IDC: Windows Phone will not surpass Apple’s iOS by 2018

According to a new mobile phone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, worldwide smartphone shipments will reach a total of nearly 1.3 billion units in 2014, representing an increase of 26.3% over 2013. Looking ahead, IDC expects 1.4 billion smartphones to be shipped worldwide in 2015 for a 12.2% year-over-year growth rate. Slower annual growth continues throughout the forecast with unit shipments approaching 1.9 billion units in 2018, resulting in a 9.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the 2014–2018 forecast period. Smartphone revenues reflect a starker picture, as they will be hard hit by the increasingly cutthroat nature of pricing, resulting in a 4.2% CAGR over the same forecast period.

“The impact of upstart Chinese players in the global market will be reflected in a race to the bottom when it comes to price. While premium phones aren’t going anywhere, we are seeing increasingly better specs in more affordable smartphones. Consumers no longer have to go with a top-of-the-line handset to guarantee decent hardware quality or experience,” said Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in a statement. “The biggest question now is how much lower can prices go?”

On a worldwide basis, smartphones are expected to have an average selling price (ASP) of US$297 worldwide in 2014, dropping to US$241 by 2018. Emerging markets like India will see much lower smartphone prices, as ASPs hit US$135 in 2014 and fall to US$102 by 2018. In contrast, ASPs in mature markets are not expected to change significantly and modestly higher shipment volumes will not drive up overall revenues as each generation of flagship phones shows less and less differentiation from its predecessors.

From an operating system perspective, Android devices will continue to drive shipment volumes while iOS devices drive revenues. By 2018, Android will control 80% of global smartphones shipped and 61% of revenues, while iOS will control only 13% of volumes and 34% of revenues. With Android volumes so dominant, it is no longer a possibility for new operating systems like Tizen and Firefox to compete on price alone – any underdog OS must bring a radically different appeal to gain any significant traction.

“As shipment volume slows, we expect greater attention to shift toward value trends,” said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phones team. “Apple’s approach with premium pricing ensures a growing portion of overall revenues despite its declining market share. Meanwhile, Android’s multi-faceted approach – with forked versions and low-cost Android One strategy – will produce mixed results, yet it allows deeper penetration into emerging markets. That can lead to additional pressure on its vendor partners, who will need to seek greater differentiation in terms of devices and experiences in the hyper-competitive smartphone market.”

Worldwide Smartphone Forecast by Shipments and Value, 2014 and 2018 (Shipments in millions of units and Value in US$ Million)

*Forecast data. Table Note: Values are calculated by multiplying the shipment volumes with the end-user average selling prices (ASPs). Figures may not be exact due to rounding.
IDC: Worldwide Smartphone Forecast by Shipments and Value, 2014 and 2018 (Shipments in millions of units and Value in US$ Million)

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, December 1, 2014

MacDailyNews Take: For reference, and so that you can assign a value to the predictions above, here are some of IDC’s previous forecasts:

IDC: Worldwide Smartphone Operating System 2011 and 2015 Market Share and 2011-2015 Compound Annual Growth Rate:
Worldwide Smartphone Operating System 2011 and 2015 Market Share and 2011-2015 Compound Annual Growth Rate
Note: Market share based on unit shipments.

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, June 10, 2011
IDC: Worldwide Smartphone Operating System 2012 and 2016 Market Share and 2012-2016 Compound Annual Growth Rate
IDC: Worldwide Smartphone Operating System 2012 and 2016 Market Share and 2012-2016 Compound Annual Growth Rate:

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, June 6, 2012

Related articles:
IDC: Windows Phone to surpass Apple’s iOS by 2016 – June 6, 2012
IDC: Windows Phone to surpass Apple’s iOS by 2015 – June 10, 2011

Why did IDC lowball Apple’s Mac sales by 9.7% last quarter? – October 23, 2014
IDC again undercounts Mac unit sales – October 9, 2014
IDC and Gartner numbers do not jibe with Apple’s double digit U.S. Mac growth – July 27, 2014
The danger of using bogus IDC marketshare predictions to erroneously declare ‘Apple is losing to Android’ – June 10, 2014
Exposing IDC’s, Gartner’s, and Strategy Analytics’ PC, phone and tablet data on Apple – November 16, 2013
Smashing Apple: Is Strategy Analytics in Samsung’s pocket? – August 3, 2013
Strategy Analytics claims Android now dominates tablet market – July 31, 2013
Gartner and IDC trumpet wildly incongruous Mac unit sales estimates – April 11, 2013
Canalys unafraid to count iPad, puts Apple third in worldwide PC market share – January 26, 2011


  1. Aren’t these the same morons who predicted Windows Phone will surpass iOS by NEXT year? How’s that one going…? 🙂

    This time, it’s Android, the “platform” that is so fragmented, it should not be considered ONE platform for any useful purpose.

