Currently, the smartphone market is pretty much a two horse race dominated by Android and Apple’s iOS, but the market isn’t going to consolidate just yet, according to a survey of developers by the U.K. research firm Ovum. The firm goes on to say that the Nokia-Microsoft deal will re-draw the smartphone landscape and create a strong equal to Android’s dominance.
Its second annual survey of smartphone developers found there is growing interest in Microsoft’s mobile operating system. “The growing momentum behind Windows Phone indicates that Microsoft has managed to convince developers that its platform is worthy of investment; its challenge now is to persuade consumers,” Adam Leach, devices & platforms practice leader at Ovum said in a statement.
Ovum also found the trend in development is away from traditional cross-platform models (that usually aren’t) like Java and Flash and toward Web-based standards like HTML5.
By 2016, the research firm predicts the global smartphone market will double in size to 653 million units, with Asia leading the way in units at over 200 million sold in 2016, followed by Western Europe and North America at 175 million and 165 million shipments, respectively.
Developers Are Key
Ovum sees Android holding onto the lead, followed by Windows Phone, for different reasons. He sees Android platform being driven by the sheer number of hardware vendors supporting it at both the high and low ends of the market, but in the case of Windows Phone, it’s due to Microsoft’s platform support.
Leach believes the partnership between Nokia and Microsoft will significantly boost Windows Phone’s potential, as Nokia has a significant worldwide reach. But it comes down to developers to make a platform work.
“A smartphone platform’s success is dictated not only by the pull of consumers and the push of handset vendors and mobile operators but also by a healthy economy of applications delivered by third-party developers,” Leach said. Therefore, it is important for all players in the smartphone ecosystem to understand the choices developers are making today and the downstream impact of those choices.”
Chris Johnson, developer of the My Trips travel app for Windows Phone, said Nokia’s presence is making a difference. “Nokia is certainly stirring a lot of interest in the platform. The excitement over the Nokia push in Europe is helping as well. I’m seeing a lot of growth in Europe and other new markets that are adding the Windows Phone,” he said.
The Windows Phone marketplace has taken off at a remarkable pace, given it had to start over from scratch when Microsoft dropped Windows Mobile and launched Windows Phone 7 in 2010. Last July, there were 25,000 apps for the phone. As of now, there are 65,000. And it seems there is a growing user base for those apps.
Johnson figured his app would eventually plateau, since it’s a niche app. It’s for travel planning and works with TripIt.com. But that’s not happening. “My app sales have stayed relatively high. There is no sign of it flattening out. If anything, it’s accelerating,” he said.