Long-term forecasting in the technology industry isn’t easy, as we’ve documented in the past, and it’s especially difficult in a market as volatile as smartphones. The latest evidence: The IDC research firm has significantly reduced its long-term forecast for Microsoft’s Windows Phone.

IDC now says it expects Windows Phone to post 11.4 percent market share in 2016, in third place behind Android (63.8 percent) and iOS (19.1 percent).

That compares to IDC’s original prediction (issued in early 2011) that Microsoft would achieve 20 percent market share by 2015, more than 3 percentage points ahead of Apple. In a follow-up report, the firm had reduced that to 19.2 percent by 2016, still showing Microsoft barely edging out Apple at that point.

Here’s what IDC says about Windows Phone’s prospects in its latest report.

“Windows Phone will battle with BlackBerry for the number three spot in 2013, but will gain further clarity in the years that follow. Windows Phone will build on the progress it made in 2012, with Nokia establishing its presence and HTC solidly jumping back into the race. Moreover, contributions by Samsung, ZTE, and Huawei will help grow its footprint. With more vendors releasing more devices aimed at multiple segments, sales associates will be better positioned to tell a compelling Windows Phone story and to explain the value of Windows Phone’s differentiated experience compared to market leaders Android and iOS.”

And here’s the firm’s chart showing current numbers and its new long-term forecast. 

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  • Guest

    And yet people are somehow surprised by this revised forecast. 11.4% by 2016 is still laughable.

  • http://twitter.com/TweetingAC Andrew

    Predicting smartphone market share four years in the future always makes me chuckle. Todd, in your opinion what is the purpose of these relatively long term forecasts which are subject to such revisions?

    Four years from now I think the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, and Green Bay Packers will be the top three teams likely to win the Superbowl but I’ll change my opinion every 6 months based on current trends.

    The player I’m most excited to watch in 2013 is Blackberry 10.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    Setting aside any specifics around Windows Phone (or any maker), I don’t know how you can look at this and not conclude that they’re just making stuff up.

    They essentially chopped a previous “prediction” in half and moved it out another year.

    Does anyone have what their 2012 predictions were? I’d love to see how laughably off base they are.

    And anyone at IDC reading this: I would be happy to make up numbers like this and do it for half of what you’re paying right now. Heck, I’ll even throw in some zany curveballs to increase pickup (“In 2016, our Robotic Galactic Overlords will return and 75% of them will Android phones to control us.”).

    • Guest

      “In 2016, our Robotic Galactic Overlords will return and 75% of them will Android phones to control us.”

      That’s actually not that far fetched. You think the name “Android” is complete coincidence?! I think not. (a conspiracy makes it more plausible)

      • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

        Indeed, that’s why I picked it and not iPhone :).

  • GeekWire Fan

    There is really no way to logically predict or conclude that Windows Phone will increase in marketshare until it starts selling more unit per month than Android and iPhones. And currently Windows Phone is selling far less. The day, if and when it actually happens, that Windows Phone starts outselling Android and/or iPhones, then it would be logical to project a gain in marketshare. As now now, Windows Phone is rapidly losing marketshare selling many times less units per month than iPhone and Android.

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