If slow and steady wins the race, then Microsoft might be onto something with its Windows Phone platform. It's been slowly and steadily gaining market share and IDC figures that by 2018, it will hold 5.6 percent of the global smartphone market.
That doesn't sound like much, and it isn't, though it could certainly make things interesting between Windows Phone and iOS, depending on where Microsoft's added share comes from. While iOS is in second place, it's a distance second at just 13.8 percent, compared to Android's massive 82.3 percent share of the market. To the point, it's a much closer race between iOS and Windows Phone than it is between Android and iOS.
Time will tell how it all shakes out. For now, Android and iOS account for more than 95 percent of all smartphone shipments, which are expected to reach 1.3 billion units in 2014, according to IDC. That's a 26.3 percent jump over 2013. In 2018, IDC predicts smartphone shipments will reach 1.9 billion units.
An interesting side note to all this data is that IDC thinks alternative platforms like Tizen and Firefox OS will have a tough time penetrating the market. That's mostly because Android volumes are so dominant, which makes it impossible for these other OSes to try and compete on price alone.
IDC says, "Any underdog OS must bring a radically different appeal to gain any significant traction."