Android Will Peak This Year, iOS Will Fall to Windows Phone by 2016

Analyst predictions are always entertaining, because they make statements about what will happen in the future, which are both impossible to prove without the passage of time (or, we suppose, a time machine) and fun to discuss. IDC’s latest mobile phone market predictions are no exception, as the analyst group drops some future-news that’s sure to raise plenty of dander.

First, although IDC predicts that the overall mobile phone market growth will abate quite a bit this year as feature phones continue to vanish and the global economy lags, smartphones will eventually take up the slack; and the three big cheeses that stand alone (well, together) will be Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

While Android will maintain its current dominance, IDC believes that the OS will peak in terms of market share this year. However, Android will continue to find itself on devices from more and more companies.

Apple’s iOS will see its market share dip a bit despite a 10.9% growth rate in adoption over the next few years, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for two things: one, much of iOS market is simply users replacing their iOS devices--a dangerous game if there’s not a compelling reason to upgrade--and two, Windows Phone will overtake Apple’s mobile OS for second place in the market.

Yep, IDC predicts that the fledgling Windows Phone platform, which currently holds just 5.2% of the smartphone operating system market, will explode by 2016, when it will grab 19.2% of the market, edging out iOS by a hair. Much of that growth will be driven by Nokia, which ditched Symbian OS for Windows Phone, so the a great deal of Windows Phone’s success hinges on Nokia’s success in the device market. (IDC also predicts that Symbian will effectively disappear by 2014.)

Apparently, BlackBerry OS will hang in there, without much change in terms of market share, but IDC notes that RIM will need to sell to emerging markets “where users are looking for affordable messaging devices”. Ouch. Once the titan of the enterprise, BlackBerrys are now seen as primarily inexpensive texting machines for developing markets.