June 6, 2012 at 1:28 PM ET
In a surprising report released Wednesday, the International Data Corporation (IDC) is estimating that Windows Phone will overtake the Apple iPhone by 2016, becoming the second most popular mobile operating system under Google’s Android. Despite Windows Phone’s slow start, the IDC cites Nokia’s foothold in emerging markets as rationale for their prediction.
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
According to the IDC, Windows Phone’s market share is expected to increase from 5.2 percent in 2012 to 19.2 percent by 2016, while iOS drops from 20.5 percent to 19 percent. The IDC also predicts 2012 will be the peak of Android’s market share and while they remain the market leader, their share will fall from 60 percent in 2012 to 52.9 percent by 2016.
Nokia holds strong in emerging markets and its partnership with Microsoft has the potential for rapid growth of Windows Phone. Microsoft, however, has a lot of work ahead to fulfill this prediction. It has entered the smartphone market much later than main competitors iOS and Android and have experienced slow sales thus far.
The IDC admits that much of Windows Phone’s growth depends on the adoption by users leaving the Symbian operating system. Symbian-powered smartphone shipments are predicted to “all but cease” by 2014, meaning that Microsoft and Nokia need to act fast in order to gain those users and overtake the iOS market share. Without the allegiance of previous Symbian OS users, Windows Phone may find it difficult to “maintain relevancy” in the smartphone market.
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