Gartner Predicts WP7 Will be No. 2 in 2015

By the end of 2011, Android will be the dominant mobile device operating system in use, and it is expected to widen that lead by 2015, according to a new report from researcher Gartner.

However, at the same time, the report appears to confirm another major analyst firm's recent prediction that Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Phone OS is likely to go from fifth in a five-horse race in 2011 to a solid second place position in 2015.

The report's top-line conclusions compare favorably with those of analyst firm IDC's latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker released last week.

For instance, the new Gartner report pegs Android in the lead with about 180 million phones in use by the end of 2011. That would give Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android a 38.5 percent market share by the end of this year, and that will grow to some 539 million units for a market share of 49 percent in 2015, the report says.

Meanwhile, Gartner has Microsoft's market share in 2011 at 5.6 percent and only 26.3 million units in use, but still foresees a large jump for Windows Phone by 2015 to some 217 million units and a total share of 19.5 percent.

In comparison, IDC said the current leader is Android with 39.5 percent share, and that in 2015 it would still lead with a projected share of 45.4 percent. At the same time, though, IDC gave Windows Phone a 5.5 percent share in 2011 and a surge to 20.9 percent in 2015.

According to both firms' reports, most of Microsoft's gains will come at the expense of Nokia's Symbian smartphone OS, which is being phased out in order to ship smartphones only running Windows Phone. The two announced their partnership in mid-February, a move that at least initially was widely viewed as a desperation move on both companies' parts.

How do overall sales predictions match up? IDC predicts sales of 450 million smartphones this year, while Gartner says 468 million.

Additionally, Gartner sees Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS with 19.4 percent share this year, shrinking slightly to 17.2 percent in 2015. But IDC has iOS at 15.7 percent this year and shrinking to 15.3 percent in 2015.

In the meantime, Research in Motion's (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry is also expected to decline slightly from 13.4 percent to 11.1 percent by Gartner's reckoning. On the other hand, IDC sees BlackBerry sliding from 14.9 percent in 2011 to 13.7 percent share in 2015.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.


Android, Microsoft, Windows Phone 7, Gartner