According to a new IDC report, the worldwide mobile phone market is forecast to grow 7.3% year over year in 2013, marking a sharp rebound from the nearly flat (1.2%) growth experienced in 2012. Strong demand for smartphones across all geographies will drive much of this growth as worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to surpass 1 billion units for the first time in a single year. Worldwide smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 40.0% year over year to more than 1.0 billion units this year with strong gains in emerging markets and the sub-$200 smartphone segment. IDC's report presents a forecast of Smartphone OS growth, and they don't see Apple's iOS gaining much ground going forward.
IDC's report states that iOS will remain the clear number two operating system as the expected launch of a lower-cost iPhone will open up a wider addressable market. Apple will also grow faster in subsequent forecast years due to enterprise and emerging market share gains that will be driven in part by a likely deal with China Mobile, which will give it greater reach into one of the world's fastest-growing smartphone markets. However, iOS share gains will be tempered by the relatively high price points of the iPhone, which makes for a lower share ceiling.
Looking at the IDC chart I think that the Windows Phone OS will in fact make gains in the market over the next five years and the percentage seems to be fair. BlackBerry may not be around and may very well end up in Microsoft's hands which would further justify the Windows Phone OS positioning.
Apple's numbers, however, may be a bit low if you consider that they may continue to expand their lineup of smartphones over the next five years. Will Apple's "iOS for the Car" service count in this race considering that it's part of the hands free phone service? And considering that Apple's iPod family over the years ended up covering the high-end iPod touch right through to the low-end iPod shuffle, I'm a little more optimistic about Apple having a mass market lower end iPhone over the next four to five years.
At present, Android is at every price point and Apple's iOS for iPhone isn't. So Apple has a lot more headroom for growth with a steady plan to cover more price points over time. What's your take on the new IDC forecast? Do you agree or disagree? Send in your comments.