different software systems for mobile devices.

        Linux (the operating system in Android, Harmattan, Maemo, MeeGo, Tizen, LiMo etc) has been longer in use on mobile devices than what XNU and CE operating system have even existed.
        Before Symbian was Symbian but EPOC16, it was just few years older than Linux (1989 vs 1991) and 16bit vs Linux 32bit (few lines of code for 16bit BIOS).

        Windows Mobile was popular and gained even a 25% market share. But since iOS and Android, Windows Mobile started losing its changes like S60 (all Series software platforms top of Symbian and NOS) did as well. And now when Microsoft re-designed whole new software system for smartphones using same CE operating system but with new technologies (like Silverlight, XNA etc) and new GUI, they still have the problem because they are forcing people to use Windows mentality. Hotmail, Bing, Windows, Office, IE etc.
        Too much MS has custom to illusion that people want Windows. For decades they have forced PC customers to buy a Windows and every OEM to ship Windows pre-installed, and now when people have free markets, they make another choice.
      • Microsoft entered itself into the phone market eleven years ago...

        In 2001 Microsoft announced Windows CE Pocket PC OS, dubbing it "Microsoft Windows Powered Smartphone 2002." Phone vendors flocked to something else in droves. Upgrades were released in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 and finally WP7 in 2010. Now I'm sure a lot of people would like to think that Microsoft just jumped into the phone space in 2010, it just isn't true. It is true that nobody jumped into Microsoft's offering, but having a crappy product that nobody wants anything to do with does not equate to not being in the market. With WP7, they finally got Nokia and a couple of other vendors to give it a shot. Compared to the Microsoft offerings between 2001 and 2010, WP7 has been a staggering success. Unfortunately, when your yardstick for success is comparing it to abject failure, performance that would drive most companies out of the market actually looks pretty good. The idea that "Hey, we might actually *make* money this time around" becomes pervasive. Heck, after losing an estimated $60,000 per phone with the Kin just the idea of not losing money on a phone venture has to feel like discovering a diet of pizza, chocolate, ice cream and beer will make you live forever.
      • #Don't Know

        I think WinPhone??? er, xPhone, will do well. It's taken just a year for it to reach 26.9% of market (already). Yes, it's slow but to expect run away growth in a couple of months or a couple of years is absolutely... (fill in the blank)! With U.S. economy in its present state, it's gonna take years for "Nokasoft" to climb to the top of the mobile food chain. (and timing for folks to roll off their current contract to even investigate xPhone) @ccrokett - agreed! The xPhone is a consumer phone not enterprise phone. Just like Win 8 will be for consumers - not enterprise.
        Crashin Chris
    • Works Both Ways

      and so far I am seeing more missteps by RIM and MS than by the Android Collective or Apple.

      Think of it this way; if the OS could handle it and Nokia had launched something equivalent to the HTC One series with a Win8 update promise I bet you would have see a much bigger adoption of Win in the latest go-round.
    • We are definitely in the final inning !!!

      Look hat the figures! Look at the charts for the last years! Look ignorant !
      • You do that so well.

        William Farrel
    • Yes...

      "Apple made missteps? Um, ok, lol.
      bobjones2007 1 hr ago "

      I'd call losing 50% of your market share a misstep.
      • Funny thing..

        Apple could misstep in a big ol' pile of dog crap and people would still buy the product just because it is Apple. Hell, they could make their phones out of clubbed baby seals and plutonium, and they would still sell.
    • Yes

      No doubt that anything can happen in the market. Imagine Nokia was a market leader for so many years and now they are fighting hard to regain at least a little.
      Further, have used the iPhone, Android phone and a Windows Phone and have found that the easiest and simplest to use is the Windows Phone, especially if you are not a tech freak!!!! :)
    • The future of devices...

