IDC Predicts Windows Phone 7 Smartphones To Outsell Apple By 2015

Android operating system OS

The worldwide market for smartphones will grow 49.2 percent in 2011 as more consumers replace their older feature phones for smartphones, IDC predicts, with manufacturers shipping more than 450 million smartphones this year compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010.

Android-based devices, which will account for 39.5 percent of this year's smartphone operating system market, will own 45.4 percent of the market by 2015, according to IDC. That represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.8 percent in the number of shipped units.

Devices based on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 mobile OS, which the software giant began shipping last fall, along with the company's older Windows Mobile software, will account for 20.9 percent of the smartphone OS market in 2015, according to the IDC report. That's up from the 5.5 percent market share the Microsoft mobile operating system will record this year, reflecting a 67.1 percent CAGR in shipped units.

Microsoft has lagged competitors Apple and Google as it has struggled to break into the smartphone market. The company has a lot riding on Windows Phone 7: In late January Microsoft executives said manufacturers had shipped 2 million Windows Phone 7-based smartphones since its October 2010 launch. But the company hasn't provided updated numbers since then.

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The share of devices based on Apple's iOS, which will account for 15.7 percent of this year's smartphone market, will actually decline a bit to 15.3 percent in 2015, IDC predicted.

Last month Nokia and Microsoft unveiled a broad strategic alliance under which the two companies will develop a new mobile device ecosystem based on Microsoft's Windows Phone software to compete against rivals Apple and Google.

The IDC report suggested the Microsoft-Nokia alliance, which "brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform," would account for a significant part of Windows Phone 7's growth.

The market share of Nokia's aging Symbian mobile operating system will drop from 20.9 percent this year to 0.2 percent in 2015, according to the report, while the share held by Research In Motion's BlackBerry will decrease slightly from 14.9 percent this year to 13.7 percent by 2015.