Android, Windows Phone 7 Dominate Market-Share Forecast

Android, which passed Symbian as the leading operating system worldwide in Q4 2010, will grow to more than 40 percent of the market in the second half of this year. Thats according to new data from IDC, which says vendors will ship a whopping 472 million smartphones in 2011 compared to roughly 305 million units shipped in 2010. That figure will nearly double to 982 million by the end of 2015.

Falling prices, increased functionality and lower-cost data plans are some of the primary reasons for the surge in sales, the researcher said.

While Android is expected to continue to lead the segment for several years, the biggest surge, IDC says, will come from Windows Phone 7. Nokia, which is phasing out Symbian, will start introducing Windows Phone-powered smartphones in large volumes in 2012, helping the operating system (along with its predecessor, Windows Mobile) account for more than 20 percent of market share by 2015. That would be good enough for a surprising second place topping Apples iOS, predicted to come in third at 17 percent. IDC says RIMs BlackBerry will continue to steadily lose market share, coming in fourth in 2015, with a little more than 13 percent. Other smartphone OSs will account for just 5.5 percent of the global share.

Even with Nokias role in backing Windows Phone 7, it seems hard to imagine the iPhone falling behind this new OS, especially with Apple expanding its reach into more global markets, particularly large telcos in China. But nobody saw Androids wild success coming a few years ago, either.

“Underpinning smartphone growth is the rapidly shifting operating system landscape,” said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC’s Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. “End-users are becoming more sophisticated about what kinds of experiences are offered by the different operating systems. Taking this as their cue, operating system developers will strive for more intuitive and seamless experiences, but will also look to differentiate themselves along key features and characteristics.”

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