Despite intensifying competition and the loss of some high-profile licensees, the usage of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system will nearly triple from 2009 to 2013, allowing it to reclaim the No. 2 position in the global market, according to iSuppli.
The analysis comes after Computerworld, citing Twitter tweets from Microsoft’s Venture Capital Summit, last week reported that CEO Steve Ballmer said Microsoft “screwed up” with Windows Mobile and wished version 7 had already launched.
Microsoft is expected to release a series of Windows Mobile 6.5 phones this month and to introduce Windows Mobile 7 next year.
Meanwhile, iSuppli predicts that in 2013, 67.9 million smartphones will use the Windows Mobile operating system, up from 27.7 million in 2009, giving Windows Mobile a 15.3 percent share of the global market in 2013, second only to the Symbian, which will control 47.6 percent.
Before that happens, Windows Mobile is expected to fall to the No. 3 position in the smartphone OS market in 2009, retaking the No. 2 place it held in 2008 by 2012.
To be sure, Windows Mobile is facing a lot of challenges, including rising competition from free alternatives like Symbian and Android, the loss of some key licensees and shortcomings in the user interface, says iSuppli senior analyst Tina Teng in a press release. “However, Windows Mobile holds some major cards that will allow it to remain a competitive player in the market,” Teng said.
The “ace card” in WinMo’s hand is ownership of a complete infrastructure essential for the success of a smartphone operating system, the firm says. Microsoft offers a complete set of services to assist clients in their customization and software integration efforts. OEMs wanting to customize the Symbian and Android operating systems by modifying the user interface or widgets must invest in add-on software.
iSuppli concludes that Microsoft’s recent loss of licensees Palm and Motorola may not be as significant as they appear. Palm never actually represented a large amount of business for the company, and Motorola’s handset market share has been in decline in recent years.
Windows Mobile recently gained a key licensee in LG, which pledged to produce 50 Windows Mobile handset models.
Teng points out that the Windows Mobile user interface looks poor compared to competitors such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone. The rigid folder system, for one, can be challenging for users. And Microsoft didn’t update the user interface of Windows Mobile quickly enough.
Still, Windows Mobile boasts the largest number of OEM licensees among all smartphone operating systems, at 14. Symbian is in second place, at 10, according to iSuppli.