The whole idea stems from the Nokia deal and patterns of buying behavior. There is not enough data—none, in fact—on the pick-up sales created by the Microsoft-Nokia deal, so this prediction is completely off-the-wall and seems based more on current Symbian numbers than actual sales. There is one conceivable underlying assertion, and that’s that Phone 7 is better, by far, than Symbian, and if Symbian is still hanging in there (it is), then Phone 7 should do as well or better.
So logically, this is not a real stretch.
The way IDC sees all this is as follows (all predicted for 2015): Android will be number one with 45.4 percent market share, next will be Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile with 20.9 percent, and will be followed by Apple’s iPhone with 15.3 percent.. Taking up the rear will be BlackBerry with 13.7 percent, “Others” with 4.6 percent, and then Symbian with 0.2 percent.
This list assumes a lack of consolidation. Anyone who has read my thoughts on the issue knows that I expect the smartphone OSs to consolidate in much the same way that the PC OS business consolidated into two camps, PC and Mac. The smartphone market will logically consolidate into the same basic model. This time, the finally two will be Android and iOS.
This will happen largely for the same reason that the PC/Mac duopoly consolidated and that reason is developer support. People like to buy into a platform that has a lot of developer support, and developers only support what is popular, which is determined by developer support, and it goes round and round.
This crazy cycle cannot be easily broken by newcomers although it was done twice in recent memory in the gaming business by both Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox. These two were not even in the game when Sega and Nintendo were battling it out, and everyone said no newcomers could emerge.
But the gaming business is different enough from the PC or smartphone businesses to reject the possibility that a newcomer—Phone 7—could enter the game and becoming successful. And I say this knowing full well that Microsoft invented the category. Okay, to put some historical gaming business spin on it: Atari invented the video game and where is it now?
To summarize: the IDC report is rank speculation.
The one long shot possibility, the way I see it, is that Windows Phone 7 phones could become the low-end smartphones that replace all the so-called feature phones. We have to face the fact that eventually all phones will have no buttons and be based on the smartphone virtual keyboard concept, because at some point they will be much cheaper to make. We can call them software phones, since their operation will be all software.
The problem with Microsoft trying to take over the lower-end segment of the market is that Android and Apple could both drop down and do the same thing. In fact, the Android OS has “Car Home,” which presents the user with a simplified menu structure that is reminiscent of Phone 7 and can presumably be operated while driving.
But what is also overlooked in all this is that if all phones are going to become software-based, then there is zero reason not to push them to the max with more and more complex features. It’s just software after all.
None of this bodes well, long-term, for Phone 7. It all seems like wishful thinking to me. But I wish them luck.