Microsoft recently released the latest version of its Windows Phone smartphone platform in a new push to take back market share from rivals Apple and Google. The announcement in Tokyo was followed just hours later by a demonstration of the first handset – manufactured by Fujitsu-Toshiba – to be built around the new platform, “Mango”.
Many more devices are scheduled for release over the coming months.
One year ago Microsoft was in a similar position, hoping that the new Windows Phone 7 operating system would boost its standing against the competition. But despite generally positive reception and reviews, the platform’s release was drowned out by a wave of new Android-powered smartphones and updates for the iPhone.
In fact, following the release of the successor to the Windows Mobile platform, Microsoft actually lost market share in the smartphone industry.
In the first quarter of 2011, Microsoft had 2.7% of the market, according to business intelligence firm IDC, compared to Q1 last year when its market share was 7.1%. In the same period, shipping numbers for Windows-powered smartphones fell from 3.9 million to 2.8 million, IDC reported.
New Improved Mango
The new Mango OS has a raft of improvements, with around 500 updates to the Windows Phone 7 platform. These include Internet Explorer 9 for better navigation, enhanced viewing capabilities for lengthy email exchanges and a new feature that combines sms, instant messaging and Facebook chat interfaces.
Some of these much-discussed improvements were showcased in Fujitsu-Toshiba’s IS12T smartphone, a certified weather-resistant device that sets a new benchmark in mobile camera resolution with a 13.2-megapixel sensor. The IS12T will only be available in Japan and is expected to be released after September.
A Partnership Between Leaders
Many other smartphone manufacturers, including Acer and ZTE, are working together with Microsoft on integrating and developing the Mango platform. But what the smartphone world is really waiting for is news from the partnership between the world’s largest software company and the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, Nokia.
The Finnish giant announced it was joining forces with Microsoft earlier in the year, abandoning its Symbian operating system, which had until then been the backbone of Nokia’s smartphone strategy.
While still clinging to the title of the world’s largest mobile phone maker, Nokia’s market share is being rapidly eaten into as competition intensifies. Its hopes to remain a key player in the smartphone industry are as much as Microsoft’s tied to the success of the Mango platform.
Industry experts predict that if they play their cards right, together these behemoths could shift the momentum in a market currently under Apple and Google domination.
Key Statistics – World Smartphone Platform Market Share (source: Gartner)
- Global unit sales of smartphones are expected to hit 468 million units in 2011, up 58% over the number sold in 2010.
- Microsoft’s Windows should take over 5.5% of the market share this year, with close to 11% forecast for 2012.
- Apple’s star iPhone will stay steady, holding 19% of the market in 2012.
- Google’s Android will lead by far, with 49% of global market share by the end of 2012.