Gartner: Microsoft faces slide into irrelevance in the next four years

“Microsoft faces a slide into irrelevance in the next four years unless it can make progress in the smartphone and tablet markets, because the PC market will continue shrinking, warns the research group Gartner,” Charles Arthur reports for The Guardian. “It says a huge and disruptive shift is underway, in which more and more people will use a tablet as their main computing device, researchers say. That will also see shipments of Android devices dwarf those of Windows PCs and phones by 2017. Microsoft-powered device shipments will almost be at parity with those of Apple iPhones and iPads – the latter a situation not seen since the 1980s.”

Arthur reports, “In a new forecast published on Thursday morning, Gartner says that by 2015 shipments of tablets will outstrip those of conventional PCs such as desktops and notebooks, as Android and Apple’s iOS become increasingly dominant in the overall operating system picture… Latest figures suggest that Windows Phone, its smartphone OS, shipped on about 3% of devices in fourth quarter of 2012, compared to 20% for Apple’s iPhone and over 70% for Android – of which 50% connected to Google’s servers and 20% were ‘white box’ Android phones in China which do not use Google services.”

“Microsoft could then face the vicious circle where developers considering which platform to develop apps for look at those with the largest user base – and that that will not be Windows. By 2017, she says, the number of devices being shipped with iOS, both iPhones and iPads, will be close to that with Windows and Windows Phone combined,” Arthur reports. “‘And that’s not assuming that Apple launches a low-end iPhone,’ Milanesi says. ‘Our numbers for Apple are conservative, because for a low-end phone it would be a guess about what price point it would use, and what the timing would be.’ A number of observers have suggested that Apple will launch a lower-cost iPhone in the next year to capture a larger market share, especially in the pre-pay (pay-as-you-go) market.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Can’t happen soon enough! 🙂


      1. Those engineers and programmers out of work can be retrained to develop really great Apple software right about the time that Boeing develops porcine aviation and the devil takes up ice skating.

    1. It’s old news to us, because we have been watching the decline of Microsoft for quite a few years. It took a way too long for Gartner to recognize a trend that started before the release of Vista and accelerated rapidly after the release of the iPad. I won’t be depending upon Gartner for accurate and up-to-date industry trending analyses…

      In addition, Gartner’s estimates of future Android marketshare are dubious, at best.

  1. Nothing really new here, but coming from Gartner. Typically conservative with their estimates, it should begin the ball rolling with parts of the media that Microsoft’s long-term outlook is bleak at best. Of course they are a huge company, so they aren’t going anywhere. They will become by far the largest, yet irrelevant company on the planet.
    One huge flaw in the report is that developers will use market size to decide what platform to develop on. While that indicator is one point to consider we all know that money talks. Today android has a huge market share lead, but all reports still show iOS as the platform that makes almost all the money in the market.

    1. lecube, you sort of mention it (market share vs. money made), and the Gartner report doesn’t refer it at all.
      I would wager that when Android market share is broken down into its variants, there is not a single version of “Android” that is a market leader. I’ll guess that Apple takes that crown with iOS.

      Somebody help me out here?
      Is there any data that shows each version of Android and its place in global marketshare?


    Microsoft have done really well with Xbox 360, and beaten Sony (by most sensible measures) this generation.

    However, Sony have announced PS4 which is looking good to many people, including Xbox 360 owners, and the rumors about the NextBox such as blocking used-game sales are fuelling speculation that Microsoft are about to drop the ball on their shift to next generation.

    Also, my 2¢ for the console’s name is Xbox 8

      1. If, or WHEN? Office is over priced, especially given the alternatives. I’ve been office free for years and am not missing a thing. The nail that will seal M$ fate is the lack of support for iPad. The iPad is redefining the way I work. A lot of my stuff starts on the iPad and moves to traditional computers. Soulman has created a strong one-two punch for document creators. Office is on its way to becoming irrelevant.

      1. Nah nothing yet has beaten the home console at the one thing they do well at, games.

        Every other device suffers the same problems the PC has when it comes to games and that is the issue of different hardware combos and game controls being second to other functionality.

        Consoles will be with us for a long time I bet.

    1. Microsoft has done lousy with game consoles. So what, they’re beating Sony. Without Microsoft’s deep pockets, any other mfr would have bailed out of the business long ago. The ROI is still negative, as they haven’t recovered their initial investment costs.

      1. @KenC Only if you include the original Xbox, which was years ago, considering just the Xbox 360 that broke-even years ago and is quite profitable.

        However, as others point out games consoles and ‘entertainment’ via downloads and streaming movies and TV is tiny beer compared to Windows and Office but it does have quite a lot of mindshare is quite wide demographics.

        My point was, it’s looking like they might screw that up too.

        1. The problem Microsoft faces with Xbox is that gaming is all about the game titles, not the hardware and certainly not the OS, which is where Microsoft makes its money. All that needs to happen for Microsoft to lose any possibility of making money on Xbox is for a competitor to come out with a few exclusive hit games on its platform (either something like PS4 or like an AppleTV gaming system) and Microsoft is finished in the gaming arena.

