Upsetting Apple’s cart
The global smartphone market is set to double in size by 2016 and Android will be a major driver, predicts telecoms analyst firm Ovum in a new smartphone forecast. Upsetting Apple's cart, it said Android will emerge as the dominant platform, representing 38% market share.
While Android overtook Apple in the smartphone OS race in the first quarter of 2011, Apple shook the market with its dominating profit figures. However, Android will lead in the long run, with shipments of of 251 million predicted by 2016.
Situated significantly below Android in 2016 by some 135 million units is Apple's iOS (116 million), followed by Windows Phone (114 million) and BlackBerry OS (109 million).
Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach said: "The success of the Android platform is being driven by the sheer number of hardware vendors supporting it at both the high and low ends of the market."
As a recent report by Berg insight suggests, although high-end devices tend to get most attention, the primary growth will come from medium- and low-end smartphones.
However, Leach also noted that there could be one other platform to achieve mainstream success within the forecast period. "This could be an existing player in the market such as Bada, WebOS, or MeeGo, or it could be a new entrant to the market place."
The report noted that Android will also benefit in the short term from the demise of Symbian. As the NokiaSoft deal signals the end of Symbian's market leadership, Ovum noted that there will be a significant reduction in shipments of Symbian-based handsets.
As Nokia still expects to ship 150 million Symbian-based handsets, Leach added that "we will therefore see Symbian-based handsets shipping beyond 2012 and in some regions into 2016. Consistent with our forecast, Nokia announced that it won't be until 2013 that a majority of its smartphone portfolio is based on Windows Phone."
The NokiaSoft deal also signals the end of Microsoft's previous play in the smartphone market with the enterprise-focused Windows Mobile. However, Ovum expects a quicker demise for Windows Mobile than for Symbian with minimal shipments expected beyond 2012.
Ovum also predicted that the smartphone market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.5% between 2010 and 2016. Echoing IDC analysts, Ovum forecast said Asia-Pacific will be the largest region, shipping just over 200 million units by 2016. Western Europe and North America will remain strong markets with 175 million and 165 million shipments respectively.