What it is: Analysts often make predictions based on nothing more than blind guesswork and a desire to make headlines.
Back in 2011, both Gartner and IDC predicted that Windows Phone would become the second most popular mobile operating system with at least 20 percent market share by 2015. Their reasoning was simple.
Back in 2011, Microsoft had the support of big name hardware vendors like HTC and Nokia, along with Acer, Fujitsu and ZTE. Since having multiple vendor support worked so well for Android, the theory was that Windows Phone would likewise reach a large number of users. On the other hand, iOS only worked on the iPhone made by Apple, so because iOS was only available from a single company, iOS market share would plummet while Windows Phone market share would skyrocket.
Obviously that’s not what happened. Gartner now says Windows Phone holds only 1.7 percent of the market, down from 3 percent a year ago. With Windows 10, Gartner predicts: “Despite the announcement of Windows 10, we expect Windows smartphone market share will continue to be a small portion of the overall smartphone OS market as consumers remain attracted by competing ecosystems,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. “Microsoft smartphones will mainly focus on driving value for enterprise users.”
The big question is why would enterprise users flock to Windows 10 for smartphones while everyone else is flocking to Android and iOS? Like their earlier prediction that Windows Phone would hold 20 percent of the market by 2015, Gartner provides no evidence whatsoever to support their believe that enterprise users will gravitate towards Windows 10 on smartphones.
The ultimate lesson is that analysts are basically no different than fortune tellers and palm readers, except that fortune tellers and palm readers can often be more accurate. Why Gartner and IDC thought Windows Phone would magically dominate the mobile operating system market remains a mystery. Windows Phone 7 wasn’t a bad operating system, but then Microsoft essentially rebooted it to create Windows Phone 8, which wasn’t compatible with Windows Phone 7 devices.
Then Microsoft rebooted Windows Phone 8 with Windows 10. Each time Microsoft offers a new version of a mobile operating system, they essentially redo it a few years later, abandoning their current customers and giving new customers no reason to buy Windows on their smartphones.
Windows Phone and Windows 10 aren’t bad operating systems; it’s just that they offer nothing better than Android and iOS, and have a huge disadvantage in the lack of app support. Look at any app from a major company and it always supports Android and iOS, leaving Windows Phone and Windows 10 completely unsupported. Without software support, no operating system can gain traction in the market.
Notice that no one at Gartner or IDC bring up their earlier prediction that Windows Phone would hold at least 20 percent of the market by 2015? With little more than thinking if multiple vendors helped Android it would help Windows Phone too as their sole line of reasoning, it’s no surprise that Gartner and IDC along with other analysts are totally useless when it comes to predicting the future.
For some odd reason, analysts remains fixated on market share when market share means nothing if companies can’t make a profit. Samsung is the only major Android manufacturer to make a profit while almost all other Android manufacturers lose money selling Android smartphones. Why stay in business losing money selling products that cost you money to get rid of them?
Logic escapes analysts when it comes to running a business. The real test of any product is whether people keep buying them. Each time Apple introduces a new iPhone, people line up to buy them. Each time other companies come out with a new smartphone model, the official launch comes and goes like any other day with no sign of excitement.
One day people won’t be lining up to buy the latest iPhones any more, and that’s the day when something better will have come along. Until that day arrives though, it looks like the iPhone will continue dominating the smartphone market in terms of profitability, which is the only real measurement that analysts should worry about.