Do you remember the last time you saw someone with a Windows Phone handset? For me it was yesterday—I was outside chatting with my neighbor, who was taking pictures with her smartphone. I noticed the Windows logo on the bottom and thought to myself, "Heh, you don't see those much anymore." That is not just my observation, either. According to IDC and its latest quarterly tracking data, the Windows Phone platform accounts for just 0.1 percent of all smartphones in existence.
Windows Phone was never really a competitive solution to begin with, at least from a market share perspective. However, this is a new low, and it comes as Microsoft continues to show disinterest in the mobile phone market. Meanwhile, Android is still the top dog with an even 85 percent share of the global smartphone market in the first quarter of 2017, followed by Apple and iOS at 14.7 percent. All other platforms (Tizen, Symbian, and so forth) combined for a measly 0.1 percent, just like Windows Phone.
"Windows Phone shipments continue to fall as the lack of new hardware partners, developer support, and overall enthusiasm for the platform show no immediate signs of recovery. IDC expects 2017 volumes to decline 80.9 percent to just 1.1 million units. Microsoft has yet to fully commit to any 'Surface'-style attack for smartphones or to push new vendors to embrace the platform, leaving little hope of mounting a full scaled comeback in the years to come," IDC said.
Microsoft will not admit this publicly, but Windows Phone is simply not a priority. The company's efforts in the hardware space are much more focused on 2-in-1 devices and, more recently, its first ever all-in-one, the Surface AIO. It is also preoccupied with its Xbox One console. But if you care to ask Microsoft about Windows Phone, the company will tell you that it is still committed to supporting the platform for the foreseeable future.
"We’re going to continue to support Windows phone. Windows is a platform that drives the experience on a whole range of devices. We live in a highly diverse world," Microsoft's Joe Belfiore remarked at Builtd 2017 two months ago.
Speaking separately in an interview on Marketplace.org's "Make Me Smart" podcast, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that more Windows Phones are in Microsoft's future, but that whatever it comes up with will be wholly unique to what is available today.
"What we've done with Surface is a good example. No-one before us had thought of 2-in-1s, and we created that category, and made it a successful category, to the point where there are more 2-in-1s coming, and that's what we want to do. So, in a sense, when you say 'Will we make more phones?', I'm sure we will make more phones, but they will not look like phones that are there today," Nadella said.
As a whole, smartphone shipments grew 3.4 percent year-over-year to 344.3 million units in the first quarter of 2017. Even though it appears to be a slowing market, IDC says consumers continue to show demand for mobile phones, with OEMs hyping up flagship devices more than ever.
The biggest winner in all of this is Samsung—it produces nearly a quarter (23.3 percent) of the world's smartphones, followed by Apple, which serves 14.7 percent of the market with its iPhone models. Chinese manufacturer Huawei is on the rise wit ha 10 percent share, followed by Oppo (7.5 percent), Vivo (5.5 percent), and all other players (39 percent).