ABI, IDC wrangle over future of Windows Phone

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform will continue to grow its share of the overall smartphone market during the next five years, but Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 will struggle to take market share, according to a new forecast from ABI Research. The forecast contrasts sharply with a recent report from another research firm, IDC, which predicted a far rosier future for Windows Phone. 

According to ABI, there were 302 million smartphone shipments in 2010, up 71 percent from 2009. That figure roughly matches IDC's estimate of 303.4 million smartphone shipments last year. Also like IDC, ABI predicts that Android will capture 45 percent of the market in 2016. However, the two research firms diverge sharply on their prognosis for Windows Phone, which was released last fall.

ABI predicts Windows Phone will face significant challenges, despite Nokia (NYSE:NOK) selecting it as the company's primary smartphone platform. "Windows Phone 7, on the other hand, which shipped in two million handsets in Q4 2010, will have to find incredible success through its Nokia channel to take more than 7 percent of the market by 2016," ABI analyst Kevin Burden said in a statement. IDC predicted that by 2015 Windows Phone would command 20.9 percent of the market.

The ABI report predicts Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will grow its market share from 15 percent in 2010 to 19 percent in 2016, due to new product offerings. Additionally, ABI said Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry platform will decline from 16 percent of the market in 2010 to 14 percent in 2016 as the company struggles to entice consumers. ABI's wild card is Samsung's bada platform, which it predicts will grow from 1.5 percent of the market in 2010 to potentially 10 percent of the market in 2016. 

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The global handset and smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2010