Windows worldwide market share is stuck at 15% and falling

Windows, which once had a near-monopoly on computer operating systems, has shrunk to a 15% market share for sales of new devices. So concludes Gartner's most recent report, and it doesn't appear Windows will ever get back much above 15%, if at all.

The Gartner report looks at worldwide sales of desktop and notebook PCs, ultramobiles, tablets, and mobile phones. In 2012, it says, 346,468,000 Windows devices were shipped, out of a total of 2,217,440,000 devices. That translates into a 15.6% market share. In 2013, total Windows sales will shrink by 4.3%, to 331,559,000 devices. That will account for a 14.3% market share of the 2,316,433,000 devices shipped. Gartner says that 2014 will be a better year for Windows sales, which will grow by 9.7%, largely due to an increase in sales of mobile devices rather than PCs. But total market share will still be under 15% --- 363,803,000 Windows devices out of 2,489,723,000 total translates into a 14.6% market share.

It's unlikely that Windows will continue at that 9.7% growth rate. And because of that, it's unlikely that Windows will ever get back to even a 16% market share.

Android, meanwhile, will continue its sizzling growth rate. In 2012 505,509,000 devices shipped for a 22.8% market share. In 2013 Gartner says that will grow to 879,910,000 devices and 38% market share. And in 2014, it will grown even more, to 1,115,289,000 units and a 44.8% market share.

iOS and Mac OS X, meanwhile, accounted for 212,875,000 units in 2012, for a 9.6% market share. In 2013 that will grow to 271,949,000 units and a 11.7% market share. By 2014 it will be 338,106,000 units and a 13.6% market share. At that point, it will be only 1% below Windows. So sometime in 2015 or shortly after, it could overtake Windows.

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The reason for all this is the growth of mobile, and the shrinking of desktop and notebook sales, which still primarily run Windows. Gartner says that sales of desktops and notebook will shrink from 341,273,000 in 2012 to 303,100,000 in 2013, and 281,568,000 in 2014, a decline of 17.5%, while mobile continues to grow, from 1,866,380,000 in 2012 to 2,168,259,000 in 2014, a growth of 16.2%.

All this makes clear why Microsoft's next CEO needs to fix the company's mobile problem. As long as Microsoft struggles in mobile, it will remain an also-ran in the long term, while both Apple and Google will grow.

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