2012: Windows Phone 7 to shake up SA’s mobile market

October 31, 2011 • Opinion

While 2011 was the year when Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS slugged it out for smartphone marketshare, 2012 is the year that Windows Phone 7 is going to rock the boat, especially in South Africa, and primarily thanks to Nokia.

Arno du Toit, Virtual Mobile Technologies Chief Commercialisation Officer

Around the world, Nokia might already be dismissed as an “also ran” by the Android and iOS fanboys. Indeed, there is no doubt that Android and iOS have captured marketshare from Nokia Symbian.

However, analyst house Gartner, amongst others, predicts that when Nokia adopts Windows Phone 7 during the course of 2012, it will soon become the third largest operating system and overtake Apple’s marketshare by 2015. Please refer to the table below that shows growth forecasts for the smartphone market, which currently makes up around 16% of the South African mobile phone market, according to Gartner.

Worldwide Smart Phone Mobile Communications Device Open OS Sales to End Users by OS (Thousands of Units)

OS 2010 2011 2012 2015
Symbian 111,577 89,930 32,666 661
Market Share (%) 37.6 19.2 5.2 0.1
Android 67,225 179,873 310,088 539,318
Market Share (%) 22.7 38.5 49.2 48.8
Research In Motion 47,452 62,600 79,335 122,864
Market Share (%) 16.0 13.4 12.6 11.1
iOS 46,598 90,560 118,848 189,924
Market Share (%) 15.7 19.4 18.9 17.2
Microsoft 12,378 26,346 68,156 215,998
Market Share (%) 4.2 5.6 10.8 19.5
Other Operating Systems 11,417.4 18,392.3 21,383.7 36,133.9
Market Share (%) 3.8 3.9 3.4 3.3
Total Market 296,647 467,701 630,476 1,104,898

Source: Gartner (April 2011)

Now of course this is assuming no major upsets happen in the ever-volatile mobile world, but I would argue that this prediction rings true for the South African market for a number of reasons, and especially due to the installed base of Nokia handsets already in existence.

1. Nokia’s installed fanbase

According to Nielsen’s August 2011 Mobile Insights report that focussed on the South African mobile handset market, Nokia is the handset manufacturer with the most brand awareness, with 60% of the respondents picking it as top of mind. 52% of the 2,000 South Africans surveyed said they currently use a Nokia, and 56% said that a Nokia would be their next handset.

With Nokia shifting from the Symbian operating system to Windows Phone 7 – which according to Nokia and Microsoft will take place during the course of 2012 – we shouldn’t be surprised to see an influx of Windows 7 phones in South Africa as Nokia users upgrade and new Nokia users come on board.

2. Gaming

Add to this dynamic the fact that Windows Phone 7 is tightly integrated with Xbox Live and you have a very compelling reason for the gaming community to opt for a Windows device, whether it is produced by Nokia, Samsung, HTC or any other handset manufacturer. However, it is likely that specifically Nokia is going to grab much of the Windows Phone 7 marketshare, thanks to its plans to “drive and define the future of Windows Phone” – according to an open letter written by Nokia CEO, Stephen Elop, and Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer.

3. The consumerisation of IT

Another trend that has been building momentum over the course of 2011 has been the consumerisation of IT. In other words consumer trends are impacting the enterprise IT space, especially when it comes to mobile. Add to the mix Windows Phone 7’s built in support for Microsoft Office and Sharepoint, and the scene is set for the Windows Phone to become a very popular enterprise handset.

But, the sudden entrance of another significant smartphone operating system is potentially every IT manager’s worst nightmare, especially if they are still struggling to work out their mobile strategy in the current landscape. This landscape includes, don’t forget, a large number of feature phones that aren’t likely to disappear from the market in the near future either. Due to this increasing complexity, more and more companies are turning to a Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) as the foundation for their mobile strategies. A MEAP allows IT managers to remove the complexity from the mobile world and allows them to roll out services on all present and future mobile platforms quickly, easily and cost-effectively.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if 2012 is the year that Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms (MEAPs) become defacto for any enterprise mobile strategy.

Arno du Toit, Virtual Mobile Technologies Chief Commercialisation Officer

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