Market research firms, such as Gartner and IDC, publish estimates of global smartphone shipments on a quarterly basis. While these numbers are very helpful to determine who’s currently on top of the smartphone market, there is one other metric that is just as important.
Let’s say you’re an app developer. Of course you’re interested in short term trends, because they give you an idea which platform has a future. But if you want to know if a platform is worth developing for NOW, what’s at least as important is the installed base of that platform, i.e. the number of phones that are actually in use at a given point of time.
Former Nokia executive turned consultant Tomi Ahonen has recently published his estimates for the global smartphone market and the message is clear: if you’re planning to develop apps for Windows Phone, you might want to think again. According to Ahonen, Windows Phone has a global installed base of 14 million units. A number ridiculously small compared to Android’s 427 million and Apple’s 198 million. Even Bada, a low-end operating system pretty much left for dead by Samsung, has a larger installed base than Windows Phone does. So if Microsoft really wants to establish Windows Phone as the “third ecosystem” in the mobile game, the Redmond-based company has a rocky road ahead of it.