Gartner says Windows Phone to hit 10% market share in 2018. In what universe is that?

Gartner sees sunny days ahead for Windows Phone, which it says will reach 10% worldwide market share by 2018. Is that an on-target prediction, or is Gartner far off the mark?

The prediction comes as part of the latest Gartner report on worldwide PC, tablets, and smartphone sales. At first glance the report appears to have good news for the PC market, which has been shrinking for several years. Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner had this to say about sales of traditional PCs:

"2014 will be marked by a relative revival of the global PC market...This year, we anticipate nearly 60 million professional PC replacements in mature markets."

Sounds like good news, doesn't it? A revival, even if it's a "relative" one certainly sounds like a good thing. But when you actually look at Gartner's numbers, no such revival can be found. In fact, Gartner projects that sales of traditional PCs (desktops and notebooks) will decline from 296 million in 2013 to 276 million in 2014, and then to under 262 million in 2015. How can a decline of 6.7% in 2014, and 5.3% in 2015 possibly be called a revival?

In Gartner's world, it's a "revival" because the decline isn't as steep as in previous years. But to anyone else using the English language, shrinking 12% over two years is anything but a revival.

The report says that Android will continue to dominate all operating system sales if you include PCs, smartphones, and tablets. And then, towards the end of a press release about its findings, Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner, had this to say about Windows Phone:

"Windows phones will exhibit strong growth from a low base in 2014, and are projected to reach a 10 percent market share by 2018 — up from 4 percent in 2014."

It provided no figures to back that up, however. And Windows Phone growing from 4% worldwide market share in 2014 to 10% in 2018 seems extremely optimistic. Other reports do not see as nearly a sunny future for it. IDC, for example, projects Windows Phone to have a 3.5% worldwide market share in 2014, growing only to a 6.4% market share in 2018.

Even that might be optimistic. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's latest figures show Windows Phone with minimal market share in the world's two largest smartphone markets: 3.8% in the U.S. and 0.6% in China. In both cases, market share has been dropping. Even in Europe, which had been a Windows Phone stronghold, growth has stalled. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech says that market share is at 8.1% right now, up from 7.1% a year ago. But as recently as November 2013, Windows Phone market share in those countries was 10%.

So will Windows Phone reach 10% market share by 2018? It's possible, but not particularly likely. Gartner is likely wrong on this one.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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