The global smartphone market will double in size by 2016 reaching shipments of 653 million devices, according to predictions in the latest forecast by telecoms analyst Ovum. Google’s Android operating system will drive the growth and will emerge as the dominant platform. Ovum predicts Android will easily outperform Apple by establishing a 20.5% market share lead.
Ovum’s calculates that smartphones will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.5% between 2010 and 2016 and will account for approximately 40% of the mobile phone market. 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.
Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach said: ‘The smartphone market will see significant growth over the next five years, once again outperforming the wider mobile phone market. We will see dramatic shifts in dominance for smartphone software platforms, with Android storming into the lead with 38% market share, compared to Apple iOS’ 17.5% by 2016.'
Leach said that 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. Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson and LG are all key Android supporters in Western Europe, while other manufacturers such as Huawei, ZTE and Acer are also keen on the OS.
But Ovum is also forecasting that Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS will grow coming in just behind Apple iOS with 17.2% market share by 2016, followed by BlackBerry OS with 16.5%.
Leach continued: ‘We expect at least 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.’
According to Leach, the partnership between Nokia and Microsoft has redrawn the smartphone market and will result in a significant reduction in shipments of Symbian-based handsets as Nokia transitions to Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform. However, Nokia still expects to ship 150 million Symbian-based handsets, so there will be shipments beyond 2012 and in some regions into 2016.
Leach added: ‘For Microsoft the deal provides a committed handset partner that has the potential to make Windows Phone a mainstream smartphone platform. The risk to Microsoft is that other handset makers may choose not to compete with Nokia and may turn their backs on Windows Phone.’