Saturday, June 11, 2011

Nokia Deal Could Make Phone 7 No. 2 in World Market


IDC is predicting that Microsoft's deal with Nokia to use Windows Phone 7 could make that operating system number two in the global market by 2015. In IDC's vision, Android would hold 43.8 percent of the market, Phone 7 20.5 percent, and BlackBerry 13.4 percent. Nokia has strong leadership outside the U.S. Nokia has denied rumors of a takeover.

If a research group's reading of the tea leaves is correct, time is on Microsoft's side in the fast-changing smartphone Relevant Products/Services market.

Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts the software Relevant Products/Services giant's Windows Phone 7 will be the second most popular mobile Relevant Products/Services operating system in the world by 2015 with 20.5 percent of the market after Google Relevant Products/Services's Android, which would dominate with 43.8 percent.

Replacing Symbian

That would be a huge boost from the measly 3.8 percent forecast for this year by IDC. The growth would largely come at the expense of Nokia's declining Symbian platform, which will be gradually replaced with Phone 7 in a deal between Microsoft and the Finnish phone manufacturer announced earlier this year.

Symbian would shrink from 20.6 percent this year to an abysmal 0.1 percent in that analysis, while other major platforms would decline less -- 14.2 percent to 13.4 percent for Research In Motion's BlackBerry and 18.2 percent to 16.9 percent for Apple's iOS, which is currently number two. The only other system to grow in this time frame would be Google's Android, from 38.9 percent to 43.8 percent.

Android's open-source operating system is available on a wide range of devices offered by all major wireless carriers. Microsoft has similar designs for Phone 7, with handsets made by Acer, Fujitsu and ZTE expected to join the current slate of Dell, HTC, Samsung and LG smartphones.

"If you take a look at the devices coming out for 2012 and the anticipated cadence of device Relevant Products/Services releases, it helps push their numbers up," said IDC wireless industry analyst Ramon Llamas, citing conversations with Microsoft and Nokia officials.

He acknowledged that both Nokia and Microsoft have "a pretty low profile" in the important U.S. smartphone market, but in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia/Pacific region, "Nokia has out-and-out leadership across those regions' smartphone business Relevant Products/Services, which gives us that much more to hang our hat on" in making predictions.

Nokia Denies Sale Rumors

The updated numbers from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker come as rumors swirl about a possible takeover of Nokia, whose profits have been slipping, by either Microsoft or Samsung.

Llamas said he accepts the word of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop -- a former Microsoft exec who made the deal to replace Symbian with Windows Phone 7 on most Nokia devices -- that the company is not for sale.

To get ahead in the U.S., Microsoft will need to generate more enthusiasm among carriers and customers. A PC Relevant Products/Services magazine report Friday said that at retail outlets of the four major carriers in Manhattan, Windows Phone 7 devices were in short supply Relevant Products/Services and salespeople were blasé about them.

A Verizon Wireless employee Relevant Products/Services told the magazine that "one out of 500 customers comes in here asking for a Windows phone."

Nokia is expected to ship its first Phone 7 devices, complete with the system's Mango update, later this year.

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