Techcrunch is reporting that Gardner and IDC predict a 20 percent market share for Windows Phone 7 by 2015. Said to be a conservative estimate, it appears to be based on several factors:
- HP dropping webOS, leaving potential developers to jump ship to another mobile platform
- Microsoft pushing new product in Europe
- Microsoft marketing to women and youth
Let’s take a look at these. HP dumped webOS because of a change in direction by their new CEO. I won’t go into why he chose to do this, but yes webOS is dead, or at least its twitching body is soon to be laid to rest, barring a last minute rescue at any rate. But how popular was webOS really? Wonderful as it may be, webOS never gained much traction in terms of actual rubber-to-road users. And like it or not, no matter how good your platform is, developers go where the users are. Where are the users? Not on webOS. So how much of a bump would Microsoft get if every single webOS developer suddenly migrated to developing for the platform? Not much. And that bump would be made smaller by the fact that developers on marginal platforms tend to cross develop to multiple platforms. In other words, webOS developers are probably already developing for other platforms including Windows Phone 7. While market share is zero sum game, developer share is another thing entirely. So I wouldn’t expect many more apps to be added to the WP7 platform by webOS developers because many of them may already be there.
What about Microsoft’s sales efforts in Europe? Currently Windows Phone 7 barely registers a blip on the radar. They have their work cut out for them, and releasing “hundreds” of salesmen into the market to try to “better demonstrate the product” might not have the anticipated effect. Certainly it can’t hurt to have more professionals out pushing your product, but in reality you are far more likely to buy into a platform because of one of two reasons: you are used to it already and are simply jumping to new hardware or someone you already know and trust shows you how the new platform is better. Which is to say, word of mouth. And right now, word of mouth is working against Microsoft, not for it.
What about targeting women and young/first-time buyers? I can’t speak to how or why WP7 might appeal to women in particular, though the claim is made. Still, saying it is particularly appealing to women speaks to a relative appeal between genders. It doesn’t mean women are necessarily desiring WP7 phones more than other platform’s devices. Just that women are more likely to want a WP7 than men. Again, assuming Achim Berg’s, head of Windows Phone marketing, assertion is true. As for first-time buyers, well, you can’t buy cool.
Am I saying iOS is unassailable? Absolutely not. Look at Android. It has its problems, certainly, but Android has grabbed its own slice of the pie by differentiating itself from iOS. App availability is there, although the app store experience is, in my opinion, of lower quality. But it is theoretically far more tweakable than any iOS device. What exactly will WP7 bring to the table that is going to truly mark itself as being different enough from iOS to warrant grabbing market share there? Because that is what they are going to have to do no matter who they want market share from. They need to be different enough and in a good way, if they want to be picked from a lineup that includes some of the most popular phones currently produced. Even carrier availability is disappearing as a viable means of differentiation as iOS devices are beginning to appear on more networks worldwide.
No, Windows Phone 7 is not going to steal much, if any, market share from iOS, certainly not based on the information available today from Mr. Berg and the analysts down the hall.