In a surprising report released today, the International Data Corporation (IDC) is estimating that Windows Mobile will overtake the Apple iPhone by 2016, becoming the second most popular mobile operating system under Google’s Android. Despite Windows Mobile’s slow start, the IDC cites Nokia’s foothold in emerging markets as rationale for their prediction.
According to the IDC, Windows Mobile’s market share is expected to increase from 5.2% in 2012 to 19.2% by 2016, while iOS drops from 20.5% to 19%. The IDC also predicts 2012 will be the peak of Android’s market share and while they remain the market leader, their share will fall from 60% in 2012 to 52.9% by 2016.
Nokia holds strong in emerging markets and its partnership with Microsoft has the potential for rapid growth of Windows Mobile. Microsoft, however, has a lot of work ahead to fulfill this prediction. It has entered the smartphone market much later than main competitors iOS and Android and have experienced slow sales thus far.
The IDC admits that much of Windows Mobile’s growth depends on the adoption by users leaving the Symbian operating system. Symbian-powered smartphone shipments are predicted to “all but cease” by 2014, meaning that Microsoft and Nokia need to act fast in order to gain those users and overtake the iOS market share. Without the allegiance of previous Symbian OS users, Windows Mobile may find it difficult to “maintain relevancy” in the smartphone market.