Has Microsoft Phone moved into a coveted though distant third place for smartphone platforms behind Google's Android and Apple's iOS? A new report from IDC says it has.
IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker found that Android and iOS took an overwhelming combined 92.3 percent of all smartphone shipments in the first quarter, a huge increase of 59.1 percent over the same quarter last year. Separately, Android took 75 percent and iOS 17.3 percent.
Windows Phone, for the first time in IDC's reports, took third place with 3.2 percent, barely ahead of the BlackBerry OS, which had 2.9 percent. This compares with 2 percent for Windows Phone in Q1 of 2012, and what had been a more substantial 6.4 percent for BlackBerry. In January of this year, BlackBerry released its new BlackBerry 10 platform.
Rounding out the top half dozen platforms, Linux had 1 percent and the dying Symbian, which posted 6.8 percent in first quarter of last year, now has 0.6 percent.
We asked Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Mobile Phone team, if the Windows Phone showing in this report appeared to be just a blip, or if seemed to be a forward motion that could continue to keep Microsoft in third place.
He replied that he sees this "as forward motion" and not a blip, and the reason is Nokia. We can see now, Llamas said, "how serious they are and how serious their carrier partners are," as evidenced by their evangelizing, marketing, and steady stream of new Windows phones. Llamas said "it takes some time" to launch a new platform, and Nokia's efforts are now bearing fruit.
While other manufacturers have released Windows Phone devices, Microsoft's partnership with Nokia is the key to whether the smartphone platform succeeds. Nokia's devices accounted for 79 percent of Windows Phone shipments during Q1.
Samsung once again is the smartphone leader, representing 41.1 percent market share of all smartphone shipments. Apple's Q1 was its "largest ever first-quarter volume" of iPhone shipments, even though there was a year-over-year decline in market share because of the growing overall smartphone market.
The report noted that the platform may get a boost whenever iOS 7 launches, given rumors of a "massive overhaul of the user interface" and the fact that the iPhone's user experience has remained largely the same since its launch in 2007.
Windows Phone's key competitor for third place is BlackBerry, which has reported sellouts for its Q10 BlackBerry phone in Canada and the U.K. The IDC report pointed out that the company experienced "double-digit declines" in the first quarter compared with a year ago, but said "this masks the progress that the company has made since then."
The quarter was the first one when BB10 devices were available, during which a million BB10 devices were shipped. This represents "a significant breakthrough" for the company, IDC said, even though most of its shipment volume in the quarter was still the lower-priced BB7 smartphones.
But stay tuned. Several Linux-based, open-source mobile platforms are being introduced later this year, including Firefox, Sailfish, Tizen and Ubuntu.