Windows Phone sales surge -- is it real or just a blip?

Analyst reports released in the last two days show Windows Phone sales surging between 115% and 227% compared to a year ago. Does this mean Windows Phone is finally gaining traction, or is it just a blip on the radar?

IDC reports that in the second quarter of this year, Windows Phone sales jumped by 115% compared to a year ago, to 5.4 million units, and a 3.5% market share. IDC also notes that Windows Phone "narrowed the gap between itself and BlackBerry last quarter in its bid to become the number 3 mobile OS in terms of market share." A year ago in the second quarter, Windows Phone had 2.3% market share and Blackberry 11.5% market share. Now Windows Phone has 5.4% to Blackberry's 7.4%.

Canalys reports similar numbers. It reports that Windows Phone grew by 277% in the second quarter compared to a year previous, and shipped 5.1 million units for a 3.2% market share. That's up from 1.2% market share and 1.3 million units a year previous. A year go, Canalys says, Blackberry had 11.6% market share; now it has 8.5%.

That certainly sounds like good news. And to a certain extent, it is. But keep in mind that those high growth percentages come as a result of Windows Phone having such an insignificant market share a year ago. It's easy to rack up big percent gains when you start with small numbers.

And also keep in mind that Android dwarfs Windows Phone sales, and on a per-unit basis is growing dramatically faster than Windows Phone. IDC says that Android had a 46.9% market share a year ago, shipping 50.8 million devices, and now has a 68.1% market share, shipping 104.8 million devices. That means that it shipped 54 million more devices this year than a year ago, while Windows shipped only 2.9 million more devices this year than a year ago. Canalys reports similar numbers.

So throw away the percentages --- with every passing quarter, Windows Phone is falling further behind Android where it really counts, in the number of devices shipped. The gap constantly increases dramatically.

IDC notes that:

Though it's closing in on the third spot, Windows Phone is still a distant competitor to Android and iOS. Microsoft will need to generate additional momentum from Windows Phone 8 devices, which will be introduced this fall, if it is to narrow the share gap further between itself and the three mobile OS leaders.

I don't think that's likely to happen. Expect to see big percentage gains for Windows Phone because Windows Phone still has a small market share. But also expect see the gap between it and Android widen while the Android juggernaut continues.

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