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There was a moment, albeit a very brief one, where things were looking good for Windows Phone. Coupled with some great devices by Nokia, it was outselling the iPhone in a few key markets and it seemed to be racing ahead of the competition in the battle for third place. Now though, it looks as if a combination of indecisiveness on Microsoft’s part and a total onslaught of cheap Android devices have seen it take a serious dent in sales.
According to the latest figures from technology tracking and research house IDC, Microsoft’s mobile OS slipped to 2.5% of global marketshare, down from 3.4% a year ago. Android meanwhile shipped on nearly 85% of the smartphones shipped in the second quarter of this year. iOS meanwhile slipped from 13% to just under 12%, but still managed to ship on more devices than in the same quarter a year ago.
Given that it’s pretty much the de-facto choice for low-cost smartphone manufactuers, Android’s spectacular growth should hardly be surprising.
“With many of its OEM partners focusing on the sub-US$200 segments, Android has been reaping huge gains within emerging markets,” says Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “During the second quarter, 58.6% of all Android smartphone shipments worldwide cost less than US$200 off contract, making them very attractive compared to other devices. With the recent introduction of Android One, in which Google offers reference designs below US$100 to Android OEMs, the proportion of sub-US$200 volumes will climb even higher.”
That will only make it even more difficult for other players to crack the space, especially when, by IDC’s reckoning, the biggest stumbling block is getting enough manufacturers on board to have a proper go of it.
“It’s been an incredible upward slog for other OS players – Windows Phone has been around since 2010 but has yet to break the five percent share mark, while the backing of the world’s largest smartphone player, Samsung, has not boosted Tizen into the spotlight,” said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “The biggest stumbling block is around getting enough partnerships in play – not just phone manufacturers but also developers, many of which are smaller outfits looking to minimize development efforts by sticking to the two big ecosystems.”
The research company does however think there’s a glimmer of hope for Windows Phone as it brings key emerging markets players such as BLU, Micromax, Prestigio, and Yezz on board. That said, it needs to move fast and move intelligently if it is to continue providing a viable third way to those jaded by the jostling between Android and iOS.