      ... is the transformer phone and thin client computing.
      We are going to trend from having multiple devices each with their own CPUs and storage to having a single device (a phone) that does it all!
      What will happen is we have this powerful phone that we can dock into a tablet dock and transform it into a full screen tablet. When we get home or in the office, we can dock it into a lapdock to use it like a desktop machine with a mouse and keyboard. We get in our car, we dock the phone and the dumb touchscreen in our car becomes a carputer.
      There will be no compromise as our "personal computer" transforms into the ideal device we need for every situation.
      Further down the track, this concept will extend to thin client computing where we just use the phone as a VM server and we just use (multiple) thin clients to connect to the phone. You will then buy dumb tablets which just becomes a wireless terminal to your phone. The phone does all the connectivity, processing, and storage. The dumb tablet just does input and output. You will also have a dumb laptop terminal which does the same thing in laptop form. When you relax in front of your TV, guess what? Your TV becomes the thin client/dumb terminal for your phone as well. When you go to a net cafe, you log into your phone using their dumb devices and use it just like your own dumb devices at home or in the office. The market will just become dumb devices like tablets, laptops, desktops, TVs, even carputer screens which run as a virtual machine on your phone.
      The term Central Processing Unit (CPU) will take on a new level of meaning as you will truly just have one CPU doing it all. Your CPU virtually, dynamically, and multiple-ly scale itself to whatever devices you want to use wirelessly. Everything just becomes input and output for the phone.
      Having all this is great, but we need an OS that can handle all these transformations and scalability.
      iOS? no chance. Sorely lacking in scalability, functionality, and Apple is too tight to open it up. Iphones will become the Nokia phones of yesteryears. It will still work, but lack relevance and adaptability as mobile computing evolves.
      OS X? I don't see a rosy future for OS X as Apple continues to dumb down the OS and apply makeup to the UI. Dropping ZFS was a significant bad move for Apple's desktop OS. It is getting technically worse from Apple and doesn't look like turning around. They can fool the ignorant, but for how long?
      Android? half a chance. It is probably possible to do most of this on android already. However, Android presents a compromised situation in so many areas that it is not mature enough to do this properly. The main concern is that Android apps are designed with limited intent and limited UI - they are basically phone apps. If Google could scale the Android concept and get Android developers to think big and design their apps to scale devices, we could get there with Android.
      Linux? mature enough on desktops, but doesn't scale down to small devices well. It is the opposite situation of Android. It needs a huge shift in UI and the fragmentation pretty much makes a significant shift unlikely.
      Windows 8? this is the OS that has the best chance of doing it all. It ticks all the right boxes. It is the ONLY OS with a UI and backbone that could stand a chance of scaling from a watchphone to a TV. Microsoft has thought about the points I have made about future devices and it shows in Windows 8. Whether you like it or not, Microsoft is onto a future with Windows 8 whereas the rest will just be tweaking a tired OS and unscalable UI and will struggle to match Windows in the long run. Unless something unbelievable happens with any of the other OSes, I see nobody catching up with Microsoft in the long run. Microsoft is many moves ahead of the competition and while there will be resistance in the short term, Microsoft has done their homework and will be the winner in the long run whether you like it or not.
      • Fortunately, or unfortunately, I think your right.

        Its the long term direction of where we appear to be headed.

        Of course the Microsoft naysayers would hate to admit that Microsoft has actually been able to figure this out and begin the long haul process of moving operating systems in this direction first.

        Its much easier to continue as they always have, giving the backhand to Microsoft for blundering their latest OS and not using foresight or innovation. That reaffirms their omnipresent stance of Microsoft being lost and about to go under.

        While on the one hand, Microsoft's significant change in the UI and multi platform usability for Windows would appear to be simply screaming for all to hear "this is where we see things going in the near future", there are still apparently an astonishing number of people more then a little bewildered at what it was MS was thinking when they designed Windows 8.

        Well, you explained it very nicely. Let the word spread that this is what MS was thinking and they have been the first to see it coming and have acted accordingly.
        • MSFT figured it out

          It helps that others have figured it out first and MSFT only needs to copy. That is, there are already iPad apps that allow it to become a second monitor for Macs, and there are Android phones which can dock to monitor/keyboard/mouse and become Ubuntu desktops. Note, however, that when these devices dock to other devices, they adopt UIs more in keeping with those other devices.

