I don't know whether to cheer or cry for Microsoft
From one perspective, 2012 looks like a great year for Windows Phone, with about 17 percent year-over-year growth in the United States. Outstanding! But, uh-oh, that's from a tiny base. Get out your magnifying glass -- share will rise from 3.5 percent to 4.1 percent, according to Strategy Analytics. Ah, yeah.
The analyst firm's forecast is for actual number of smartphones sold, not shipped -- 123 million, 5 million of which will have Windows Phone. That's up from 101.8 million and 3.5 million, respectively, in 2011.
It's quite remarkable how positively Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics executive director, spins the numbers. "Microsoft is making a determined push to crack the United States because it is the most valuable and influential smartphone market in the world". That's why I cheer for Steve Ballmer and Co. The pride is back!
But Mawston adds: "However, Microsoft's US smartphone market share remains relatively niche at present and breaking the stranglehold of leaders Android and Apple will not be easy". Whaaaaaaaaaa, where's my hanky?
"To grow further, we believe future versions of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 platform will need to dramatically improve support for advanced technologies like multi-core chipsets, enhance the Marketplace app store, expand the number of phone models available from major partners like Nokia or Samsung, and consider reducing the license fees it charges per unit to smartphone makers", Mawston advises.
Suddenly there's sense to Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 strategy that effectively makes even the newest WP7.5 handsets obsolete. None can upgrade to WP8. So to get it, buy a new phone. Brilliant, Microsoft!
While Windows Phone lapdogs along, Apple's handset makes money faster than a US mint. Strategy Analytics estimates $150 billion in cumulative revenue over the first five years of sales.
"The iPhone portfolio has become a huge generator of cash and profit for Apple", Mawson says. "A quarter of a billion iPhones have been shipped cumulatively worldwide in the first five years since launch". But wait!
"However, there are emerging signs that the iPhone’s next five years could get tougher", he warns. "Some mobile operators are becoming concerned about the high level of subsidies they spend on the iPhone, while Samsung is expanding its popular Galaxy portfolio and providing Apple with more credible competition".
Last month, Sameer Singh exposed how much Apple depends on iPhone subsidies and how severely they hurt carriers' profits. If you missed this two-parter, grab a coke and popcorn before reading his riveting analysis.
As for Windows Phone market share, sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we do both. I'm rooting for you, Windows Phone. My soft spot for underdogs is huge.