  3. Microsoft is almost at the point where I would like to see them start to do something good again.
    Key word here “almost”.
    Ballmer and their delusional ego will of course have to be jettisoned well before that starts to happen.

    1. That’s pretty amazing. Since 2008 BofA has had a Buy rating on MSFT. I wonder how that’s been working out for them. Good bunch of analysts over there.

  4. Wishful thinking won’t make it so. You might as well predict that huge semi tractor-trailers will disappear from roads as more and more consumers choose small cars.

    The electronic world does no run exclusively on ARM chips. We will always need high-performance processors, and Windows remains the 90% market share holder for Intel/AMD chip machines.

    If Cook would get off his ass and promote Mac hardware and software more aggressively, then maybe Windows will indeed die. Sadly, Cook isn’t doing so. He’s still trying to sell iWork ’09.

  5. It’ll take another 100 years at least before Microsoft falls into irrelevance. As long as there are companies, governments and corporate entities, there will be a Microsoft. That will never go away. Right there that’s Ballmer’s Thousand Year Reich.

    Heil Ballmer!

    1. Maybe. Or the company could dwindle to almost nothing…and still hang around to do gimcrackery business. Spotlight on Jedediah’s Buggy Whip Repair (since 1853) in Nebraska. Still in business! At a park last summer, I saw kids having fun in buggies drawn by miniature horses, and sure enough, the buggy whips were there, at least for show. It made me think—almost wistfully—about Steve Ballmer and his own kids.


      Steve has shown signs of CEO pathology strangely similar to those of Jim Balsillie (formerly chief of drain-circling RIM/Blackberry), including erratic behavior and irrational statements, and extending even to attempting to buy a sports franchise (basketball for Steve, hockey for Jim). There may be an amusing analogy or two in there.

    2. Funny. 25 years ago, people were saying the same about IBM.

      Yes, IBM.

      International Business Machines. They made the dominant computers for companies, governments and corporate entities.

  6. Microsoft won’t go away, but it is certain they will be a much smaller company. As for relevance, it is possible that they will end up just being a patent holding company, which already provides them with several billion a year now just collecting royalties from Android handset makers. So it won’t be a bad sunset for them – as long as Ballmer remains CEO. As MDN says, As Long As It Takes!

    Let me know when to break out the champagne…

  7. “One huge flaw in the report is that developers will use market size to decide what platform to develop on. While that indicator is one point to consider we all know that money talks. Today android has a huge market share lead, but all reports still show iOS as the platform that makes almost all the money in the market.”

    I think people (developers) have already learned that fragmentation is not good for consistent development. And corperate business models/users are very concerned about long term dependability. The Android is showing that it is not a dependable large scale OS. Stability is a necessity for solid business invertment. Apple has done its homework in building a solid, stable work environment moble OS.

    1. (Part of the cut and paste was left out of the above. )

      With the mobile OS becoming more powerful, desktops and laptops will have less and less need in companies and in the consumer world. MS placed its bets on the its sinking desktop platform mentality for too long.

    1. I went Microsoft-Free two decades ago. They have been the chain that has kept the computer community imprisoned in The Dark Age Of Computing. The sooner Microsoft dies, the sooner we can progress into the computer golden age. That shall be marvelous. 😀

      1. Like my wife says no matter how much she loves our imac and iphones and our ipad when she is working anywhere everyone still uses Office and windows. Not everyone but its still a vast majority. And really apple never plays to the business community. Business customers are not looking for high end fancy hardware they just buy the cheapest thing they can get.

        So on the consumer front yes Apple is winning and android is also smashing windows. More people know about android phones then windows phones. However on the business front its still MS till Apple steps up or maybe umbuntu or something

        1. I always get a chill when I think of businesses buying the “cheapest thing they can find.” That’s self-destructive behavior. Obviously, the result has consistently been:

          – Lower efficiency of work
          – Lower quality of work
          – Higher Cost of Ownership (COO) for the junk they bought.
          – Lower Return on Investment (ROI) for the junk they bought.
          – Infamously, exponentially poorer security.
          – etc.

          It kind of makes our resulting current era of self-destructive biznizz a no brainer, in more than one way.

          Why are idiots allowed to lead? Seriously. Who puts these morons in charge?

          1. Its sad that Companies are like this but so many people have the mind set that a dell or HP is cheaper then APple. Sure your upfront cost might be but your long term cost will not be. And of course IT guys will say get a PC becuase if they get a MAC then they are out of a job

            1. Oh, you weren’t being funny! I thought you were making a point about the technological competence of typical IT biznizz ‘professionals’. Inadvertently, you brought up an excellent point of biznizz cynicism which I found most useful for snarkiness purposes.

              I make typo blunders here every day! Apologies.

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