Microsoft’s Windows Phone project seems to be stalling.
IDC reported on smartphone results for 2015 last week. It was a down year for the entire category: The firm said that growth was 9.8 percent. This was the “first full year of single digit growth” worldwide. About 1.43 billion units will ship.
The sullen nature of the report is enforced by the fact that estimates were downgraded in Asia/Pacific – with the exception of Japan – Latin America and Western Europe. That certainly wasn’t good news for Android (1 percent market share growth, to 82 percent) and Apple’s iOS (flat at 14 percent to 15 percent). The report was downright awful news for Microsoft. Windows Phone experienced -10.2 year-over-year growth. IDC didn’t sugar coat it:
Despite all the effort Microsoft has put into the launch of Windows 10, IDC does not expect Microsoft's share of the smartphone OS market to grow much over the coming years. In 2015, IDC expects the average selling price (ASP) of Windows Phones to be $148, which is $71 lower than Android's ASP of $219.
The goal of BlackBerry, Microsoft and several smaller entities is to be the third player behind Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. The word from IDC suggests that the category won’t be big; it will be divided between several vendors or, simply, that it may be a healthy niche – but not one filled by Windows Phone.
It’s clear that things are getting tough when strategy debates that formerly were held in boardrooms between executives on the same team instead are played out in real time within earshot of reporters. Bloomberg’s Dina Bass reported that former CEO – and current majority stockholder – Steve Ballmer didn’t like what he heard at last week’s annual shareholder’s meeting.
Somebody on the call asked about what is perceived as a lack of important apps for Windows Phone. CEO Satya Nadella responded that the company plans to allow developers to write apps that run across PCs, phones and tablets. Ballmer’s response, according to Bass, was unadorned:
’That won’t work,’ Ballmer commented as Nadella spoke. Instead, the company needs to enable Windows Phones ‘to run Android apps,’ he said.
Still, the Windows Phone marches forward. The Verge reports that the company is making it available today on the Lumia 550. The significance, according to reporter Tom Warren, is that the device is priced at just $139, which is the least expensive phone that supports the operating system. Today’s announcement is for “select markets,” but Warren says that Microsoft has not yet identified which countries will be included. The low-budget version won’t support some features, the story says.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.