Android may falter if Microsoft, Apple strategies pay off

Analyst house IDC has suggested that the Android smartphone and tablet operating system's market share is on the verge of peaking this year, and will begin to decline.

smartphones.jpgAnalyst house IDC has suggested that the Android smartphone and tablet operating system's marketshare is on the verge of peaking this year, and will begin to decline.

In its latest quarterly research on the state of the mobile phone market, IDC said that Android would maintain its commanding leadership for at least the next five years.

However, it reported, Android's success was becoming more dependent on Samsung handsets in the same way that Apple's iOS lives or dies on the success of the iPhone, and there may be a chance for other operating systems to shine.

Apple's iOS will continue its impressive run, although thanks to its large installed base this growth will moderate in developed markets and become more dependent on emerging markets.

The same is true of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile OS, said IDC, which will gain share, helped by transitioning feature phone users in emerging markets, assuming they stick with Nokia handsets.

Currently, IDC reckons Android holds 61% of the market to iOS' 20.5% and Windows' 5.2%. However by 2016 Android will decline to 52.9%, iOS will slide to 19% and Windows will grow to 19.2%.

"What remains to be seen," said IDC Mobile Phone Technology and Trends Team senior research analyst Ramon Llamas, "is how these different operating systems will define and shape the user experience beyond what we see today in order to attract new customers and encourage replacements."

There was more good news for Apple from Context, which suggested that following the launch of the new iPad, Apple's decision to cut the price of the iPad 2 and keep it on as an 'entry-level' device was paying dividends, with sales increasing by 3% during March and April.

Since its launch, sales of the new iPad have accounted for just 65% of total iPad sales through the western European channel.

"Keeping the iPad 2 in Apple's product lineup at a lower price was intended to fend off potential Android competition," said Context enterprise analyst Senthuran Premakumar. "Recent figures confirm that Apple's strategy is paying off.

"Consumers uneasy about spending on a premium tablet are increasingly opting for Apple's more entry-level device, strengthening the company's dominance in the tablet market."

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