Android poised to hit its peak this year, Windows Phone to become No. 2 smartphone OS by 2016: IDC

Android poised to hit its peak this year, Windows Phone to become No. 2 smartphone OS by 2016: IDC

A new report from research firm IDC suggests that Android will reach the peak of its growth in 2012, as overall mobile shipments begin to slow, but states that it will be Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform that will make inroads into the smartphone market currently dominated by Google and Apple.

IDC believes that worldwide mobile shipments will see their lowest annual growth rate since 2009, seeing a slight increase of 4% in 2012 as shipments rise from 1.7 billion to 1.8 billion between over the past year.

The rapid decline in feature phone sales (although they will still comprise 61.6 percent of the total mobile phone shipments) and a lack of consumer spending on new handsets is said to be the biggest contributor to the slow growth of the mobile phone market.

However, this is all set to change by 2016, with IDC forecasting 2.3 billion mobile phones will be shipped in that period. IDC has said it before and it’s saying it again, market growth won’t be down to Android or iOS, it’s all Microsoft.

Demand for smartphones is being boosted by operator subsidies, lower handset prices and component costs and a wider choice of handsets. The resulting price wars are stimulating smartphone sales, as consumers seek to own the best devices for little or no money down.

Android will remain the most-shipped smartphone OS in the next five years but IDC believes that its current 61% share of the smartphone market will fall to 52.9 percent by the end of 2016, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5 percent. Korean electronics Samsung is forecast to drive the majority of Android sales, but the OS is expected to account for less of the total smart handsets shipped during that time.

The growth of Apple’s iOS smartphones is expected to remain flat as its share falls from 20.5 percent in 2012 to 19 percent in 2016. IDC puts emerging markets as a key factor in the growth of device shipments, something that the company appears to be focusing on with the recent announcement of pre-pay iPhones on US carriers.

IDC predicted that Windows Phone would become the number two smartphone OS in terms of shipments back in March 2011 — it appears that Nokia’s struggle to sell its Lumia Windows Phone handsets hasn’t dampened IDC’s spirits.

IDC remains confident that if Nokia’s “foothold in emerging markets is maintained”, Windows Phone shipments will command a 19.2% share by the end of 2016, rising from 5.2 percent with a CAGR of 46.2 percent. A lot of importance is placed on Nokia and Microsoft converting the wide base of Symbian handset owners over to the Windows Phone platform.

Last year, RIM’s BlackBerry platform was predicted to hold a 15% share of the market. IDC now believes it will command just 5.9%, not surprising given its struggles to get its BlackBerry 10 devices to market and executive hires and fires.

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