          So MSFT isn't the first to see or implement device interoperability/docking. They're only the first trying to push a single UI and single API across many device types. And that's driven by the desire to leverage PCs users (who effectively have no choice) who'll be obliged to use the new UI, and thus become familiar with it, and thus want Windows phones and tablets to have the same UI.

          IOW, an argument can be made that the benefit of a single UI across many device types is the only way MSFT sees for breaking into phones and tablets in a big way. In which case this isn't so much visionary as desperate.

          I agree that greater portability will be the big thing in the future, but I'm yet to be convinced that the same UI makes sense with a 4" hand-held touch screen with no other input and a 27" non-touch screen monitor with keyboard and mouse. If most people find it doesn't make sense, MSFT will have made the biggest blunder in its history.
      • Win 8 Metro UI

        Win 8 still has all the normal windows desktop like Windows 7. The Metro homescreen is just a launcher. Think of it as a glorified fullscreen start menu which you can access anytime by left clicking the bottom left corner. Click again and you're back to your windows desktop just like you would if you click twice on the start button in Windows 7. All the other stuff that used to be on the right panel (like control panel, devices, etc) of the start menu is available by right clicking the same bottom left corner. On this right click menu is access to "Programs and Features" and it will show everything you have installed so nothing is more than 2 clicks away.
        The only thing different is the missing start button. All the functionality of the start button is still there.
        All the windows desktop is still there for backwards compatibility and for apps needing the windows UI. The metro apps are simply fullscreen type apps with touch friendly UI. Many apps can switch between the Metro UI and the traditional windows UI so nothing is lost. Windows 8 is 2 UIs in 1 OS which allows it to be backwards compatible and scale devices. The question is which direction apps will fork in future and whether both UIs will continue to be supported.
        Those who complain about Windows 8 simply have not tried to use it. If they did, they would find that nothing has been lost and a lot has been gained.
    • 75

      I believe that war is being fight on other battlefield than on smartphones, as it is on tablets. As a tablet can replace smartphone. People are tired to recharge their smartphones every day or two. Give a person a tablet what has 10 hour batterytime what gives them 2-3 or whole week use time and better usability about web and interactivity. And then a normal phone what have charge for whole week.

      The phone should be just for communication, calling to other person, reading something and typing something very short. Not for browsing facebook, web or reading long entries. Even a facebook comments becomes tired ones.
      When I can make contact and change information quicker trough calling and talking than typing a SMS (and I am very quick) or few of them vice and versa, I don't like to spent time watching screen when I can talk and watch around me.
      Even that I can type perfectly virtual keyboard without watching display at all, it is so slow. And if I pay just one dollar per day for unlimited talk time and data, I can call to anyone I want to quickly connect to people. And usually when using services like Latitude to inform other parties where I am if we should meet, there is no need even to call when others can just check their device where I move and what is estimated time of arrival.

      Windows 8 on tablet is the key here. If Microsoft fails on that, everything crashes. Even when Windows 8 will succeed on tablets, it isn't promise Windows Phone will succeed on smartphones, because tablets makes smartphones more useless.

      First I was planning to buy a 10" tablet. But I noticed that I would like to have home a 12-13" tablet for sofa and bed. At table and traveling a 10" is great size like when sitting in train. But even in bus and metro I would take 7" what goes to pocket and isn't so visible to others.

      The "perfect" could be Samsung Galaxy Note, but still it is a smartphone, I will take cladly a 7" and something like Samsung Xcover combination. When I need a phone, I use basic phone. When I need Internet and other data features, I use tablet.

      Rarely I have noticed that I don't have pockets even for phone, wallet and keys, so I need to carry them in my hands. And I found many situations so awkward.
      So at those cases I will like to use handbag and they goes well even with suits, what can not hold phones, wallets or keys in pockets ruining the look.