In spite of common perception, Windows Mobile could take second place in the smartphone market in as little as four years, an iSuppli study predicted today. Analysts estimate that the phones shipped will triple from 27.7 million by the end of this year to 67.9 million in 2013, or enough to give it 15.3 percent of the industry behind Nokia’s predicted 47.6 percent. Microsoft is expected to slip to third this year but to recover over time.
The return to form is founded in a belief that Microsoft has the “major cards” needed to have a successful mobile platform. Windows Mobile is already well established with carrier support and a substantial app library, while it now also has an app store (Windows Marketplace for Mobile).
Its age is considered a problem, as its interface is harder to use than an iPhone’s and doesn’t support the capacitive touchscreens needed for multi-touch and other more intuitive finger input. However, senior analyst Tina Teng believes the launch of Windows Mobile 7 in 2010 will render Microsoft “much more competitive” precisely because it should solve both of these problems. She also dismisses the losses of Motorola and Palm as clients for Windows Mobile, saying that neither were significant enough to make an impact while the recent addition of LG will be much more important. Windows Mobile has more licenses than anyone with 14 versus Symbian’s 10.
The study doesn’t address Nokia’s own falling market share or outside factors, such as the maturation of younger platforms like Android and iPhone. Android has often been cited as the most direct competitor to Windows Mobile as it can be licensed by nearly any developer but is significantly less expensive to license and develop than Windows Mobile.