Revisiting Gartner and IDC 2011 Predictions that Windows Phone Would Pass iOS in 2015

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The Cloudy Apple Crystal BallLet us harken back to 2011. The global economy was climbing its way out of the Great Recession of 2008. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2 was all the rage. Apple released iPad 2 and iPhone 4s, and of course, that was the year Steve Jobs died after many years of battling cancer.

It was also when Gartner and IDC both predicted that Microsoft's Windows Phone would surpass Apple's iPhone to become the world's second biggest mobile platform. They both penciled in Research In Motion's (now BlackBerry) BlackBerry for 4th place.

Let's take a look:

Gartner's 2015 Predictions from 2011

Gartner's 2011 predictions through 2015, from TMO's original coverage

IDC's 2015 Predictions from 2011

IDC's 2011 predictions through 2015, from TMO's original coverage

Nailed it! Or not. Here's actual market share, at least according to Gartner on November 18th, 2015:

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 3Q15 (Thousands of Units)

Operating System



3Q15 Market Share (%)



3Q14 Market Share (%)































Solid predictions, Gartner and IDC. Note that none of them are on point. Android is the Windows of the mobile world, with 83.3 percent of the market. iOS has retreated to some 12.5 of the market, while Windows and BlackBerry are less than relevant.

Mind you, market share itself has become less and less relevant over the years. Apple owns the high end of the hardware market and makes most of the hardware profits. Apple's App Store tends to do disproportionately well when it comes to people actually paying for apps, but Android's Google Play does just fine, thank you.

Still, when Gartner and IDC made these predictions it was obvious to just about everyone their analysts were astoundingly wrong. From IDC's predictions in March of 2011:

"Up until the launch of Windows Phone 7 last year, Microsoft has steadily lost market share while other operating systems have brought forth new and appealing experiences," Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team, said in a statement. "The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android."

Yeah, you folks definitely nailed it. Microsoft couldn't do anything with Windows Phone even after buying Nokia, and the firm wrote off some $7.8 billion related to the Nokia deal in July of 2015. At the same time, BlackBerry is looking for a second life as a services company (something at which BlackBerry excels).

Hopefully everyone involved in these predictions got big fat bonuses.

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I find the 3Q14 Windows Phone market share % interesting: If iOS has 12.5% market share, and Windows Phone 3.0% market share, shouldn’t that mean for every four iPhones there should be about one Windows Phone somewhere?

I find this interesting simply because I’ve never seen a Windows Phone in the wild. And by never I mean: Never. Not a single one. Android? Of course, and usually a huge Samsung model. iPhone? Of course: Based on casual observation, I’d reasonably assume a 50/50 split between Android/Samsung and iPhone. But Windows Phone? Again, never seen one in the wild.

Anyone else have similar observations?

Finally, a few years ago, when in NYC on business (in sight of the 5th Ave Apple Store, no less), there was only a single Android (Samsung, of course) phone and a lone Windows laptop at my meetings, lost in a sea of iPhones and MacBooks Airs and iPads. Makes me wonder where the bulk of Android phones are hiding.


I gotta say I’ve seen exactly the same thing. My work is full of iPhones and Android Phones. No WinPhones. Period, nothing. The only place I’ve seen a WinPhone is in a store.

Bryan Chaffin

There could be something off about these current numbers, to be sure, but note that they’re global numbers, not U.S. numbers. In the U.S., Apple has a far greater share of the market than in most other markets. At the same time, Nokia’s stronghold was always outside the U.S. back when it was a thing. I suspect there are more Nokia devices with Windows Phone elsewhere.


We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android./


And so unkind of you, Bryan, to notice. And to point it out. Publicly.

Undoubtedly, at least some of these perspicacious pundits got both bonuses and promotions since these predictions. No doubt, if pressed, these would cite the under-performance of MS and Blackberry, rather than the superior performance of Apple, as the reasons for their misses. Bonuses and promotions this rightly deserved.




Sorry. Didn’t close quote.


These stats are misleading in various ways. Aside from the diminishing relevance of marketshare given Apple’s domination of profits, one must also consider that these stats are based on sales and that Android is used in a lot of low end, dumb devices that get very little usage. When you look at mobile operating systems’ share of web traffic, you see a starkly different picture, with Android and iOS split down the middle or perhaps around 50/40. And when you look at actual eCommerce transactions, iOS comfortably leads the way.

Jon Fingas

Those bogus predictions were really the product of veteran analysts still locked into the “Microsoft wins by default” mindset that had served them well in the pre-mobile era.  Why, Microsoft eventually dominates every market it enters—surely it will rule the smartphone world, it just needed a little boost!

I don’t want to be too hard on them (the hardest thing to predict is a major disruption), but this was 2011, 4 years after the iPhone and 3 years after Android… they should have looked at where the market was already going, not made a guess based on what they were comfortable with.

Ayushi Yakshi

Everything is possible. Windows Phones are also good so it can be possible.

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