IDC fails to learn from previous mistakes, issues 2015 smartphone predictions

The stat guardians at IDC are among the most reliable sources for keeping track of the latest developments in the smartphone market, but we've got to say their forecasts haven't always benefited from the same accuracy. It's with this disclaimer that we present you the world of 2015 as seen through the IDC prism. In just four years' time, says the data, Windows Phone 7 (or whatever version it reaches by then) will have ascended to occupy a fifth of the market and second spot overall behind Android, whose leading position is expected to stabilize somewhere around the 45 percent mark. Apple and RIM are projected to hold steady with shares close to where they are today. It has to be humbling for the IDC, which predicted Symbian would continue to dominate all the way into 2013, to now have to foretell of its almost complete extinction (a mere 0.2 percent) and total irrelevance in the smartphone market. Alas, while the new prediction sounds very reasonable today, four years of unknown unknowns is a mighty long time to try and forecast through, and we have a feeling we'll be looking back and chuckling at this within a few short months -- probably (hopefully!) in the midst of a massive webOS revival.

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IDC Forecasts Worldwide Smartphone Market to Grow by Nearly 50% in 2011

29 Mar 2011

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. March 29, 2011 – The worldwide smartphone market is expected to grow 49.2% in 2011 as more consumers and enterprise users turn in their feature phones for smartphones with more advanced features. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011 compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010. Moreover, the smartphone market will grow more than four times faster than the overall mobile phone market.

"Overall market growth in 2010 was exceptional," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "Last year's high market growth was due in part to pent-up demand from a challenging 2009, when many buyers held off on mobile phone purchases. The expected market growth for 2011, while still notable, will taper off somewhat from what we saw in 2010."

To capture the strong consumer demand for smartphones, manufacturers have unleashed a steady stream of new models and features over the past two years. The battle for mind and market share has also resulted in stiff competition among the smartphone operating systems.

"Android is poised to take over as the leading smartphone operating system in 2011 after racing into the number 2 position in 2010," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team. "For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smartphone strategies, 2010 was the coming-out party. This year will see a coronation party as these same vendors broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers, particularly first-time smartphone users."

Nokia's recent announcement to shift from Symbian to Windows Phone will have significant implications for the smartphone market going forward. "Up until the launch of Windows Phone 7 last year, Microsoft has steadily lost market share while other operating systems have brought forth new and appealing experiences," added Llamas. "The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android."