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WP7 on Android's tail by 2015, says IDC

Smartphone market's silver medal to be snatched by Nokia and Microsoft?

Smartphone market's silver medal to be snatched by Nokia and Microsoft?

Windows Phone 7: Nokia's Stephen Elop and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer announcing their strategic alliance

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced their strategic Windows Phone 7 alliance in FebruaryPhoto: David Meyer/ZDNET UK

Microsoft's smartphone OS, Windows Phone 7 (WP7), may still be wet behind the ears but give it a few years and it'll be chasing Android's tail, according to analyst house IDC.

Microsoft's mobile fortunes were adrift for years while it struggled to modernise its previous mobile platform, Windows Mobile, in the face of stiff new competition from Apple's iOS and Google's Android. But last year Microsoft reset its mobile efforts with its all-new WP7 OS, and gained a significant boost when the world's biggest mobile maker - Nokia - signed up to the platform.

"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," noted Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst at IDC, in a statement. "The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform."

While IDC does not expect any Nokia WP7 devices to land until next year, by 2015 it predicts WP7 will be the number two smartphone OS in the world, behind Android.

IDC reckons Android will take 39.5 per cent of the smartphone market this year, rising to 45.4 per cent by 2015 - a compound annual growth rate of 23.8 per cent. Meanwhile, WP7 will swell from just 5.5 per cent this year to just over a fifth of the market, 20.9 per cent, by 2015 - a CAGR of 67.1 per cent.

WP7's gains are Symbian's losses: Nokia's former workhorse OS will slide from 20.9 per cent market share in 2011 to a non-existent 0.2 per cent by 2015, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report.

The analyst reckons the next five years will see RIM's BlackBerry OS and Apple's iOS largely treading water, with iOS staying in third place - with 15.7 per cent market share in 2011, dipping to 15.3 per cent by 2015 - while RIM's fourth-place OS drops from 14.9 per cent in 2011 to 13.7 per cent by 2015.

Feature phones are also losing out to smartphones. The growth rate of the smartphone market is set to be more than four times the rate of the overall mobile phone market, according to IDC.

The analyst predicts the worldwide smartphone market will grow by 49.2 per cent this year as more business and consumer users trade in less capable mobiles for smartphones - so more than 450 million smartphones will ship in 2011, compared with 303.4 million last year.