    1. I’m retired and make 90+% of my retirement income by self-directing my investment portfolio. Its important that I know what is happening in the marketplace.
      I can unequivocally state that none of the “research” firms that publish market share data, know crap about the markets they cover. Their aggregate error rate amounts to throwing darts from 50 feet away.

      1. It would be one thing to be clueless and wrong. IDC is clearly “intentionally wrong,” to promote an “agenda”…

        Their 2011 prediction about Windows Phone in 2015 is laughable. Over 20% by 2015? NO ONE believed that would happen. At the start of 2015, the actual number will be closer to 2%, DOWN from about 4% actual in 2011. Yet, in 2018, it will be 5.6%? The trend suggests ZERO percent is more likely (and Windows Phone will be gone as a platform by then).

      1. Don’t count on that. If they see any clouds in the sky they’ll be predicting a high chance of rain. These people have a knee-jerk way of thinking. I’d love to have seen their prediction of the future when Nokia held major feature-phone market share. They probably figured no company would break Nokia’s hold for the next ten years. However, Nokia fell fast and hard and they never saw it coming. Same with RIM and the BlackBerry. A lock in the corporations for the next ten years and no one else stood a chance.

        Trying to predict the future is a waste of time. There are simply too many variables to get an accurate prediction the further out you go.

  2. as others have pointed out IDC has been grossly wrong with Apple for a long time. Example year after year they predict shrinking mac sales vs the reality of quarter after quarter of sales exceeding the market rate.

    from the excerpt IDC talks about ‘revenues’ but not profits (the stuff you can actually bank) . You can have big revenues but no profit or even losses (e.g the car companies during the recession ). For PROFITS iPhone already take 80+ % of the smartphone market. Android phone makers like HTC frequently have money losing quarters vs Apple’s billions in profit.

    1. IDC has been wrong against apple on purpose. They make no bones about the fact that they will make there surveys match there customers products to give the a favorable review.
      In layman’s terms that means they will lie and skew the results of there surveys to make anyone that pays them look good no matter how bad there doing and make everyone else look bad.
      The are worthless in there results and have the worst track record next to gartner when it comes to being accurate.

  3. IDC doesn’t really have a horse in this race. The problem is in their methodology, though. It is much too simple and doesn’t take into account various factors. The numbers they provided three years ago could have been easily justified by their methodology, as much as they made no sense to us who know better. Over the past three years, the trends for Windows mobile are now clearly showing that the original projections didn’t work.

    1. Their “methodology” has been to get paid by Microsoft, for “projecting” that Windows Phone will be a key player “in just a few years,” to make that platform a more viable choice to enterprise customers. That “horse” is now too lame to make any kind of “justification” believable, so they turn to the Android. Unfortunately (for IDC), you are right (about having no “horse in this race”)… It’s much more difficult to milk a fragmented platform that has no central leadership or control. The Android “collective” doesn’t really care what IDC says.

      1. The only life left in the dead horse they are flogging is the movement they see under the skin caused by the maggots feeding on the carcass. . . yet they’ll keep on flogging away, claiming that if they only flog hard enough, and yell “Giddy-yup!” loud enough, it will cross the finish line!

    1. They are merely corrupt opportunists funded through an underhanded system of payoffs, reinforced by public perception of market forces. At some point their charade must end, not because their predictions are worthless but because the big hog has come out of the trough and everyone can smell it.

  4. I don’t believe IDC’s predictions either as with the release of the iPhone 6 and Plus, the market is shaping up to look like the iPod/Zune war a few years back. Except this time Microsoft is pretty much MIA.

  5. These people at IDC only follow the theory that cheaper products always win biggest market share. I’m guessing IDC thinks Windows Phone will be winning big in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Winning market share could be winning a booby prize if a company is only going to try to undercut rivals in price. When market share goes up and revenues go down I’d certainly consider that a huge financial problem.

    I’d think at some point there would be a lot of players pulling out of the smartphone business. Sony is taking smartphone losses and HTC has been taking losses for quite a while. Why would companies simply continue to throw money away on a lost cause? Because Apple has so much cash in reserve, it just makes sense Apple will be the last man standing in any economic crunch. Microsoft has plenty of money to burn to stay in the smartphone business to gain market share, but to what end. It will be a dogfight of Android vs. Windows Phone with both going down in flames over a price war.

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