Gartner recently released a smart phone market forecast, which looks at prior and predicted market share fluctuations from 2007 to 2013. I found some very interesting, but quite explainable predictions. I recommend taking a look at it yourself, but here are a few teasers.
The overall market has grown ~1.5x in 2 years and is expected to grow ~3.6x over the next 4 years. The ratio of consumer-to-business phones wavers, but remains about 3:1 throughout the assessed time frame.
Gartner predicts Android quadrupling its market over the next 4 years, ending up #2 in the market. This is likely due to the open nature of the platform. While I agree with a large growth, 4x isn't quite what I'd expect. Seeing this, you're likely to suspect other big changes, too. I think you'll be surprised with Gartner's numbers, tho.
Blackberry is estimated to steadily decline over the coming years, ultimately dropping 6% from their current standing. From #3 in 2007 to #2 in 2008 thru 2010 to #4 in 2013. A thought-provoking rise and decline, but it shows how Blackberry isn't quite the innovator they'd like to be.
For what most believe is the golden child of the mobile market, Gartner doesn't have much faith in the iPhone platform. iPhone tripled its market share from 2007 to 2008, then grew 50% in 2009. Most would think this would continue to shoot up over the coming years, but Gartner begs to differ. Gartner predicts only minor growth year over year thru 2013. They foresee a 10% growth by next year, virtually no growth the next, and a very trivial 1% growth in 2013. From here on out, the iPhone is expected to remain a #3 player thru 2013. Apple brought an interesting player to the market a few years back, but Gartner seems to believe that's where their innovation stops. I was very surprised to see the dwindling growth.
Given the fact that we know Symbian is #1 today and we've already covered the #2, #3, and #4 players, you might expect to see Symbian in the #1 spot. Well... you'd be right. Gartner sees Symbian maintaining their place, but I speculate this isn't -- nor has it been -- due to superior innovation in the market. It's only a matter of time before other players take over. I suspect (not Gartner) they'll drop to #2 by 2016 as other players drive advancements.
The road has been long and rocky for Palm, as we all know. WebOS seems like a last ditch effort to maintain a place in the mobile market. Gartner predicts they'll double their market share in 2010, but that's about the only success they'll see, as they slowly lose market share.
Gartner shows Windows Mobile steadily dropping from 2007 to 2010. That's no surprise, given all we've heard. With a mid-2010 release of Windows Mobile 7 -- Microsoft's response to the iPhone -- it's no surprise we won't see a spike until 2011, when Windows Mobile jumps up 15%. Gartner doesn't have faith that this will be good enough, tho, as they foresee market share dropping a little more than half a percent below their current share. While Microsoft isn't talking about Windows Mobile 8, they'll have to deliver it in relatively short order, if they want to show the market they mean business. I have faith this will happen by 2013. In fact, I'm hopeful that we'll see some major enhancements and mergers between Zune and Windows Mobile in the same time frame. My gut tells me we'll see this by 2012. It won't be until then that people truly see what Microsoft is capable of.
Linux, Maemo, and others are also included in the study. I'm not familiar with any serious Linux competitors other than Android, but they've lost 50% of their market share in the last 2 years and are presumed to continue to drop, eventually giving Palm some competition for the least amount of share by "major" competitors... if you consider Linux a major competitor. I have to say I was surprised by Maemo, which I don't think I've heard much about. It's a Linux-based tablet OS Nokia developed and subsequently brought -- or, at least, is bringing -- to the smart phone market. I liken this to the opposite of Google's Android-to-Chrome OS move. With a 2009 initial showing, Gartner surprisingly predicts Maemo shooting up to 6.5% by 2013. Very interesting; unlike other players, who drop from 1.1% in 2007 to less than .1% by 2013.
If you ask me, Microsoft should seriously consider buying RIM. Right now, they're #2 and #4, but Microsoft stands to gain a tremendous amount from the corporate presence Blackbery currently holds. With what's expected to come in Windows Mobile 7, this would also give Blackberry users a very nice glimmer of hope around what I speculate will be a very nice mobile OS. Now isn't the time, of course. Given Gartner's insights, I'd say 2011 would be the best time to drive such an acquisition, hopefully showing value for Blackberry users in the Windows Mobile 8 time frame.
Short of a Microsoft/RIM acquisition, somebody needs to buy Palm for Palm's sake. Given my newly-acquired knowledge of Maemo, I have to say Nokia should seriously consider it. I was initially thinking RIM should give it a thought, but I don't see them having much to gain. Maemo and WebOS both have a lot in common. A merger could go a long way... not that Nokia needs Palm. The Palm-ers could definitely use some Nokia love, tho.
The last thing I should mention is that most of this is speculation on my part. Gartner provided the numbers -- aside from my Symbian 2016 and Windows Mobile 2012/13 comments. I wholly recommend you look at Gartner's numbers and other mobile studies they have to fully understand what they're thinking and why they made these forecasts.