Yesterday Gartner released its latest mobile smartphone sales predications, with the figures showing a dramatic turnaround in their predictions for the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 platform. The latest predictions are charted below (I find this much easier to visualise this data in a chart versus the tabular form which Gartner publish!):

We can see from the chart above that Gartner predicts that Android will increase the lead that it has so rapidly acquired, BlackBerry's RIM and Apple's iOS will see moderate growth, whilst Microsoft will rise as Nokia's Symbian declines, with the headline grabbing prediction being that Windows Phone 7 will outsell iPhone by 2015. It is also worth noting that net smartphones sales are predicted to hit 1 billion by 2015, that's twice the sales figures expected for desktop PCs.

The prediction that there will be two smartphones sold for every one PC highlights just how important smartphones are as a platform for application developers. Regardless of OS, smartphones are powerful enough to support almost any application that you might have targeted for desktop production, therefore, if a smartphone version of your application is not on your roadmap, you are potentially missing out on 66% of your customers!

So how does Gartner's most recent prediction compare to their previous one? If we chart their predictions for Symbian and Microsoft that they released in August 2010, the difference is quite clear (previous predictions shown as a dotted line):

Where previously they had predicted a strong rise in Symbian sales, and a poor uptake in Windows Phone 7, the tables are now turned.This is of course due to the recent news that Nokia are dropping their own Symbian OS in favour of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, with the first Nokia devices expected at the end of this year.

It is also interesting to look at how Gartner's predictions have changed for RIM, iOS and Android from August 2010 to April 2011:

The predictions for RIM are unchanged, whilst they have increased their forecast sales prediction of iOS a little. However, they have dramatically increased their Android predications, so whilst Windows Phone 7 developers will certainly see Gartner's latest figures as great news, it is clear that Gartner see the recent success of Android continuing and its market share increasing.

As others have reported, the smartphone market is highly volatile. The Nokia / Microsoft partnership has had a major impact on Gartner's view of the near future, I expect that other significant events will occur between now and 2015 that these will have an equal impact on Gartner's latest predictions, changing the landscape once again.

None-the-less, it is still a good day for Windows Phone 7 developers, Silverlight or XNA.

Regards, Colin E.