Study: Android, then iOS to rule phones in 2016

New study from research firm ABI Research contends Android will easily dominate smartphone landscape in five years, followed by iOS. Findings stand in stark contrast to earlier IDC figures.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Android sold well last year and will easily dominate the smartphone market in five years, ABI Research says.

The research firm said today that a total of 302 million smartphones were shipped around the world in 2010, representing a 71 percent gain year over year. Android was running on about 23 percent of the smartphones that shipped in 2010, putting it behind only Symbian, which tallied 36 percent market share last year. RIM captured 16 percent market share in 2010, while Apple's iOS held 15 percent of the market. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 share was just 0.6 percent.

By 2016, Android's market share will only continue to grow, ABI Research estimates. The company said Android will be running on 45 percent of all smartphones expected to hit store shelves in 2016. The research firm said Apple's market share will increase to 19 percent in five years, followed by RIM's 14 percent share. Surprisingly, Samsung's Bada operating system could have as much as 10 percent market share in 2016.

However, most interesting might be ABI Research's contention that in 2016, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform will have just 7 percent market share and Windows Mobile will earn just 0.5 percent of the market.

Earlier this week, research firm IDC said it believes that in 2015 Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile will own 20.9 percent of the mobile market, putting it just behind Android. The gains, the company said, will be because of Microsoft's recently announced partnership with Nokia that will see Windows Phone 7 become the "principal" operating system on that company's devices.

Related links
IDC: Android, Windows Phone to rule mobile
Nokia, Microsoft becoming Windows Phone bedfellows

"Up until the launch of Windows Phone 7 last year, Microsoft has steadily lost market share while other operating systems have brought forth new and appealing experiences," Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst on IDC's Mobile Devices Technology and Trends team, said this week in a statement. "The new alliance brings together Nokia's hardware capabilities and Windows Phone's differentiated platform...By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be the No. 2 operating system worldwide behind Android."

However, speaking in a phone conversation with CNET today, ABI Research Senior Analyst Michael Morgan made it clear that he doesn't see it that way.

"In 2011, Symbian is going to start to deflate rapidly," Morgan said. "I believe that a lot of Nokia users will convert to a new OS platform and stay there--they won't go back."

Morgan believes that result is indicative of the changes going on in today's mobile market.

"The software experience is now more important than the smartphone brand," he said. "Hardware has become homogenized."

Regardless of which company wins, the smartphone market is poised for huge growth in the next five years. ABI Research said a total of 870 million smartphones will ship worldwide in 2016 alone.