Analyst: Windows Phone to Overtake iPhone by 2016

IDC predicts that Windows Phone will surpass iPhone sales in four years; Android still out front.

Android and iPhone are the two dominant smartphones in the market -- for now. Analyst firm IDC is predicting that by 2016, Windows Phone will surge into second place, displacing the iPhone behind Android.

IDC's prediction is undoubtedly good news for Microsoft, which continues to look up at its main competition in the smartphone space -- way up. The numbers for 2012 place Windows Phone dead last among the four listed mobile OSes, at 5.2 percent.

IDC expects that number to jump to 19.2 percent in four years, barely edging out iOS -- the operating system behind the iPhone and iPad -- at 19 percent. That would represent a slight drop for iOS, which currently has 20.5 percent of the market share, according to IDC. Android, currently the king at 61 percent share, would dip from 61 percent to 52.9 percent over the same period, if the figures hold.

Much of the bump in Window's Phone's potential fortunes has to do with its partnership with Nokia, which dumped its Symbian OS for Microsoft's mobile offering. IDC said in a press release that both companies need to move fast to realize that future. "Clearly, Nokia and Microsoft need to quickly switch Symbian OS user allegiances to Windows Phone 7 in order to maintain relevancy in the smartphone race."

Even with the current relatively small sales figures for Windows Phone devices, the number of available apps continues to grow at a healthy rate. The site All About Windows Phone reported that the number of apps has crossed the has 100,000 threshold, an important psychological milestone for both customers and developers.

Chart: Worldwide Top 5 Smartphone OS Market Share Forecast, 1Q 2012Description: Tags: Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

Apps are entering the Windows Phone Marketplace at a rate of 313 per day, the site said. And the rate is increasing. It took 14 months for the Marketplace to reach 50,000 apps, but just five months to double that number. The article noted that the 100,000-app mark was reached faster than Android, which took 24 months, and slightly slower than iPhone, which reached the milestone in 16 months.

Since smartphone sales are usually closely tied to the number of apps available for them, reaching 100,000 apps faster than Android could be harbinger of things to come for Windows Phone. Certainly, that's what Microsoft hopes.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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