Gartner: Microsoft Windows Phone market share to surpass Apple’s iOS in 2015

Worldwide smartphone sales will reach 468 million units in 2011, a 57.7 percent increase from 2010, according to Gartner Inc. By the end of 2011, Android will move to become the most popular operating system (OS) worldwide and will build on its strength to account for 49 percent of the smartphone market by 2012 (see Table 1).

Sales of open OS devices will account for 26 percent of all mobile handset device sales in 2011, and are expected to surpass the 1 billion mark by 2015, when they will account for 47 percent of the total mobile device market. (An open OS makes a software developer kit (SDK) available to developers, who can use native application programming interfaces (APIs) to write applications. The OS can be supported by a sole vendor or multiple vendors. It can be, but does not have to be, open source. Examples are BlackBerry OS, iOS, Symbian, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, Limo Foundation, WebOS and bada.)

“By 2015, 67 percent of all open OS devices will have an average selling price of $300 or below, proving that smartphones have been finally truly democratized,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, in the press release.

“As vendors delivering Android-based devices continue to fight for market share, price will decrease to further benefit consumers”, Ms. Cozza said. “Android’s position at the high end of the market will remain strong, but its greatest volume opportunity in the longer term will be in the mid- to low-cost smartphones, above all in emerging markets.”

Table 1
Worldwide Mobile Communications Device Open OS Sales to End Users by OS (Thousands of Units)

Gartner Worldwide Mobile Communications Device Open OS Sales to End Users by OS
Source: Gartner (April 2011)

Gartner predicts that Apple’s iOS will remain the second biggest platform worldwide through 2014 despite its share deceasing slightly after 2011. This reflects Gartner’s underlying assumption that Apple will be interested in maintaining margins rather than pursuing market share by changing its pricing strategy. This will continue to limit adoption in emerging regions. iOS share will peak in 2011, with volume growth well above the market average. This is driven by increased channel reach in key mature markets like the U.S. and Western Europe.

Research In Motion’s share over the forecast period will decline, reflecting the stronger competitive environment in the consumer market, as well as increased competition in the business sector. Gartner has factored in RIM’s migration from BlackBerry OS to QNX which is expected in 2012. Analysts said this transition makes sense because RIM can create a consistent experience going from smartphones to tablets with a single developer community and — given that QNX as a platform brings more advanced features than the classic BlackBerry OS — it can enable more competitive smartphone products.

Gartner predicts that Nokia will push Windows Phone well into the mid-tier of its portfolio by the end of 2012, driving the platform to be the third largest in the worldwide ranking by 2013. Gartner has revised its forecast of Windows Phone’s market share upward, solely by virtue of Microsoft’s alliance with Nokia. Although this is an honorable performance it is considerably less than what Symbian had achieve in the past underlying the upward battle that Nokia has to face.

Gartner analysts said new device types will widen ecosystems. “The growth in sales of media tablets expected in 2011 and future years will widen the ecosystems that open OS communications devices have created. This will, by and large, function more as a driver than an inhibitor for sales of open OS devices,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

“Consumers who already own an open OS communications device will be drawn to media tablets and more often than not, to media tablets that share the same OS as their smartphone,” Ms. Milanesi said. “This allows consumers to be able to share the same experience across devices as well as apps, settings or game scores. At the same time, tablet users who don’t own a smartphone could be prompted to adopt one to be able to share the experience they have on their tablets.”

Gartner’s detailed forecast is available in the report “Forecast: Mobile Communications Devices by Open Operating System, Worldwide, 2008-2015.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at

Source: Gartner, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: iCal’ed. We will certainly revisit these (and IDC’s) numbers annually, if not more often.

Related article:
IDC: By 2015, both Android and Windows Phone will beat Apple’s iOS in smartphone market share – March 29, 2011


  1. I think we’re making the mistake of assuming that the consumer has total sway in the fate of Apple. Let’s not forget Microsoft’s influence in the work place.

    Microsoft has entrenched tie-in to the enterprise with Office, Windows, Exchange, SQL Server.

    I think their strategy will be to make their phones work better with their software than the competition.

    So quick adoption of a MS phone is not that big a stretch to imagine.

    1. a guy i work with said the same thing.
      he walked into a Verizon store 2 months ago to pick up his shiny new windows phone.

      walked out with an iPhone 4.
      he couldnt stand the windows phone, he played with the demo for 20 minutes in store while waiting for the salesman. walked over to the iPhone demo, walked back and forth between them comparing things… bought the iPhone.

  2. Seriously! They need to include a forward looking disclaimer. Insert company name in blanks. These “analyst” know that just because they say something doesn’t make it come true.

    Some of the information on this site may contain projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events or the future financial performance of _______. We wish to caution you that these statements are only predictions and that actual events or results may differ materially. We refer you to the documents that _______ files from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These documents contain and identify important factors that could cause the actual results to differ materially from those contained in our projections or forward-looking statements, including, among others, changes in the demand for ______’ products; changes in economic conditions generally or technology spending in particular; changes in the competitive dynamics of _______’ markets, including strategic alliances and consolidation among its competitors or strategic partners; deterioration of ______’ relationships with XYZ manufactures and strategic partners, and _______’ inability to compete effectively in an increasingly competitive market. _______ assumes no obligation, and does not intend, to update these forward-looking statements.

  3. you have to give institutions like gartner and (gag) consumers union (CR) who are trapped in linear mental paths and justifying previous predictions and ratings credit for trying to appear relevant. other than trying, what else can they do. linear extrapolation, regardless of what assumptions you make are doomed when you protract the assumption out beyond the temporal limits of the assumptions impacts.

    that is why assuming the MS/nokia lashup seems so weird when taken to even 2012, much less 2015. this assumes the rest of the world stood still while MS/nokia catches up. it’s kind of like the dinosaur believing they could put the extinction level event back in the bottle after it already happened. do the people at MS/nokia and gartner/CU (might as well add RIM to that list) have an employee exchange program?

    by 2015 the smartphone as we know it today will have been re-invented at least 2 if not 3 or 4 times. the iphone was just one re-invention coming on the heels of palm and RIM. look what happened to palm and RIM as they could not go with the flow. MS/nokia is already showing signs of designing to rev1, much like the zoom benchmarked to to the G1 ipad (even CU got that one).

    what is even more amazing is gartner and CU get people to pay them money for their “intelligence”.

  4. Gartner makes the same mistakes as Apple’s competition. They plan on Apple’s current models to remain unchanged going forward. Despite clear cut examples of the continuing revolutionary upgrading and transformation of everything from the Mac OS, chips, to the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, these dolts expect that somehow Apple freezes in its tracks and Microsoft, et al, will actually develop the vision to innovate, something for which we have no evidence whatsoever.

  5. No secret how these things work. Microsoft hires Gartner to do a study that describes a scenario in which MSFT’s phone looks good several years out. Gartner does the work, takes the money, and provides appropriate disclaimers (legalese about ‘forward looking statements’, etc.) then publishes the work.

    If Gartner had done independent research, they wouldn’t be giving it out for free; they charge a substantial fee to obtain or, or make it available only to their subscribers (who also pay a substantial annual subscription fee). Clearly, MSFT was behind this, and wanted it public.

    If I had the money, I could hire Gartner to make even me look good in 2015!

  6. If this report used Ballmer’s influence with Gartner in a desperate ploy to keep him in the CEO’s chair, I applaud it.

    Ballmer to 2015 and beyond! And let’s hope by then we can have hundreds of empty ms stores to laugh at.

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