It’s no secret that the tech landscape is continuing to shift towards a mobile environment as time goes by. Many companies are starting to concentrate on the mobile market to keep up with trends and the ever-growing presence of devices for use on-the-go. With various mobile operating platforms competing against each others, companies and developers must decide where they want to invest their time and money. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms are currently the kings, with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 lagging way behind. With that being said, is Windows Phone 7 really down for the count, or are there reasons to still keep faith? A recent article on Fierce Content Management listed a few characteristics that point to a decent future for Microsoft’s mobile platform, despite the current standings.
Global market intelligence firm IDC recently projected that Windows Phone 7 would hold a 3.8 percent share of the global smartphone market by the end of 2011. Such a statistic places it in a different stratosphere from iOS and Android, and has some analysts and developers questioning its future significance, if any, in the mobile arena. Although Windows Phone 7 does offer a user interface that is pleasing, it falls short in other areas that have prevented it from taking the market by storm. The lack of multitasking is one reason for its lack of success and a miniscule app catalog when compared to Apple’s App Store and the Android Marketplace is another. Still, IDC believes that Windows Phone 7 will be a major player in the future. The firm predicts that by 2015, the Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile platforms will shift to second place in the smartphone race with a 20 percent market share, surpassing iOS and trailing only Android. As unlikely as it may seem, there are various points that support such a prediction, and here they are:
The Microsoft/Nokia Partnership
When Microsoft announced that it would partner with Nokia at the beginning of this year, many took notice. Such a pairing between two industry giants is a strong one, and the companies pledged to combine their resources to create what was referred to as a “new global mobile ecosystem.” Nokia stated that Windows Phone would become its platform of choice. In doing so, Nokia would supply the newly formed partnership with expertise in the realm of hardware design, language support, and much more to increase Windows Phone’s exposure and aim for Android’s and iOS’ spots in the smartphone hierarchy.
Of course, it will take some time for the Microsoft/Nokia partnership to really show its strength in terms of market share statistics, as Nokia will not release its first batch of smartphones based on Windows 7 until next year. Regardless, the move is definitely a positive one, and it should cause Windows Phone 7’s market share to increase as consumers warm up to Microsoft’s mobile offerings.
A Smaller Pond for Developers
It’s true that the Windows Phone Marketplace pales in comparison to its Apple and Android counterparts. A quick look at last month’s numbers shows Apple’s App Store with a catalog of 425,000 apps, the Android Marketplace with 250,000, and the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace with just 30,000. At first glance, such statistics may look great for consumers looking for a wider variety of apps, but what about developers? With only 30,000 apps in Windows Phone 7’s catalog, developers have a better chance of making a splash. In addition to less competition, the approval process for Windows Phone 7 apps is shorter than that of Apple’s, which should attract developers as well.
Google’s Recent Move
As Microsoft makes its own power moves, such as the one with Nokia, the actions of its competitors are also helping to create shifts in the mobile market. Just last month, Google acquired Android partner Motorola Mobility to strengthen its mobile muscles. While the acquisition is certainly a step in the right direction for Google, it’s possible that it could push Samsung towards Windows Phone’s corner. Samsung already has an upcoming Windows tablet in the works, and the company’s Series 7 tablet has a special edition running on a pre-release version of Windows 8 that has made its way into the hands of developers.
Mango Update Soon to Come
Another reason for hope from the Microsoft camp is the upcoming release of its Mango update for Windows Phone 7. Microsoft’s mobile platform was released after Android and iOS, so it still has plenty of catching up to do. Its growing pains should be a thing of the past with Mango, as the update promises over 500 new improvements in the form of much-needed multitasking, an App Connect feature, and much more.
As you can see, the current state of Windows Phone 7 may not be ideal, but there are plenty of reasons for optimism. As the smartphone race heats up, it will be interesting to see where Microsoft stands in the future, and whether or not it can live up to some of its lofty projections.