The smartphone market will remain a tale of two platforms

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The smartphone market has reached stability, and won't be seeing any major market swings over the next four years, predicts IDC.

In its Q3 smartphone tracking report, the research firm says that overall mobile phone sales will grow only 1.4% this quarter (compared with the previous year), their slowest growth rate in three years. However, smartphone sales are growing nearly 40% year over year. So the mobile phone market today is a story of replacement -- feature phone to smartphone -- not penetration to first-time phone buyers.

Within the smartphone market, IDC predicts only small changes between now and 2016. Android will remain on top with more than 60% global market share, while iOS will stay around 20%. IDC says that iOS uptake could be hurt by the lack of low-priced options.

report yesterday from Consumer Research Partners suggests that this price sensitivity is already happening: less than 70% of iPhone buyers are choosing the newest option, the iPhone 5. That compares with more than 90% who chose the iPhone 4S when it was new in October 2011.

IDC does predict that Microsoft's Windows Phone platform will finally make some inroads, with a a 71% compound annual growth rate over the next four years, driven by Nokia and HTC. That will put it at about 11% market share -- well above the 2% to 3% that the platform has languished at since its introduction in 2010.

It also predicts that the BlackBerry platform won't disappear, but will stick around with less than 5% market share, while Linux-based phones will drop to less than 2%. Other platforms (Symbian, mainly) will essentially disappear.

Here's the chart.

Chart: Worldwide Smartphone Market Forecast by OS, Unit Shipments, 3Q 2012Description: IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker provides smart phone and feature phone market data in 54 countries by vendor, device type, air interface, operating systems and platforms, and generation. Over 20 additional technical segmentations are provided. The data is provided four times a year and includes historical and forecast trend analysis. For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 1-650-350-6423 or detail about this tracker can be found at: Android, BlackBerry, RIM, Apple, iOS, Windows Phone, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Smartphone, Mobile Phone, 3Q, 2012, Q3, Third Quarter, Worldwide, Market share, Market Size, Forecast, IDC, TrackerAuthor: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

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