The mobile phone market is a growth industry, but according to the latest IDC report growth for 2012 is predicted to only be 1.4% compared to last year. More than 1.7 billion mobile phones will ship this year with the predicted number reaching 2.2 billion in 2016. If you look at the smartphone market though you will see serious growth with an increase of 45.1% for 2012 when compared to last year. My observations confirm that smartphones are appearing in people's hands more now than standard mobile phones and as subsidized launch prices regularly appear at the $50 or $99 level there are not many reasons why you wouldn't purchase a smartphone from your carrier.
I don't put a lot of stock into future predictions for the moble phone market since things change too fast to predict what is going to happen in four years, but the analysts and experts keep making those predictions. As you can see in the chart below from IDC, they forecast that Android will remain dominant with nearly 65% of the market, iOS will remain stagnant at about 19%, Windows Phone will grow from 2.6 to 11.5%, and BlackBerry will remain fairly constant at around 4%. It's difficult to predict what will happen with RIM starting in 2013 with the release of BB OS 10 and if Windows Phone 8 really will attract buyers to propel it into double digits in four years. I do agree with the Android and iOS predictions though as these have held fairly steady and likely will continue this way.
Android is the clear, undisputed leader in the smartphone market and Samsung is reaping those benefits. LG Electronics and Sony are starting to improve their sales as well. HTC and Motorola also have excellent Android devices, but this study did not present manufacturer specific data.
The iPhone remains the most expensive device in the smartphone lineup and as Android and Windows Phone unit prices drop the iPhone will remain out of reach for many people. Apple makes a healthy profit on iPhone sales and that strategy works for them so sticking at the 18 to 19% market share may be just fine for Apple.
Nokia and HTC need Windows Phone to succeed in order for them to stay relevant in the smartphone spaces. HTC also makes Android devices, but doesn't seem to sell enough of them to remain successful. I find the HTC and Nokia Windows Phone 8 devices to be quite compelling and if Microsoft and the carriers promote the platform they have a real chance of gaining that number three spot.