Of all the companies competing for a piece of the mobile-device market over the next year, Microsoft and Research In Motion face some of the most critical tests. Both companies’ respective mobile platforms—Windows Phone and BlackBerry—suffer from low adoption rates among consumers and businesses. And while their respective executives might claim that plans are in place and success is a matter of proper execution, research firm IDC paints the situation in much starker terms: Microsoft and RIM need to succeed in 2013 or else it’s doomsday for them in the mobile space.
“Both vendors need to capture much greater interest from mobile app developers to expand the number of apps that run on devices powered by their respective operating systems,” read IDC’s Nov. 29 research note on the cloud and mobility market in 2013. “Failure to do so by the end of 2013 will likely be the beginning of their demise in this market.”
According to November data from research firm Gartner, BlackBerry OS stands in distant third place among mobile operating system vendors, with 5.3 percent of the market. Microsoft’s various smartphone platforms (in addition to Windows Phone, a dwindling percentage of customers continue to use the company’s antiquated Windows Mobile platform) earned 2.4 percent. By comparison, Google Android owns 72.4 percent of the market, in Gartner’s estimation, with Apple’s iOS in second with 13.9 percent.
RIM plans on launching BlackBerry 10, the latest version of its mobile operating system, in late January. Microsoft is pushing Windows Phone 8. While both platforms offer a variety of next-generation features, their creators need third-party developers to build tons of apps if they want a shot at challenging either Android or iOS, both of which boast app stores with hundreds of thousands of offerings.
In the meantime, IDC predicted, even successful companies in the space will begin exploring alternates to the operating systems that spurred their initial achievements: “Hardware vendors like Samsung will explore their OS options, including Linux/Tizen, as a hedge against the growing market dominance of Android.”
IDC also offered a host of other predictions for the cloud and mobile space in 2013.