The recent prediction by Pyramid Research that Windows Phone would become the dominant mobile OS in just four years surprised many industry watchers, several of whom argued with the forecast. In a new analyst note, the research firm explains its prognostication.
Pyramid's initial report asserted that by "2015, Windows Phone will establish itself as the leader in the smartphone OS space," thereby beating Android for the top spot. And the firm qualified that statement in its new note to reflect its belief that Microsoft's mobile OS will become the leader much sooner, as early as 2013.
With Android enjoying a huge lead among smartphone users, how can Pyramid point to Windows Phone as becoming the major player so quickly? As part of the answer, the research firm cites the new deal between Nokia and Microsoft.
Though Pyramid believes Android will continue to grow this year and next, it feels that the combination of Nokia and Microsoft will prove to be a powerful force in the industry within just a couple of years. Nokia will help to reduce the price of Windows Phone handsets, helping them expand in the marketplace, according to Pyramid. Beyond Nokia, other mobile phone makers, including Samsung, LG, and Sony Ericsson, are still in the Windows Phone camp.
As Windows Phone devices drop in price and spread out across multiple vendors, the multi-vendor approach currently benefiting Android will become less of a competitive advantage, Pyramid said in its note.
Pyramid doesn't deny that Nokia has lost market share, in part by sticking with Symbian for so long, but it sees the company as strong enough to ride out the current wave and learn from its mistakes.
"They are big enough and strong enough to take on a couple of painful hits and come out of the struggle stronger than ever," Stela Bokun, Pyramid senior analyst, said in the note. "They are in a good position to learn and adjust because they know what was bad about Symbian, what's creating gains and what's causing problems for Android, as well as what the upsides and downsides of a system such as that of Apple, where the OS only runs on hardware manufactured by the vendor."
Finally, although Android's growth may slow a bit by 2013 compared with the last couple of years, it will still challenge Windows Phone for dominance, Pyramid said, with the two platforms closely battling for the top spot of the market.
Pyramid isn't the only research firm anticipating a leading performance for Microsoft's mobile OS.
IDC released a report in late March projecting that by 2015, Windows Phone will enjoy the second largest market share behind Android, also citing the Nokia/Microsoft partnership as a key reason. IDC is forecasting that Windows Phone's share will be only 20.9 percent compared with 45.4 percent for Android. But the research firm is estimated a compound annual growth rate for Windows Phone of 67.1 percent over the next four years, by far the highest among all of the top smartphone vendors.