Taken in isolation, Windows Phone is a slowly improving platform. Gaining new functionality, apps and traction on a regular basis, it is a solid yet uninspiring performer.
However, when measured against the likes of Android and iOS, things begin to change slightly. Worldwide in 2014, Windows Phone, as a platform, shipped 34.9 million handsets, a solid improvement of 4% on the year before. Apple, in contrast, shipped 192.7 million iPhones again, an improvement from the year before. Yet despite these solid gains by both platforms, Apple actually lost market share.
‘How is this possible?’ I hear you ask, the answer is not Samsung. Indeed, the South Korean tech giant has taken something of a pummeling in the last year, achieving only flat growth. The real culprit is Xiaomi, or rather the group that it represents. Chinese phone manufacturers, which sell well-designed and specced devices with tiny profit margins have taken the world by storm, particularly in Asia. This group was mostly responsible for the growth of the Android platform as a whole, which shipped over 1 billion devices in total.
If there is one positive in all of this for Windows Phone, it can be summed up in one word: Blackberry. Formerly known as Research in Motion, the beleaguered Canadian manufacturer has struggled to maintain relevance in an increasingly hostile market, and it continues to struggle, having shipped only 5.8 million devices. Windows Phone is now firmly the third most popular mobile platform, edging out the likes of Firefox, Sailfish, Ubuntu, Cyanogen and Tizen.
The lack of growth on Windows Phone’s part can be attributed to several factors, not least the dearth of new Windows Phone releases since Redmond’s acquisition of Nokia earlier in 2014. Very few flagships have been released, resulting in a loss of attention for the brand, and cheaper Lumia variants have only just been holding the fort.
What are your smartphone market predictions for 2015? Let us know in the comments below.