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Smartphone market up 55% in 2011; Windows Phone OS could be No. 2 by 2015, report says

June 10, 2011 |  6:15 pm

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The smartphone market worldwide could end up growing by 55% in 2011 as more consumers ditch other mobile phones for smartphones, and Windows Phone could be the second-most-popular operating system by 2015, according to a research group.

International Data Corp. said in its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report that about 472 million smartphones could ship to retailers in 2011, significantly outpacing an estimated 305 million shipped in 2010.

The research group also is predicting that smartphone shipments could nearly double to 982 million by the end of 2015.

The reasons for the rapid growth in the smartphone market, "which will grow more than four times the rate of the overall mobile phone market this year," include declining average smartphone prices, increased functionality and cheaper data plan options, which all make smartphones attractive and attainable to an increased number of consumers, IDC said in its report.

"The smartphone floodgates are open wide," Kevin Restivo, a senior research analyst at IDC, said in a statement. "Mobile phone users around the world are turning in their 'talk-and-text' devices for smartphones as these devices allow users to perform daily tasks like shopping and banking from anywhere."

Growth in the smartphone market is taking place worldwide, but is especially noticeable in emerging markets such as the Asia/Pacific and Latin American regions of the globe, which will only accelerate in coming years, Restivo said.

In a prediction that few other analysts probably would share, IDC said in its report that it expects Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system to account for as much as 20% of the smartphone market by 2015 largely because of its alliance with Nokia -- which so far has yet to produce a Windows Phone 7 handset for consumers.

"Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile will benefit from Nokia's support, scope, and breadth within markets where Nokia has historically had a strong presence," IDC said.

Nokia isn't expected to begin producing a significant number of smartphones running Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS until 2012, which will result in Windows Phone remaining a small player in the market this year, and probably next year too.

"Nevertheless, assuming that Nokia's transition to Windows Phone goes smoothly, the OS is expected to defend a number 2 rank and more than 20% share in 2015," the group said.

IDC estimated that Windows Phone will end up with about a 3.8% share of the worldwide smartphone market at the end of this year.

The research firm also predicts that Google's Android OS will remain in first place, growing to more than 40% of the global smartphone market in the second half of 2011, and taking about a 43% share by 2015.

Apple's iOS platform is ranked third in IDC estimates and the firm is expecting that to remain all the way through 2015.

RELATED: 

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Microsoft CEO pitches Windows Phone at BlackBerry World

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: An HTC HD7 smartphone running Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system. Credit: Camknows via Flickr

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