Smartphone Operating Systems: The Rise Of Android, The Fall Of Windows

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | ZDNet | February 7, 2013

While Android and Apple's iOS continue to rise, the arrival of Windows Phone 8 actually saw Microsoft's share of the smartphone market fall. The race for the number three smartphone operating system is wide open.

A quick glance at comScore's latest numbers on smartphone operating systems reveals no real surprises. Android is still number one, with 53.4 percent of the market, a slight gain over the previous quarter; Apple's iOS is still number two, with 36.3 percent of the market and a significant uptick of 2 percent; and Windows Phone is fourth, behind BlackBerry, with 2.9 percent, a drop of 0.7 percent.

Wait. What? Wasn't the arrival of Windows Phone 8 supposed to finally give Microsoft mobile operating systems a long-needed kick in the pants?

Well, yes actually it was. Windows Phone 8, along with Windows 8 and the Surface devices, was supposed to reinvent Microsoft. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed that in the first month of sales Windows Phone 8 sales had seen a 300 percent jump over Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 sales. And, the top-of-the-line Windows Phone 8, the Nokia Lumia 920, got generally favorable reviews. So, what went wrong?

Behind the hype, I think Google hit the nail on the head. The Android giant said it had no plans to build apps for Windows Phone 8 because they're not enough users. Well, based on comScore's numbers, it looks like Google Apps product management director Clay Bavor was right and Ballmer was... misinformed. There really isn't much user interest out there in Windows Phone 8 devices...