Windows Phone projected to claim just as much market share as iOS in 2016

IDC announced the results of their quarterly smartphone research today, and found that worldwide, Android claimed 61% of the pie, followed by iOS with 20.5%, BlackBerry with 6.0%, and Windows Phone with 5.2%. The real shocker is that IDC projected a drop in iOS market share to 19% by 2016, and forecasted Windows Phone would claim just about as much as Apple with a 19.2% share. As if it wasn't already hard enough to take their projections seriously, they think BlackBerry is only going to dip 0.1% in the same timeframe.

The overall mobile market has slowed in growth due to prevailing economic conditions. Feature phones will still comprise 61% of the 2012 mobile market, by IDC's tally, which more or less lines up with comScore's numbers for the U.S. Of course, smartphone growth it still strong, and IDC expects 38.8% more shipments since last year - something in the neighborhood of 686 million units shipped. IDC's Kevin Restivo had some commentary on what we could expect for the rest of the year.

The smartphone parade won’t be as lively this year as it has been in past. The mobile phone user transition from feature phones to smartphones will continue in a gradual but unabated fashion. Smartphone growth, however, will increasingly be driven by a triumvirate of smartphone operating systems, namely Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7.

Sure, Microsoft has certainly been taking the long view with their rebooted mobile platform, but IDC's predictions seem way too optimistic. Though they're going through all of the right motions with manufacturer, carrier, and developer partnerships, and have solid tie-ins with their PC and console businesses, it's still hard to imagine Windows Phone being as popular as iPhone in the foreseeable future. The iOS app ecosystem is way too strong at this point, and even if developers have the resources to split their efforts, why would they pick Windows Phone ahead of Android? Windows Phone is still really weak from a marketing standpoint, which in turn makes it unlikely that carriers will be pushing Windows Phone before Android any time soon. For hardware manufacturers, margins are still slim compared to iPhone, and having to pay for Windows licensing sure doesn't help.

What do you guys see happening in the next four years? Will BlackBerry still be a part of the picture? Will Android start losing its foothold? Can Windows Phone really claw itself into a position of prominence, and if so, what will iPhone need to do to stand its ground?

Chart: Worldwide Top 5 Smartphone OS Market Share Forecast, 1Q 2012Description: Tags: Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

Source: IDC