Nokia’s Lumia 900 smartphone will help the former mobility giant regain much of its lost market share this year, but the new device may prompt an even larger comeback for Microsoft, according to report Thursday from market analysts IHS iSuppli.
The Lumia 900 will reportedly launch this March, running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5. The new Lumia smartphones, which also includes the lower-end Lumia 710 and Lumia 800, are the first non-Symbian Nokia devices to be offered by carriers in the U.S.
Nokia has recently moved away from its Symbian platform, which struggled to carve a space for itself within the mobile OS market. Nokia previously experimented with MeeGo, an open source mobile OS that it co-developed with Intel. However, Nokia ditched MeeGo when it signed a Windows Phone 7 partnership with Microsoft last year.
Traditionally, Windows Phone hasn’t met with much success either. In 2011, only 1.9 percent of smartphones ran on a Windows Phone OS while Google’s Android, comparatively, held 47.4 percent.
The anticipated success of Nokia’s Lumia 900, however, is expected to change all that, and ultimately thrust Microsoft to the number two seat with a market share of 16.7 percent by 2015. If IHS iSuppli’s projections prove true, that means in 2015 Windows Phone will beat out iOS, RIM, and all other mobile operating systems on the market, coming second only to Google’s Android.
According to the report, Microsoft’s climb to that number two spot will start almost immediately. Compared to the lackluster 1.9 percent Windows Phone held in 2011, the OS is expected to account for a significantly larger 9 percent in 2012, 15.3 percent in 2013, and 16.1 percent in 2014 – only two percentage points less than the 18 percent Apple’s iOS held last year.
"One of the hottest new products unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show was the Lumia 900, a Windows Phone-based smartphone sporting a flashy set of features that makes it competitive with the best alternatives offered by the Android camp," wrote Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS, in the report. "This hot product represents Nokia’s first step to reclaim its market share. Combined with Nokia’s efforts to drive the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem, the Lumia 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim its No. 2 ranking in smartphone operating system market share in 2015."
As Lam suggests, Nokia’s migration from its Symbian OS to Windows Phone will benefit not only Microsoft, but the smartphone maker as well. The Lumia 900’s 4.3-inch touch screen display and 12-megapixel camera will make it a strong contender in consumer markets, and its access to Microsoft’s robust business and enterprise sales channels will give it a leg up in the corporate world.
The Lumia 900 also supports the Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G standard, a feature that IHS iSuppli believes will stir up a particularly positive response within North America – a region the Finland-based Nokia doesn’t typically target.
Overall, though, IHS anticipates most of the Lumia 900’s brand-reviving success to fall onto Microsoft’s lap. As Nokia continues to build up the Windows Phone application "ecosystem" – a phrase that has come to determine a mobile device’s success more than the hardware itself – other vendors are sure to follow suit.
"Because of Nokia's support, apps developers will eagerly shore up the Windows platform," Lam explained. "This will cause other makers of Windows Phone devices, such as Samsung and HTC, to offer more products supporting the OS — further expanding the market."