Some estimates show Windows Phone gradually gaining market share, but don't tell that to Acer, one of whose top executives says that the company won't be releasing a Windows Phone any time soon because "no one knows about it."
In an interview with TechRadar, Acer's VP of Smartphones for EMEA, Allen Burnes, had complimentary things to say about Windows Phone, and added that the company is considering releasing a Windows Phone device. But so far it has decided not to, because not enough people know about it and so the market is simply too small. He said:
"We are looking at Windows Phone 8, we think it's a great OS. The integration with Xbox is nice, the enterprise suite is nice, but I think no one knows about it.
"You'll find everyone in our smartphone team would really like to deploy Windows OS, but in relation to where we are as a company we have to make our decisions in relation to what we think will sell out."We've made the decision not to launch a Windows Phone 8 device this year. Next year, depending on how we see the growth go this year, we may well do."
It's true that Windows Phone doesn't have nearly the market share of iOS or Android. But it's been gaining ground steadily. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's most recent numbers show it's the fastest-growing smartphone operating system, with a 5.6% market share in April, up from 3.8% a year previous.
And that may be just the beginning. A new Canalys report says that by 2017, Windows Phone will nearly overtake the iPhone, with a 12.7% market share to the iPhone's 14.1%. Canalys says that Windows Phone will gain because of Nokia's Lumia line, and more importantly because Chinese manufacturers will take it up in large numbers. Jessica Kwee, Canalys Analyst, said:
"Longer-term it is the Chinese vendors that are best placed to challenge Samsung's market dominance. Microsoft already has a relationship with Huawei and ZTE in the phone space, and Lenovo is a major partner in the PC space. These partners will be needed to help deliver the scale that Microsoft needs."
Also adding to Windows Phone's growth is that the devices are popular with first-time smartphone buyers, who are often budget-minded. This demographic is going to flood the market, good news for Windows Phone. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato explained:
"Windows strength appears to be the ability to attract first time smartphone buyers, upgrading from a featurephone. Of those who changed their phone over the last year to a Windows smartphone, 52% had previously owned a featurephone...with over half of the US market still owning a featurephone, it's likely that many will upgrade over the coming year, which will ultimately contribute to more growth for the Windows brand."
So for the moment, Acer is right: Windows Phone still only has a small market share. But in the next year or so, expect that to change and Chinese manufacturers push it, and as new smartphone buyers give the operating system a boost. By that point, my guess is that Acer may join in as well.