Windows Mobile is not dead and, in fact, its use on smartphones will nearly triple by 2013, according to analyst firm iSuppli Corp.
Windows Mobile now runs on 27.7 million smartphones, and is projected to be in use on some 67.9 million smartphones in 2013, iSuppli said today. The 2013 forecast means that Windows Mobile would have a 15% share of the global smartphone market by then, second to the Symbian OS, which would have a 47% market share.
In 2008, Windows Mobile commanded second position although it dropped a notch to third place in 2009, iSuppli noted.
The findings are noteworthy since Windows Mobile has increasingly come under scrutiny, with some analysts at Gartner Inc. predicting it won't last beyond next year, when Windows Mobile 7 launches.
Recently, Palm Inc. announced it would not use the Windows Mobile OS and will concentrate on its WebOS instead.
Motorola Corp.'s head of consumer devices, Sanjay Jha has also criticized Windows Mobile, preferring to focus on the Android OS that will be used on a number of upcoming devices. However, the enterprise side of Motorola recently announced the MC9500, a Windows Mobile-based rugged handheld.
And Motorola executive Jerry McNerney predicted that support for Windows Mobile would continue.
Even so, none other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last week told investors that his company had done poorly with Windows Mobile development and as a result had reorganized the team working on the product.
iSuppli analyst Tina Teng said the loss of Palm and doubts about Motorola are only some of the challenges Windows Mobile faces, including how it will compete more widely against Symbian, which powers Nokia devices, and Android, which is going to be deployed in phones from several manufacturers.
Teng said Windows Mobile can remain competitive, mainly because it supports a broad range of widely-used applications. Microsoft also offers services to help customers who want to customize smartphones and supports software integration. By contrast, integrators that want to customize Symbian and Android phones must invest in add-on software, she said.
She also noted that Windows Mobile recently gained another licensee: LG, the third largest mobile phone manufacturer, which has pledged to produce 50 Windows Mobile-based handsets in coming years.
Teng admitted that Windows Mobile does have shortcomings, especially when compared with the slicker touchscreen interfaces of Apple's iPhone and even the Android phones backed by Google Inc.
Still, she predicted Microsoft will catch up with the release of Windows Mobile 7. It is expected to have an enhanced user interface and browser as well as multi-touch controls, she noted.